Hospital Celebrates 150 Years
Published: 16 July 2022
Banbury’s Horton General Hospital celebrated its 150th anniversary this week – and Banbury Town Council illuminated the town hall red, yellow and blue to mark the event.
The hospital opened as the Horton Infirmary on 17 July 1872. It had two wards, one for men and one for women, with a total of twelve beds.
It was founded as a result of a gift from heiress Mary Ann Horton of Middleton Cheney. Her father, William Horton of Chacombe, earned a fortune by inventing a machine that produced elasticated thread for making socks and stockings.
Miss Horton bought an eight-acre site for £3,000 and donated a further £7,000 to build the hospital. She died on 19 July 1869, aged 80, just after work on the building had started.
The hospital was designed by architect Charles Driver and built by Franklin and Sons of Deddington.
A children's ward was added in 1897 thanks to the Holbech family of Farnborough Hall.
The Elms, a large house not far from the hospital, was obtained in 1944 and became the Horton’s first maternity unit. The house was turned into the hospital’s psychiatric section in 1961 when a new maternity department was opened in Hightown Road.
In 2005, there were plans to close the Horton
The Save the Horton action group led by town councillor the late George Parish, launched a campaign to keep the hospital open.
In 2008 it was announced that the Horton would not be closed.
Leader of the town council Kieron Mallon said: “Many people have reason to be grateful to the Horton Hospital. Its area includes Brackley and Chipping Norton and it is irreplaceable.
“The town council supported the campaign to save the Horton when its future was threatened – and the town hall was lit up to show we still support it.”
Cllr Mallon added: “The Horton has suffered cutbacks in recent years but it is still there providing an essential service – and we will battle to prevent further reductions in services.
“At this time, though, we should remember Mary Horton and her generosity 150 years ago.”
• Picture shows Cllr Mallon with town council Labour group leader Steve Kilsby in 2016 outside the town hall with a ‘Hands of our Horton’ banner attached to the balcony.