Postcard of the month - #36 - May 2003
The London Chest Hospital, Bethnal Green
|The London Chest Hospital, originally called
"The City of London Hospital for the Diseases of the Chest", began its work in
1848 when a Public Dispensary was opened in nearby Liverpool Street. A group of
benefactors then came together to the raise the money needed to open a Public Dispensary
and a hospital.
For the hospital they rented a piece of land in Bonner Fields, near the newly opened Victoria Park. Prince Albert laid the foundation stone in 1851. Surprisingly for the time, the design chosen was a three-storey building in the Queen Ann style and not in the usual Gothic style of the Victorian period.
With air pollution, grinding poverty and terrible housing conditions, chronic lung diseases, particularly tuberculosis, were endemic amongst the poor of the East End. The London Chest Hospital, opened in 1855, was to provide, much needed, treatment and care to those suffering from tuberculosis and other chest complaints.
The London Chest Hospital, within a short period of time, became world renowned for the treatment of heart and lung diseases, especially tuberculosis. In December 1855, Dickens in his popular publication Household Words, praised the work of the new Hospital.
To provide open-air treatment for those patients suffering from tuberculosis, balconies were added to the outside of the building in the early 1900s. During the First World War, The London Chest Hospital treated injured soldiers from the Western Front, especially those suffering from the effects of poison gas. In the Second World War the Hospital once again cared for the war injured, only this time from the home front as well. The Hospital, itself, was badly damaged by enemy bombing.
Since 1948, The London Chest Hospital has been part of the National Health Service and continued to develop its pioneering work in heart and lung diseases. Then in 1994, the Hospital merged with The Royal London and St Bartholomew to form the Barts and the London NHT Trust.
For over 150 years, The London Chest Hospital has served the local community and played a leading part in the social history of the East End. For there cannot be many East End families who have not had some contact with "The Chest Hospital", its local name, at one time or another.
(Information obtained from publications produced by The London Chest Hospital)
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