National Orthopaedic Hospital
234 Great Portland Street, W1N 6AD
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1836 - 1905

The origins of the National Orthopaedic Hospital lay in the Society for the Treatment, at Their Own Homes, of Poor Persons Afflicted with Diseases and Distortions of the Spine, Chest, Hip, etc., which had been created in 1836 by Mrs Ogle of Eastbourne.  (The treatment was based on the researches of the surgeon Charles Verral.)  The Society had offices at No. 18 Lowther Arcade, 437 Strand.  

In 1850 the Society, now called the Verral Charitable Society, moved to No. 84 Norton Street (by 1860 it had been renamed Bolsover Street).

By 1853 the Society had been renamed again, this time as the Free Hospital for Deformities, with an address at No. 16 Portland Road (renamed Great Portland Street at the end of the 19th century) and at No. 56 Norton Street - presumably the back and front entrances of the same building, a property 'built at the time of Queen Anne' (1665-1714).

By 1856 it was styled the Spinal Hospital for the Cure of Deformities and had 12 beds.  However, it received no support from the medical establishment until the appointment of two reputable surgeons, one of whom had been in the French Army.

In 1862 the Hospital temporarily  merged with the Great Northern Hospital, which had been forced to move when its premises were bought by the Metropolitan Railway Co.  In-patients were transferred to the Bolsover Street site until the Great Northern Hospital had acquired suitable premises.

By 1865 the Hospital had 18 beds and had been renamed the National Orthopaedic Hospital, with its front entrance on the west side of Bolsover Street, at No. 56.

In 1870 the Hospital received an anonymous donation of £1,000.

By 1871 the nursing staff consisted of a Matron, 2 nurses and an under-nurse.  Other staff included a porter, 2 servants and a metalsmith (presumably for making the surgical appliances).

In 1872 another anonymous donation of £1,000 was received.

In 1874 the Hospital had 25 beds and cots.  While attendance in the Out-Patients Department was free, in-patients were charged a weekly fee of 7s 6d (£0.37) for an adult and 5s 6d (£0.27) for a child.  When financial difficulties loomed in 1877 the weekly charges were raised to 10s 6d (£0.52) for an adult and 7s 6d (£0.37) for a child.

Around 1880 its name changed yet again - to the National Hospital for the Deformed, but after three years the medical staff requested that it revert back to the National Orthopaedic Hospital.

The Hospital's chronic financial plight had begun to ease a little by the 1880s and the existing 25 beds and cots were supplemented with 10 extra cots (by removing partitions in the children's ward).

A building fund was started to raise money for a new wing to be built in the garden of the existing building (the garden backed onto Great Portland Street) at a cost of £7,500, which would be followed by the demolition and replacement of the Queen Anne house (to cost £3,300).

With the funds accumulating, the President of the Hospital, the Marquis of Lorne, laid the memorial stone of the new wing on 14th April 1891.

The new 3-storey building, built in the French Renaissance style, was completed in 1892.  It was lit by electricity and contained two children's wards of 24 beds on the first floor and a 15-bedded ward on the top floor.  The basement and ground floor accommodated the kitchen, the Nurses' Dining Room, a gymnasium, Matron's bedroom and sitting room, consulting rooms and a waiting room for patients.

In the old wing, the consulting rooms were converted into a female ward with 6 beds, in addition to the current female ward with 9 beds.  Matron's bedroom was converted into a male ward with 3 beds, in addition to the current male ward with 5 beds.  Thus, the bed complement of 35 beds and cots was increased to 62.

Most of the patients were children suffering from spinal tuberculosis, congenital club foot and curvature of the bones of the legs due to rickets.

By 1898 the Hospital Committee was hoping to replace the old Queen Anne house with a larger building.  Although its interior was well-kept, with the floorboards well scrubbed and the brass beautifully polished, it was an inconvenient building which had had to be adapted for use as a hospital.

With a view to replacing the old building, in 1898 a lease were purchased on the adjacent No. 57 Bolsover Street.  Following a visit by the King Edward's Hospital Fund, No. 47 Bolsover Street was leased in 1902 as accommodation for the nurses and servants.  The building also contained an office on the ground floor for the Hospital Secretary (who had previously kept files at his home) and a ward for special cases on the upper floor.

However, while the old Bolsover Street building was in danger of falling down, there was very little available in the building fund. Leases on Nos. 54 and 55 Bolsover Street were obtained a little later.

In 1901 a school teacher was appointed by the Hospital Committee to provide an education for  children while they were in-patients  (later the LCC assumed responsibility for their schooling).

In 1903 the King Edward's Hospital Fund, attempting to rationalise orthopaedic services in the capital, suggested a merger of London's three orthopaedic hospitals - the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, the City Orthopaedic Hospital and the National.

At this stage for the Hospital, amalgamation became an attractive and realistic prospect, with a common base situated at the Bolsover Street site.  Even before the union had been formalised, patients from the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital were transferred to Bolsover Street in 1904, where separate facilities were provided for them at No. 55 Bolsover Street.

In 1905 the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital amalgamated with the National Orthopaedic Hospital, and became the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.  Four houses in Bolsover Street were secured from the Howard de Walden estate on which to build a new conjoint hospital.

Present status (December 2007)

The new Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital was built on the site of the Hospital in 1909, replacing the decaying Queen Anne house and the wing built in 1891.  This building is now divided into east and west portions, with an apartment block - Central Park Lodge - on Bolsover Street and consulting rooms for the Portland Hospital for Women and Children on Great Portland Street.

No. 56 Bolsover Street
The eastern side of the Hospital site at No. 56 Bolsover Street is now Central Park Lodge at Nos. 54-58 Bolsover Street.

The western side of the building, fronting onto Great Portland Street, is part of the Portland Hospital for Women and Children.
(Author unstated) 1898 The Hospital World.  National Orthopaedic Hospital, Great Portland Street.  Nursing Record and Hospital World. 10th September, 214.

(Author unstated) 1908 Reflections from a Board Room mirror.  British Journal of Nursing, 1st August, 95.

Cholmeley JA 1985 History of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.  London, Chapman and Hall.

Gerhardt J 2012 The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Collection.

(Accessed 27th August 2013)
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