The Horton General Hospital had only two wards when it opened in 1872 - one for men and one for women - and a total of 12 beds.

The hospital was built with money left by Mary Ann Horton, whose father William Horton had amassed a fortune from his invention of a machine to make elastic yarn for stockings.

Miss Horton purchased an eight acre site for £3,000 and added £7,000 to build the hospital.

Work had started when she died on 19 July 1869, aged 80. A codicil of Miss Horton's will, dated 11 March 1869, ensured that work continued with the building of the hospital.

The first resident house surgeon was appointed in 1926. Before this local doctors carried out all the treatments and operated a rota for emergencies. As with the cottage hospitals, the Matron was responsible for nursing, medical and domestic supervision and much of the administration.

A children's ward was opened in 1897, and as other services grew over the years it became obvious that the hospital needed more space. In the second half of the 1930s plans were drawn up, and an appeal was launched to build extensive new buildings.

The Second World War and subsequent preparations for the NHS meant that the plans were never fulfilled, but new building did take place during and after the war. This continued in the 1950s and 1960s.

With the advent of the NHS in 1948 the Horton General Hospital became the main hospital of a group of hospitals in North Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire, administered by the Banbury and District Hospital Management Committee.

For more on Oxfordshire Health History, visit Oxfordshire Health Archives.