The Manchester Northern Hospital was founded in 1856 as the Clinical Hospital and Dispensary for Children, in Stevenson Square. It was the creation of Dr August Schoepf Merei, a Hungarian in exile, who had earlier set up a local clinical school for the study of diseases of young children. He was assisted by James Whitehead, a lecturer in obstetrics at the Royal School of Medicine, Manchester and a surgeon at the Lying-in Hospital. Merei was particularly keen to establish a school of research into children's diseases; the focus of the hospital was on research and teaching rather than medical relief.
The hospital quickly developed expertise in the growth and development of children. From the beginning there was a recognition of the need for the education of mothers. Merei died in 1858, his work was continued by Whitehead. In 1859, a Ladies Committee was founded. This committee did much work in running the hospital and raising funds, in direct competition with what later became the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital. The early hospital consisted of a dispensary with two beds. More space was needed and the hospital began looking for new premises in 1862. In 1864 land on Park Place, Cheetham Hill Road, was purchased, and the new 25 bed hospital was opened in 1867. Later extensions provided 22 beds for women and 51 cots for children. The hospital was extremely short of funds in the late 1860s, but was helped by the newly founded Hospital Sunday Fund. In the 1870s a convalescent home was set up at Well House, in Crab, Blackley. The name of the home was changed to the Clinical Hospital Convalescent Home in 1887, but it was sold in 1896.
The hospital was originally a children's hospital, but admitted women from an early date. There was a women's department, but it had no in-patients until the 'Whitehead ward' was opened in 1881. In 1882 the name was changed to the Clinical Hospital for Women and Children, due to the increase in admissions of women. The rise in admissions led to the building of a new wing in 1887 and a large extension in 1892 gave the hospital a frontage on Cheetham Hill Road. The first woman surgeon was appointed in 1900. The name of the hospital was changed again in 1902, to the Manchester Northern Hospital for Women and Children. Despite extensions and the building of a new operating theatre in 1909, there was a growing realisation that the hospital building was out of date, with no open-air facilities etc.
A decision was made in the 1920s to build a new hospital on Alms Hill, where a site had been given by Sir Edward Holt. However, due to a lack of finance, the hospital only opened in 1934. With the advent of the NHS in 1948, Manchester Northern Hospital became part of North Manchester Group. The hospital became a general hospital, admitting male patients. Most of the children's beds were transferred leaving only 11 children's beds. The hospital closed in 1994.