Ransom Wood is located in the heart of Sherwood Forest. It is a site rich in history. Legend has it that Will Scarlet (one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men) is buried in a local church.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the site was developed as a privately and NUM funded hospital, renowned for the fresh air (a common method for curing illness was to have patients sleep on the open verandas of the wards).
Doctors, nurses and sisters accommodation was provided on site and it was in every way a living, working community.
The woodland was mostly replaced with Victorian style planted parkland, including decorative gardens with ponds for patients to relax around. There were approximately 20 buildings on site, all of a significant size with solid foundations. The whole park was heated from a central coal boiler fed by an underground network of ducts of which at least half a mile still exists and are large enough to be walked through.
With the arrival of World War 1, the nearby Clipstone camp used the huge area of neighbouring forestry to the east for military training and a massive network of trenches were dug over thousands of acres of woodland. The forestry has now taken much of these works back into nature.
Strawberry Knoll was known for the two heavy machine guns mounted on its summit known particularly well by the soldiers who had to crawl up that hill under live ammunition fire as a final part of their training. A local retired post-master tells of how his father used to make deliveries to our site in around 1913 and of how he recalled that you couldn’t see the trees for the troops that streamed through this site at the time and how he remembered two tanks parked up in the car park.
Almost the whole British army was de-mobbed at Clipstone and every one of those passed this site to get there.
The site continued as a hospital through the century, serving the local community in many different ways and there are still people alive today who had operations there. The NHS eventually came onto site and the central administration building, Ransom Hall, become the area PCT. Eventually however, new treatment methods and centralisation meant that the site was no longer viable as a hospital and in 1990, the site was sold to Mansfield Sand Company, with the intention of quarrying the high quality sand beneath. Many of the buildings on site were dangerous and had to be cleared or demolished for public safety.
It looked as though Ransom Wood’s story was about to come to an end. However, at the last minute Ransomwood Estates (the business name for the company who own Ransom Wood) was formed. Ransomwood Estates took on the site in 1997, leading to the site becoming what it is today.
Today, we are well on our way to not only re-building this working community, but taking it into the 21st century and beyond with an environmental and quality remit that is second to none.
The site on which Ransom Wood is based was originally built as a TB hospital in 1905; it was designed with fresh air and well-being in mind — to the point of making residents sleep on open verandas, even in winter, To give an insight into the history of this unique place this article explores the experiences of Raymond Victor Noel who was a patient at Ransom Wood in the early 1960s. “In June 1962, the month that I celebrated my 39th birthday and at the time I was working as a knitter for a local hosiery manufacturer. We worked the two-shift system (6am to 3pm; 3pm to midnight). On the morning shift I travelled by bus and for the afternoon shift I mostly cycled — a distance of 4½ miles each way. During the week that my problems started I went to work about half an hour earlier so that I could go with my colleagues to the local chest X-ray unit. It was looked upon more as a pleasant half hour than anything really serious. After all, we were all pretty regular attendees at work and various spare time activities such as gardening and home decorating didn’t give you much chance to become a hypochondriac. I was naturally disturbed to get a letter a week later asking me to go back [to the chest X-ray unit] as they hadn’t got a satisfactory image. I imagined that perhaps I had moved at the vital moment or that a slight technical hitch had occurred. Back I went for more X-rays, one of my front and one of my back so that they were sure to get a good set of images. A few days passed and then another letter asking me to return to see a doctor who was a very pleasant gentleman who seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of questions; mostly about whether I had had certain illnesses: pneumonia, pleurisy, and others, and if I had noticed certain symptoms. I told him of an accident I had when I was in the Army; 18 years earlier I had broken three ribs. The doctor confirmed this and said that the cracks still show, pointing them out on the X-ray image. The interview ended and he made me an appointment for me to go to The Forest Dene, which was the Nottingham Chest Clinic and dealt mostly with TB.” “Having been referred to a hospital that dealt with TB I now knew that something was wrong. I didn’t like it but I accepted it as philosophically as I could. As soon as I had arrived at Forest Dene I had another X-ray of my torso, more weighing and answering more questions; then I was called in to see the specialist. A short, slim man, with two twinkling eyes greeted me. He quickly put me at ease and said that I might have TB on one lung and that there was nothing for me to worry about — a handful of tablets would soon clear it up. There would be no need for time off work and no need to worry. Having a had a pay rise I was pleased that I wouldn’t lose too much either way. After a skin test and further blood tests I left the Dene...read more