LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON
Victoria Hospital for Children
Tite Street, Chelsea, SW3 4JX
1866 - 1964
In February 1866 a meeting was held at 118 Warwick Street, Pimlico, the residence of Dr Edward Ellis, to discuss the urgent need for a children's hospital. It was decided that suitable premises would be chosen in the neighbourhood of King's Road, Chelsea, and that the new hospital would be called the South London Hospital for Children.
Various premises were inspected and Gough House, a large mansion built in 1707, in Queens Road West was eventually leased at a rent of £65 a year. The Committee met at the house for the first time in October 1866 and decided the name of the establishment would be the South Western London Hospital for Children.
An Out-Patients Department opened on 5th November, when the Hospital had been renamed the Victoria Hospital for Sick Children. Patients attended not only from the Chelsea area, but also from all over London. Children up to the age of 16 years were seen. The Hospital's motto was Deo favenie, tandem fit surculus arbor (God willing, a shoot at length becomes a tree).
In April 1867 six in-patient beds were provided for children aged between 3 and 12 years. The following year the number of beds had increased to 32.
In 1873 the Hospital Committee bought the freehold of Gough House for £1500. The Hospital accommodation was rearranged internally, with a new Out-Patients Department with its own entrance in the basement. A baby ward was located on the ground floor and a ward set aside for those with "Hooping Cough". New wards opened in 1874, after which girls up to the age of 16 years were admitted. Around this time the Committee was holding negotiations with the Belgrave Hospital for Children (then in Cumberland Street, Pimlico), with a view to amalgamation, but nothing came of this. In 1876 the building was closed while it was re-roofed and extended. The Hospital then had 10 extra cots and an operating theatre, and some accommodation for the nursing and domestic staff. A fire-proof staircase was installed. The Hospital was officially reopened in May by Princess Louise (Marchioness of Lorne) who had a ward named after her. Later, Princess Alice (Princess Louis of Hesse) visited, and also had a ward named after her.
The Hospital had convalescent cots for its patients in a home
in Sydenham but, in 1876, a Mr Dalton offered a large house in Margate
to the Hospital for use as a convalescent home and "Churchfield" opened
in July, with 7 cots.
The Board of Works offered land adjacent to the Hospital on
building leases and, the Hospital Committee, realising its open
position was coming to an end, bought land to the back and front of the
Hospital, that is towards the river and the main road, to minimize the
encroachment of any properties.
In June 1885 the foundation stone for a new Out-Patients
building was laid by Princess Louise. The new wing was opened by
the Prince and Princess of Wales,
accompanied by their three daughters. The ground floor of the
building contained a waiting hall and consulting rooms for
out-patients, and a dispensary; an adjacent shed provided shelter for
perambulators. The three upper floors contained a Nurses' Home
with 30 bedrooms (many nurses had previously lived in houses nearby).
A covered walkway was built later to connect the new building to
In 1898 the Hospital was forced to close again, due to a diphtheria epidemic. Plans were made for a new in-patients building to be erected to the north of Gough House, which would house 104 in wards of not more than 16 beds each. £25,000 was needed, of which the Zunz charity contributed £5,000. The contract was eventually signed, by which time the cost of the building had risen to £30,779.
The new building opened in 1903. It had three floors of paired wards with 16 cots each, and 8 beds in the new isolation block on the top floor. There was an X-ray Department, an operating theatre and a clinical laboratory. The kitchen and dining room were in the basement, as were the storerooms. The first pair of new wards opened in March 1904, with patients transferred from the old building, and the second pair opened the following month. Gough House was then remodelled to provide administration offices and accommodation for the Resident Medical Officers. An extra storey was added to the building and an entrance made in Tite Street. By 1905 all the work had been completed. Queen Alexandra visited, and the sixth ward, paired with the Annie Zunz Ward, was named after her. The Hospital, which had dropped the word 'Sick' from its title, to become the Victoria Hospital for Children, then had over 100 beds.
During WW1 the Hospital suffered from a shortage of Resident Medical Officers, with the result that two wards had to be closed. In 1915 the closed wards with some 80 beds were offered to the War Office and were used by the 2nd London General Hospital. In 1916 the wards were restored as children's wards. In 1917, because of the shortage of nurses, the Broadstairs Convalescent Home had to be partially closed.
In 1921 the house next door to the Hospital, 29 Tite Street,
becane vacant and was put up for sale. The Committee bought it,
despite grave misgivings about how to pay off the debt. But luck
was on their side, as the Daily Mirror organised a Princess Mary Wedding Gift Appeal to commemorate her marriage. The proceeds of the Appeal were split between the Hospital for Sick Children
in Great Ormond Street and Tite Street; both received over £5,000
each. The premises at No. 29 Tite Street were adapted and, in
November 1922, the Prince of Wales opened the new Princess Mary Home
and Physiotherapy Department. The Home, for private patients, had
two wards, one named after the Prince of Wales and the other after the
Daily Mirror, and an operating theatre. The Hospital then had 138
In 1937 three isolation cubicles were set up for patients requiring intensive nursing care.
After the war negotiations began again with the Belgrave Hospital for Children (now in Clapham Road) concerning amalgamation. Agreement had almost been reached when Whitehall intervened. Under the National Health Service Act, 1946, the Belgrave Hospital was linked with King's College Hospital, while Tite Street became part of the St George's Hospital Group.
In 1957 the Hospital had 110 beds. In view of the government preference to associate care of children more closely with the work of large general hospitals and the difficulty in modernising the Tite Street premises, the Ministry of Health decided to close the Hospital in 1964. Its activities were transferred to the newly built St George's Hospital in Tooting. There, a wing was named to commemorate the Hospital - the Victoria Wing - which contained a block of two wards, while a third children's ward was named the Princess Louise Ward (these wards no longer seem to exist).
St Wilfrid's Convent and Home in Tite Street. The octagonal chapel has a shallow roof and a small lantern.
The entrance is at 29 Tite Street.
The building is at the corner of Royal Hospital Road and Tite Street.
The northern elevation on Royal Hospital Road.
The garden wall along Tite Street (left), with a cruciform view into the garden (right).
The National Army Museum is next door in Royal Hospital Road.
Annie Zunz Wards
Rosser EM 1984 Who was Annie Zunz? Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England 66, 62.
(Author unstated) 1915 News in Brief. The Red Cross 2, 45.
Edwards G 1964 The Victoria Hospital for Children, Tite Street, Chelsea, SW3. A Short Commemorative History 1866-1964. London, St George's Hospital.
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