We have a large range of medical, surgical, dental, pharmaceutical and nursing equipment and an extensive collection of memorabilia, photographs and other archival material.
Our displays include a dental surgery of the 1930s, a ward of the 1950s, an iron lung, audio recordings of patients and staff, a working demonstration of a fibre-optic endoscope, and live leeches.
The following are examples of equipment and illustrations that are on display:
Iron lung machines were developed in the 1930s to help victims of poliomyelitis who were suffering from respiratory failure. A negative pressure was created inside the tank by means of a large bellows, the patient's chest would expand and air would be drawn in through their nose and mouth. This model dates from the 1960s.
A collection of glass eyes which belong to the last lady glass eye blower in the UK.
The Royal Berkshire Hospital in 1839. One reason for the building of the hospital was the large number of serious injuries occurring during the construction of the Great Western Railway. The first patient treated at the hospital was George Earley, a railway worker aged 15. He had sustained a severe compound fracture of the upper arm which required amputation at the shoulder.
''A little sun and 'air from Felixstowe'. This an example from our collection of medical postcards. We have a glass feeding bottle of this type on display.
Tiles depicting 'Jack and the Beanstalk'. Copies of tile depictions of nursery rhymes and children’s stories can be seen on the walls of the museum. The originals are in King Edward Ward which was built in 1911 as the children’s ward of the RBH.
Royal Berkshire Hospital operating theatre 1928. This was the main hospital theatre from 1882 to 1928. The 'new' twin general theatres were built in 1928 and this then became the hospital's ENT theatre.
Victoria Ward at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in the 1930s. Note the 'hospital corners' on the beds, the highly polished surfaces and the presence of a piano.
All our guides are retired hospital staff. They will be happy to answer your questions and will be pleased to demonstrate various pieces of equipment. If you have any items that you would like identified please bring them along. We will do our best to help although we cannot undertake valuations.
Books on local medical history are sold in aid of the Heritage Centre:
'Care and Compassion. Old Prints and Photographs of Hospitals and Nurses in Berkshire and South Oxfordshire 1839-1930'
Margaret Railton & Marshall Barr £3.00 + £2.23 p&p
'The Royal Berkshire Hospital 1839-1989’ - Margaret Railton & Marshall Barr. £10.00 + £3.85 p&p
'Early Medical Services. Berkshire and South Oxfordshire from 1740’ - Margaret Railton £10.00 + £2.78 p&p
‘Nursing at the Fairmile Mental Hospital, Cholsey 1935-1939’ - Mary Fairbairn Macintyre £5.00 + £1.89 p&p
‘The First 150 years of Anaesthesia at the Royal Berkshire Hospital’ - Marshall Barr & Tim Smith £5.00 +£1.89 p&p
'Leonard and John Joyce: Surgeons of Reading and Newbury' - Marshall Barr and Lionel Williams £1.00 + 65p p&p
'Reading Hospital Ward names: past and present' - Marshall Barr and Lionel Williams £1.00 + 65p p&p
‘A Surgeon Abroad 1845-1857: the Case Notes of Henry March Webb’ – Carol Barton £5.00 + £1.89 p&p
‘Royal Berkshire Hospital Wall Tiles’ – Lionel Williams £3.00 + 65p p&p
‘A Matter of Minds – my life as a mental nurse 1934-1980’ - Mary Fairbairn Macintyre £10.00 + £2.78
‘The Royal Berkshire Medical Museum illustrated guide’ - Tim Smith and Lionel Williams £3.00 + 65p p&p
NHS Foundation Trust