Metropolitan Hospital
359 Kingsland Road, Dalston, E8 4DS
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1836 - 1977

The Metropolitan Free Hospital was founded by Joseph Fry, the son of Elizabeth Fry.  It opened in 1836 at 29 Carey Street, Stepney, to offer treatment to those 'whose only recommendations are poverty, destitution and disease'.  The Governors of the Hospital were mostly businessmen in the City of London.  Only out-patients could be seen at the Hospital because of financial constraints.

In 1843 the Duke of Cambridge visited the Hospital and proposed that six beds should be made available for in-patients. This was achieved the following year.

In 1850 it moved to 8 Devonshire Square.  Again, financial considerations meant that only out-patients could be treated, but two beds were made available to reassure the public that in-patients would be admitted when funds would allow it.

The building, however, was needed by the Great Eastern Railway Company for the extension of Liverpool Street station and, after long negotiations, sold to them in 1876 for £8,500.

The Hospital closed for three weeks while it moved to a former warehouse at 81 Commercial Street in Spitalfields.  The wards opened four months later in April 1876.

It was planned to erect a purpose-built Hospital in Half Moon Street and Bishopsgate Street, but the project was delayed as sitting tenants had to be removed from the site.  By the time this had been achieved, it transpired that the Great Eastern Railway Company needed this site also for Liverpool Street station and the Great Eastern Hotel.  It was sold to them in 1882 for £25,000.

A suitable place for the new Hospital was found in 1883 on the corner of Kingsland Road and St Peter's Road (renamed St Peter's Way in 1936) and the 1.64 acre site was bought for £5,896.  Building began, but delays occurred.  The lease for the Commercial Street building expired in 1885 before the new Hospital was completed.  In-patients had to be sent home or transferred to other hospitals.  A cottage and some shops at the corner of Kingsland Road and Enfield Street were rented on a weekly basis for out-patients, but this arrangement was not satisfactory, so the Management Committee insisted that the Out-Patients Department be completed in two weeks.

The Department finally opened in September 1885, the rest of the Hospital building being completed in 1886.

Intended to serve a poor area, the Hospital suffered from a lack of funds from subscribers.  The Governors decided that the financial situation would only improve if subscribers contributed on a regular basis, whether ill or not.  The word 'Free' was removed from the title and it became simply the Metropolitan Hospital.

By 1896 it had 60 beds, 12 of which were reserved for Jewish patients, who had their own cook, with a Jewish physician on the staff.

In 1902 King Edward VII became its patron.

By 1934 most patients came from Hackney.  Special departments had been established in ENT and gynaecology, as well as a tuberculosis dispensary.

In 1948 it joined the NHS and came under the management of the Central Group.  In 1966 its administration was transferred to the new East London Committee, when it was linked with St Leonard's Hospital in Shoreditch.  Its
Casualty Department closed when the new Accident and Emergency Department opened at St Leonard's Hospital.

The Hospital closed in 1977, with 146 beds.

Present status (January 2008)

Kingsland Business Centre occupies most of the site.

One wing has become the Metropolitan House hostel, providing accommodation for the homeless and for  young Spanish, French and Italians coming to London for work.
A French student was murdered here in 2006.
main building


south side
The south side of the building from along Kingsland Road

The original building - now the Kingsland Business Centre - from the corner of Kingsland and Middleton Roads

hostel front door
The Metropolitan House hostel (left) with the entrance steps (above).  The building still bears the legend 'Metropolitan Hospital' on the frieze above the entrance door.  

north side
The north side along St Peter's Way
Return to alphabetical list
Return to home page