For decades Booth Hall was at the heart of Manchester's NHS, a children's hospital that cared for generations of sick children.

Being in hospital can be tough for anyone, particularly little ones. But the kindness and dedication of staff mean former patients have fond memories of Booth Hall.

It opened in 1908 after a site was purchased by the Prestwich Poor Law Union.

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The original Booth Hall had been built in Blackley during the 17th century by one Humphrey Booth, a noted Salford philanthropist whose name lives on in buildings across the city.

In 1907, the building at Charlestown Road was demolished to make way for the new hospital - intended to offer free care to those who could not afford it in the years before the NHS was founded.

It opened with 400 beds, responding to the needs of a large population working in mills and factories, at a cost of £100,000 - akin to £12m today.

These were places where injury was frequent - and often severe - and the Union had established the hospital to help care for the growing workforce.

According to the Manchester Courier at the time, the average workhouse population had doubled in 12 years, with an average of 700 people crowded into hot, stuffy, and dangerous sweatshops.

A nurse and child at Booth Hall, December 1969

In March 1915, several months into World War I, the hospital was commandeered by the War Office and used to care for wounded soldiers returning from the western front.

An MEN article from the time stated that the occupants of the hospital would be moved back to the workhouse infirmaries as quickly as possible so government could care for 500 injured soldiers there.

By Christmas the workers at Booth Hall had sent letters to the MEN calling for donations so that they could give the soldiers a "small Christmas present", and asked for people hand over food parcels so a festive dinner could be provided.

It wasn't until 1926 that Booth Hall became a children's hospital.

Within three years of this change, it had become an intrinsic part of the UK's paediatric care system, becoming the third largest kids hospital in Britain with 750 beds.

Booth Hall continued to expand through periods of major social reform in Britain as the Liberal governments of the early 20th century began to enhance rights, living conditions, and care for the working classes.

Children of Booth Hall Hospital meet characters from Alice in Wonderland: Donna George, 5, seemed more interested in Mad Hatters' bird whilst Heath List, 2, was a bit wary of the character played by David Rustidge. December 1969

In 1929, the Local Government Act laid the foundation stone for the coming of the NHS in the 1940s.

The act abolished the former Poor Law Unions, making local authorities responsible for infirmaries and fever hospitals, instead of the former charity groups.

This was a huge change in British social history and would see Booth Hall run by councils in Manchester for the next two decades.

In 1939, at the start of the Second World War, Booth Hall was emptied, with the infirmary earmarked for the care of expected air-raid casualties.

It was never fully utilised as much of the German bombing was concentrated in London, although Stretford, Trafford, and central Manchester were blitzed in late 1940 and early 1941.

Children's Ward at Booth Hall Children's Hospital, Manchester

In 1948, the new Labour health minister Aneurin Bevan established the NHS, establishing a free national service for all to use.

Booth Hall joined the NHS that same year, when it was combined with Monsall Hospital and the Duchess of York Babies Hospital to form the Manchester Babies and Children Hospital Management Committee.

The committee's initial concern was to stop the admission of healthy children to the hospital as Booth Hall had become a dumping ground for abandoned infants awaiting adoption and older children who had been evacuated from London during the war who had no one and nowhere to return to.

Once the post-war issues were resolved, Booth Hall fast became recognised as a leading centre for child medical care.

It had a specialist burn unit with hundreds of children coming to the hospital following severe house fires or accidents.

Sister Mary Simpson and room 14 at the special burns unit, November 1969

Newspaper archives reveal children from across the North West were admitted to Booth Hall - with patients coming from as far afield as Burnley, Liverpool, and Chester.

In December 1950, Booth Hall was chosen to become the North West centre for reconstructive plastic surgery, specialising in burns treatment for children using pioneering techniques.

The next thirty years could be described as Booth Hall's heyday.

While it was a centre for excellence, with the biggest burns unit for children in Britain, it was the friendliness and aptitude of the staff that many patients remember.

Children who spent time on the many Booth Hall wards recall its serenity and quiet, with the back of the city hospital overlooking cow fields and woods.

Manchester United footballer Bobby Charlton signs an autograph for eight-year-old Billy Vickers during the team's visit to Booth Hall Hospital at Blackley, circa 1963
Manchester United footballer Bobby Charlton signs an autograph for 8-year-old Billy Vickers during the team's visit to Booth Hall Hospital with the FA Cup trophy, November 16, 1963

Ward 15 was particularly popular because it had an indoor football pitch with nets painted on the walls, as well as an outdoor playground which had a big tractor tyre to play on.

In 1963, Bobby Charlton, and the rest of Manchester United FA Cup winning team visited sick children at the hospital, bringing with them the coveted trophy.

In 1973 the hospital nurses made headlines when their dedication and bravery was highlighted by several newspapers.

A bomb threat was made to the hospital causing the wards to be cleared within hours.

However, seven children were too ill to leave and four nurses bravely stayed at the hospital to look after them despite the threat.

A ward at Booth Hall Children's Hospital, July 17, 1993

Thankfully the bomb threat turned out to be hoax from a disgruntled ex-employee although it had to be taken seriously due to the activity of the IRA at the time.

The hospital was often beneficiary of donations, fundraising walks, and toy collections from local businesses, as Manchester continued to support Booth Hall in any way they could.

One notable fundraiser was Banjo the clown, real name Bob Litherland, who walked from Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool to Booth Hall in 1987, raising funds for life saving equipment at both hospitals.

Residents protest the proposed closure of Booth Hall Children's Hospital, 1993
Protest over threat to close Booth Hall Children's Hospital, Manchester, July 1, 1993

By the 1990s, with the hospital now open for more than 80 years, Booth Hall was considered antiquated and outdated.

John Major's Conservative government first raised the idea of closing Booth Hall in 1994 but strong protests, with residents even staging demonstrations outside Parliament, put a pause on the decision until 1997 when the idea was touted once again.

Eventually, in 2005, it was confirmed that Booth Hall would close in 2009, to be replaced by Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

Booth Hall Children's Hospital officially closed on June 12, 2009.

Frank Keelan told us: "This brings back a million memories, when I was between the ages of six and 10 I spent many times going up Charlestown Road to be admitted into Booth Hall.

"As a young kid it used to put the fear of God into me, I would nearly always be in there for a week or so.

"But apart from all the fear the nurses were absolutely fabulous towards me."

"My son was in there, more than once," said Alyson Banks. "Mr Leggett saved his life. The staff were fantastic!"

Sonia Warren actually worked at the hospital. She said: "I did most of my nurse training there 25 years ago and then went on to work on Ward 10 and then A&E.

"Very fond memories of the place and the staff."

Sue Barber added: "My daughter received treatment there on the burns unit, the nurses, and one in particular, Dr Shah, saved my daughter's life.

"I'm forever grateful for their love and care they showed my daughter and me, my daughter is now 29 and has two children herself and it's all due to their care."