POOLE Hospital has celebrated 50 years since the first brick was laid on its A Block.

Princess Alexandra laid the foundation stone for one of the hospital’s four main ward blocks back in 1961.

On opening, the block housed six 30-bed wards, including geriatric, surgical, orthopaedic and medical/coronary care.

That day the Echo reported that: “Hand in hand, their faces flushed with excitement, long lines of children poured into Longfleet Road in Poole, eager to see Princess Alexandra of Kent, who visited the town to open the new maternity wing and lay the foundation stone of the new Poole General Hospital.

“Around and behind them, crowds packed the pavements, mother with prams, housewives with shopping baskets on their arms, and people from offices.

“Even a cart-load of gypsies rattled into town, laughing gaily, with bright ribbons in their hair, to join the sightseers.

The princess flew in to Hurn before being taken by royal car to Poole.

As she passed the Alderney unit of the hospital, 2,500 eager children pressed forward on the pavement for a quick glimpse of the princess as she passed.

And another 2,500 children fronted packed crowds of sightseers on Longfleet Road.

At the hospital, she was received by the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, Lord Digby where she was presented to local dignitaries.

In the maternity wing there were 23 babies – one mother with twins – and Her Royal Highness was presented with a silver christening mug.

At the stone-laying ceremony on the site of the new hospital were a number of blind people accompanied by guide dogs, in which the Princess had a special interest.

It would be another eight years before the new Poole General Hospital itself was officially opened… by the Queen.

It had cost £4.5 million plus another half million on “loose equipment”.

In 2011, the building for which Princess Alexandra laid the foundation stone has a very different look and houses a wide range of modern medical services.

The ground level now houses the emergency assessment unit, while the children’s unit sits on the first floor.

The hospital’s flagship critical care unit lies on the second floor, with a rapid evaluation unit for the elderly and other general wards above that.