When the Bath War hospital first opened in May 1916 it had 500 beds, but due to the ever increasing number of casualties extra beds were put into the existing wards, and by 1917 large marquees were erected in the grounds to accommodate another 600 beds.
To help relieve the pressure auxiliary hospitals were opened in the surrounding area to take convalescent patients. One such hospital was the Red Cross Hospital at Avoncliff that opened in July 1917. Formerly the Bradford Poor Law Union Workhouse, the building was transformed in just two weeks after the last inmates were moved to other accommodation.
The east and west wings were converted into wards to accommodate 80 beds, and the centre of the building was used for staff rooms, reading and smoking rooms, and domestic offices. Each ward was equipped by different sections of the local community, including the surrounding villages of Bradford-on-Avon, Limpley Stoke, Monkton Farleigh, Winsley and Holt, local churches and political clubs. The hospital also had a large kitchen garden, which must have been extremely useful given the food shortages at the time.
The first sick and wounded soldiers arrived at the hospital on the 23rd July.
Twenty eight convalescents were transferred from the Bath War Hospital by river on the Red Cross barge ‘Bittern’.