In 1897 £ 700 was raised by public subscription to build a Cottage Hospital on a site made available by Lord Walsingham on the Thetford Road. It was officially opened in July 1899 and named "The Victoria Cottage Hospital" to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. An operating theatre was added in 1904 and in 1907 a children’s ward was built al a cost of £ 200 and the building programme was completed in 1933 when a new wing was added. During the fifty or so years of its existence it was extensively used for minor ailments, accident and maternity cases and at the annual meeting in March 1947 it was reported that the number of patients for 1946 was 1,032.
Following the formation of the National Health Service it was closed on February 9th 1950, but the feeling in the town was that it should have stayed open, as not only would it have been an asset to local residents, but would have helped to relieve the waiting list at the Norwich Hospitals. Thus in Ju ly 1951 members of the East Anglian Regional Hospital Board and the Senior Administrative Medical Officer met local representatives to discuss the hospital's future and the outcome of this meeting was that it should remain closed.
Watton Cottage Hospital in the late 1920's.
In November the same year the Parish Council asked Mr. P. Baker, the M.P. for his help to secure its re-opening, but he was unable to persuade the Hospital Board to reconsider their decision. It was later sold and converted into flats and bungalows were erected in its pleasant grounds and this development is now known as Victoria Court. Much hard work was put into various efforts to raise the necessary money to keep the hospital running. Whist Drives, Dances, in fact an endless list of events were organised, with perhaps the two best remembered being the annual Watton Hospital Cup in which many local football clubs competed over the years and the annual Hospital Carnival Weeks that started in 1927.
My first recollection of the Hospital Cup matches was in the 1919-20 season when Thetford Town, then one of the best teams in Norfolk, Brandon, Diss, Swaffham and Wymondham were among the many competitors. These matches were played on the grounds of the teams drawn first out of the hat and my father took me with him in Mr. R. G. Holmes's car, who at that time was the competition secretary, to see Watton lose at Thetford. A year or two later Hingham upset the form book by beating Thetford 2-1 in the final, which was always played at Watton