Livingstone Hospital
East Hill, Dartford, Kent DA1 1SA
Medical dates:  

Medical character:  
  1894 - current

   General, maternity.    
   Later, geriatric        

In 1880 the pharmacist and philanthropist Silas Burroughs (1846-1895) and his friend Henry Wellcome (1853-1936) set up a pharmaceutical company, Burroughs Wellcome & Co. (now part of GlaxoSmithKline).  The firm soon needed larger factory space and, in 1889, they purchased the site of the Phoenix Paper Mills in Dartford.

Burroughs took an interest in the health and welfare of his employees and fought hard to establish a local hospital for them in Dartford, despite difficulties in obtaining land.  He donated £1000 personally, initiating a fund for the project.

In April 1894 the journalist Henry Stanley (1841-1904) laid the foundation stone for the new hospital.  Burroughs had requested that it be named in memory of the missionary and explorer David Livingstone (1813-1873).  The Livingstone Cottage Hospital opened later the same year.

Burroughs died unexpectedly of pneumonia in 1895, and a relief bust of him was placed, somewhat incongruously, outside the Wellcome Ward of the Hospital (the Burroughs Ward is opposite).

The Livingstone Hospital was the only general hospital in Dartford until 1913, when the old infirmary at the Dartford Union workhouse became the King Edward Hospital.

In 1928 the X-ray room was extended and the mortuary requisitioned for use as a darkroom; a new mortuary was built on the eastern part of the site.  The verandahs of the wards were fitted with folding glass screens glazed with 'Vita' glass, which enabled them to be used during all seasons.  By this time the Hospital had 40 beds.  The cost of an in-patient per week during 1928 was £2 2s 3d (£2.11), compared with £2 5s 2d (£2.26) in 1927.

In 1937 the High Sheriff of Kent, Mr E.W. Meyerstein, laid the foundation stone for a maternity wing, part of a large extension.  He had donated £500 towards the building costs and the Hospital decided to name the new wing after him.  The Meyerstein Wing was opened in 1938 by the Duchess of Kent.

The cost of an in-patient per week during 1945 was £5 14s 11d (£5.75), compared with £5 9s 7d (£5.48) in 1944.

The Hospital joined the NHS in 1948 with 52 beds.

By 1974 it had 74 beds, by 1983 45 beds and, by 1985, 32 beds.

Although plans were made for its redevelopment, these never materialised and the Livingstone became a community hospital in 1997, providing physiotherapy, health education and child development clinics.  It had two wards.

In 2003, when delays were occurring in discharging patients from acute beds, the Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley PCT decided to  change the use of the Hospital to a rehabilitation unit for elderly patients.

In 2008 the Hospital had to be closed because of an outbreak of Clostridium difficile (a hospital-acquired infection) among the patients.  It reopened a few weeks later after a deep clean.

Present status (September 2008)

The Hospital is still active, providing care for elderly patients.  It is administered by West Kent Primary Care Trust.  

Despite the care provided within being singled out for praise,  the West Kent Primary Care Trust (PCT) considers the buildings are out-of-date, over-crowded and too costly to refurbish. Extended in 2002, the Hospital currently has 38 beds, of which only 30 on the ground floor are used.  Its future remains uncertain and the PCT is discussing the possibility of a 'Livingstone Unit' at the Darent Valley or Gravesham Hospital (all the other Dartford hospitals have closed).

The site also contains the Ellenor Centre, which provides hospice care for terminally ill adults and children at their homes or in local hospitals.
Hospital  Hospital
The Hospital from the east .....  and the west.
entrance foundation stone
The entrance door (left) with the foundation stone laid by Henry Morton Stanley in commemoration of Dr David Livingstone above.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the rock group The Rolling Stones were both born at the Hospital in 1943.

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