In the spring of 1890 Frank James cruised along the West African coast, making a series of inland expeditions. On 21st April while hunting elephant with three friends near San Benito he shot and injured an elephant, which subsequently killed Frank James. Brought back to England by his crew, Frank James was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery.
1893 The brothers of Frank James, a member of the RYS, together with other benefactors from the RYS built a home for retired seamen. There was accommodation for 12 single men in the centre block, each with his own cabin, a communal dining room, recreation room and washing facilities. The two wings were for 8 married couples, each with their own sitting room with cooking stove and a bedroom. The accommodation was not fully utilised so, on the outbreak of the Boer War, the building was used as a convalescent home for wounded soldiers.
1903 Princess Beatrice assisted other local benefactors, including Samuel White the ship-builder, to set up a Trust to convert and run the building as the Frank James Cottage Hospital. The conditions were that the name of Frank James should always be in the title of the building and that it should be used for charitable purposes as a hospital.
On the 18th June 1903 the Frank James Hospital was officially opened and was maintained by voluntary contributions until 1948.
The hospital was originally quite small, but in 1938 an extension, the King George V Memorial Wing, was added which provided a new men's ward on the ground floor with nurses accommodation, a committee room etc, above. Over the years, there have been various alterations internally to increase the number of beds and provide outpatient clinics. Little attempt was made to copy any of the artistic brick work of the main building - it was purely a utilitarian building with little architectural value. Internally it had parquet flooring like the rest of the wards.
On 9th August 1979 Frank James Hospital was Grade 2 Listed.
In 1990 - major renovation started to convert the large wards into smaller rooms. The hospital was converted to accommodate patients requiring long term care or rehabilitation. Those suffering from severe strokes or brain tumours, needed careful tending in as normal an environment as possible. T S Elliott Ward, which had been carrying out this work at Whitecroft hospital, moved into Frank James Hospital.
On 4th April 1992 Frank James Hospital re-opened.
On 31st July 2002 Frank James closed its doors for the last time.
2002 The IoW NHS Trust decided to sell the Frank James Hospital. East Cowes Enterprise (ECE) had been operating in the town for several years using government money through the Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) to organise community activities such as the Victorian Festival and Christmas in the Square. ECE became The North Medina Community Development Trust with assets of about £250,000. They attempted to put together a package to bid for the building. A consultant was employed to assist putting the package together. The plan was to apply for planning permission to demolish the southern extension and for two semi-detached houses to be built in Hospital Road. One of these would be given to the NHS for staffing accommodation as part of the sale agreement and the other would be sold for income. The Frank James building would be converted with the first floor converted to apartments to be managed by a housing association. The ground floor would be used for community activities. The IoW NHS Trust was happy to go along with this proposal. There were four housing associations available to deal with. Two of these were chosen as preferred partners and discussions took place. Unfortunately the housing associations pulled out of the deal and without that element in the package it was not viable so a bid was not submitted.
2003 The NHS sold the building to the highest bidder. The developer who purchased the building put in for planning permission for a change of use and conversion to eleven units of accommodation, together with the erection of a terrace of town houses along Hospital Road. Planning permission was granted without any conditions to ensure that the hospital building would be protected and refurbished while being adapted to its new role.
In 2004 to maximise his profit the developer first demolished the King George V Memorial Wing which was to make way for a terrace of houses on Hospital Road.
2005 He sold the hospital building that would be expensive to convert to another development organisation, Navarm. They started to divide up the accommodation into eleven separate units, removing some walls and building block partitions and removing many original features.
2006 The IOW Council informed the mortgage companies that had lent money to the consortium that the sale was not technically completed. The mortgage companies then withheld any further funding. It took eighteen months for the legal sale agreement to be completed with responsibility for the road being shared. By this time one of the mortgage companies, an Irish bank, had gone bust, the housing market had declined so that the expected sale price for the eleven apartments had fallen considerably. The consortium then found it most difficult to raise funds to complete the conversion and work stopped leaving the building not weatherproof and not fully secure.
In April 2007 Council contractors spent 3 weeks securing the Frank James Hospital, which has long been the target for vandals and thieves.
In March 2012 after many years of neglect and vandalism the ‘guerrilla gardeners’ The Friends of Frank James took upon themselves the task of cleaning up the grounds which had been reclaimed by nature. They entered into discussion with the consortium who gave permission for them to continue this work. Our aim is to bring attention to the dilapidated condition of the Grade 2 Listed former Frank James Hospital in East Cowes, keeping Frank James in the spotlight, is to ensure that this beautiful building is repaired and saved for future generations.