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Please note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Riverside Museum is closed. Further details on when it is likely to reopen will be posted here. In the meantime, here is a flavour of what the Museum contains:

The Museum, based at Wheeler (formerly County Hall and the Riverside Campus) on Castle Drive, contains a permanent collection of curiosities from the world of medicine, nursing, midwifery and social work which features an original letter from Florence Nightingale, written from the Crimea in 1856. The First World War: Returning Home exhibition commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the conflict and provides an insight into what a soldier invalided back from the Front would have found on his return to Cheshire. Using local examples wherever possible, the exhibition covers aspects such as medical advances, the psychological effects of war, volunteering and volunteer nurses, a doctor’s country practice, home life, food and recipes, rural life and social welfare. This exhibition has been refurbished with the generous help of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Heritage and the volunteers are in the process of expanding the exhibition to cover more about the inter-war years, particularly the 1918-19 flu pandemic as a comparison with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our events programme gives details on the latest associated talks and the opening times for the Museum once it is open again. Admission to the Museum is free and all are welcome. We also open by arrangement for groups of six people or more and please email the Historical Society if you would like to arrange a pre-booked visit. Visitors should go to the main Wheeler reception opposite the River Dee where they will be directed. There is no car parking available and visitors are advised to use city centre car parks or public transport.

Background to the Museum collection by Colin Jones

Chester has provided mental health care services since 1829 in the then named County Lunatic Asylum. The hospital has over the years had a number of names including Deva Hospital and West Cheshire Hospital. Moston Hospital, a former military hospital, was offered for civilian use in 1960 and some services from Deva Hospital moved there. The first collection of items was saved from The County Lunatic Asylum and was housed in Moston Hospital Nurse Training School in the late 1960s and early 1970s. With the impending closure of Moston Hospital, the objects were moved to West Cheshire Hospital and featured in the Chester Chronicle’s review of the 150th Anniversary of West Cheshire Hospital. The collection remained in the hospital for a number of years and was moved from room to room as the hospital developed and changed. It was available for staff to view and became of particular interest to nursing students, who had planned visits to the museum. Inevitably the collection shrank in size as some items were lost over the years. In 2005, with the closure of West Cheshire Hospital and the opening of Bowmere Hospital, the collection was stored in the basement of the 1829 building, the current home of Western Cheshire Primary Care Trust, as there was no suitable room to display the items. The sixtieth anniversary of the National Health Service was celebrated in 2008 and the Faculty of Health and Social Care at the University of Chester appealed for healthcare items to form a display. The ‘West Cheshire Collection’ came out of storage and a number of further items were acquired by the University of Chester. In 2009 the ‘Historical Society’ was founded and the development of a museum became a core feature of the society. The collection was then expanded to include items from Social Work and Social Care. With the move of the Faculty from the Main University Campus to Wheeler in 2011 came an offer of a room in the basement, and this has allowed further development of the museum. The two exhibition rooms are now open on a regular basis and we welcome visitors to share and enjoy this collection with the enthusiastic volunteers. 


If you have any queries about the Museum and its related programme of talks, or would be interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact Sophie Brereton, Administrative Assistant.


Tel: 01244 512095

University of Chester
Castle Drive

Contact Information

Faculty of Health and Social Care Historical Society