This particular building was erected in 1901, although the original West of England Eye Infirmary was first built in 1808, being the only second eye hospital in Britain, and the first one in the South West. The original building was in Holloway Street, and was then moved to this site in Magdalen Street in 1813. After having been enlarged and extended, it was finally demolished to make way for this new building.
The eye infirmary was closed in 1992 and the clinic was transferred to the Royal & Devon Hospital in Barrack Road, Heavitree.
At one stage it became part of Exeter University for a while. It was eventually sold on to become the Hotel Barcelona; the building then refurbished to become a 42 room hotel with the addition of a modern architecture bar constructed in glass and steel, and subsequently opening in 2001. Apparently, many of it's original features had been retained within the building.
However, it closed it's doors in December 2008 for further refurbishment. This was meant to be for a period of 12 months in order to carry out extensive refurbishment and extension work, following a successful planning application. These photos were taken in November 2009, shortly before it was due to be re-opened. Fortunately, it looks as though the exterior of the building, at least, has been retained in its original form.
How I came across the building was one of those odd coincidences that just can't be made up. I had an appointment to attend the actual eye infirmary clinic, which is now situated in the hospital. Having time to spare until my bus journey home, I decided to go and look for the Jewish Cemetery, which I once came across many years ago but couldn't find again. Having researched it's location to be in Magdalen Road, I walked down there, found it and took some photos. I saw this building, wondered what it was and had a wander along the road. Accosting a friendly local lady, I asked her if she knew what this was. Imagine my surprise when she told me that it used to be the eye infirmary!
Lovely obelisk features on top of the gateposts (pic below).
The final photo shows the top section of the Jewish Cemetery with the Eye Infirmary in the background.
These and a few more photos can also be seen in the Photo Gallery.