At the end of the XVIIIth century, English vessels incursions became more frequent near our coast and the engagements were often bloody. On the 13th Ventôse of year III (March 1795), a maritime hospital opened in Port-Liberté (the new name of Port-Louis since the Revolution) in the former convent of the Recollets then closed. After the disastrous naval battle of vice-admiral Villaret-Joyeuse, between Belle-Ile and Groix, the new hospital was quickly active. From 1804, its importance grew up to eight health-officers, three pharmacists, ten hospital "civil sisters", and a chaplain. On an average 180 to 200 patients were treated per year. From this flourishing time dates back the monumental portal of the entrance. This hospital was closed in 1806.
The patients from the Navy were then treated in the civil hospice in Lorient. However the buildings in Port-Louis have been often used temporarily as an extra hospital particularly in 1808 and 1812. Food, medicines, nursing-staff were taken in charge by the civil hospice, according to a convention. In 1832 and 1848, they were used as temporary barracks. But the building was in a very bad state. The vaults of the former church Saint-François had collapsed and the walls of the building were swollen.
The Navy hesitated : either a total demolition for keeping the piece of land or a retrocession to the national administration. It seems that no decision had been taken, as in 1859, on the occasion of an epidemic, the maritime prefect of Lorient and the admiral visited the buildings of the former convent and decided to set up a temporary ambulance there.
Restructuring works were undertaken and in 1861 the establishment became again a hospital including ten rooms of hospitalisation and a capacity of 270 beds. The Sisters of Wisdom were asked for nursing and they staid there until the staff in military hospitals became civil, that is to say in 1906. The chaplains in the navy being suppressed too, the religious service fell to the parochial clergy.The end of the XIXth century is marked by many works done : the fitting out of a bath-room for the venereal patients, the enlargement of the chapel, the building of two padded cells for madmen, the modernization of water adduction and evacuation, the establishment of cisterns, etc…
During the 1914-1918 war, the navy hospital put up 14 173 patients or injured persons, with a total of 291 320 days of hospitalisation. On August 6th 1936, the hospital, that still sheltered 250 beds, was definitely closed at the profit of the brand new Navy hospital in Lorient. However, shortly after, it became a shelter-centre for several waves of refugees from the Civil War in Spain
The lazaret of the harbour.
The survey of Port-Louis hospitals won't be complete if a little unusual establishment wasn't mentioned.After Napoleon 1st 's expeditions to the East and the cholera and yellow fever epidemics, it appeared necessary to fit out lazarets to avoid contamination of civil people or men ashore, by isolating the crews and the suspected troops. Islets were frequently chosen for these settlings (in Brest, Lorient, Toulon).Saint Michel Island sheltered a Benedictine convent from the XIth up to the XVIIIth century.Bought to the East India Company in 1748, it became a military property when that one was suppressed in 1770. Situated between Port-Louis and Lorient, it was the object of an ambitious project in 1817-1818. The establishment had to be both a hospital for sick sailors and an absolute isolation place for spry people suspected to be carriers of contagion. "To oppose the fiddle or the careless desire of meeting a parent, a friend, it is necessary to build insurmountable walls, hiding however to the poor wretches kept in the lazaret the aspect of a jail which may affect their moral state. Under this aspect, the arrangement of Saint-Michel Island, establishing the lazaret in terraces, will hide from the inside the safety fences."In 1821, the project was reduced to 500 places. Maybe to give the sailors the illusion of not being ashore the islet was given the outline of a vessel crowned by a semaphore and they were lying in hammocks. The lazaret was closed in 1850.
|last modification : 05 27 2005|