AN HISTORIC stone which tells a story of Basingstoke’s past has been saved for posterity by local heritage enthusiasts and the local museum service.
The foundation stone of Basingstoke’s Isolation Hospital dates from 1899 and was dumped in a builder’s yard on the old Park Prewett hospital site for some years.
The stone became the property of Rooksdown Parish Council which unsuccessfully tried to find it a home.
The council eventually put it on the Basingstoke Freecycle site and a sharp-eyed resident noticed it there and contacted Basingstoke Heritage Society.
Debbie Reavell, from the society, said: “We found that the stone was sitting on a pallet outside the new Rooksdown Community Centre. It had no particular connection with that area and needed a home.”
Following a campaign, the museum service has now offered to save the stone and install it at Milestones Museum.
Mrs Reavell explained its history: “Historically, towns had a pest house where people with infectious disease could be isolated and the two in the town were in the way of the railway – one in Chapel Hill and the other close by near the Cricketers Inn, in Victory Square.
“In the 1860s, a new one was planned and the foundation stone was laid in 1899 on the Kingsclere Road where the Park Prewett Railway line crossed the road. It was called Bridge House.
“Patients with scarlet fever and diphtheria were isolated there, many of them children or young adults. Vaccination and antibiotics removed the need for such places. Bridge House continued in use as a nurses’ home and then as the finance offices for the hospital.”