Far from being a hospital, and with no connection with the nobility, Malaga’s Hospital Noble is at present a municipal office building overcrowded with administrative staff.
The 19th century neo-Gothic building in Plaza General Torrijos is currently home to the municipal Environment and Business Promotion Departments, as well as being the central offices for the city’s water company, Emasa.
Due to the overcrowding problem a municipal architect was sent in last week to see whether a redistribution of the offices could make better use of the space available. He concluded that little could be done. Now the city council is considering transferring some of the staff to a partially occupied municipal building in another part of the city.
The Hospital Noble has been used for administration purposes since 1983 despite its being handed over to the city on the condition that it would always be used for caring for the sick.
The hospital was built between 1867 and 1870 as a gift to the city from the wife and daughters of Dr Joseph William Noble. They spent their inheritance on the building as a way of showing their appreciation for the treatment received in Malaga by the English doctor who died of cholera in 1861. Joseph Noble had devoted many years to the medical profession in Malaga before his death.
The hospital was built on municipal land to provide medical care not only to the local people but also to the many sailors from different countries who docked in the port. Among them were hundreds of seamen from the German frigate, the ‘Gneisenau’, which was shipwrecked off the Malaga coastline in December 1900.
The hospital was managed at first by the Sisters of Charity until in 1923 it was handed over to the Red Cross. In the Second Republic it changed its name to Hospital Municipal but after the Civil War it recovered its use as a charity hospital. In 1969 it became the property of the City Hall but it wasn’t until 1983 that it was used as municipal offices.
Despite the original conditions the building gradually lost all its links with healthcare. Now all that remains is a collection of antique bottles from the old Municipal Pharmacy.
Eight years ago the mayor, Francisco de la Torre, promised that the building would be used exclusively as a cultural centre when the various municipal departments around the city were moved to the old tobacco factory. So far space for the departments that remain in the Hospital Noble has not been provided.