Aldersbrook Emergency Hospital
Aldersbrook Road, Wanstead, E11 3RJ
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1939 - 1945


Prior to the outbreak of WW2, lengthy and tedious negotiations had been conducted by East Ham Council and the Ministry of Health over the possibility of the Aldersbrook Children's Home becoming an emergency hospital.

In August 1939 the children were evacuated, first to Bacton in Norfolk, and later to Polzeath in Cornwall.  Some members of the Home's staff were retained to work in the new Hospital.

Alterations were made to the buildings by the Borough Engineer at the cost of £78; the ground floor of the main building and the Nursery Block were converted to accommodate a Casualty Clearing Station.

The Hospital opened on 16th September 1939 with 68 beds for civilian and service casualties under the Emergency Medical Service.

In January 1940 further improvements were made to the Hospital's external and emergency lighting systems, and the call bell system.  An Almoner was appointed, mainly to ensure that patients paid for hospital services.

The Hospital had its own operating theatre, so could treat surgical as well as medical cases.  It also had an X-ray and a Physiotherapy Department.

In 1940 the Council decided that the Home's farm, just to the west of the Nursery Block, could keep livestock - sheep and pigs - for the war effort.

In February 1942 a Decontamination and Cleansing Unit (gas attacks were still expected) was erected as an annexe to Morris Lodge, as well as a Receiving Ward, at a cost of £2,247.  In April the Council applied for permission to build four air-raid shelters at a cost of £1,097, but this project was rejected by the Ministry of Health.  In November, Lister Lodge was altered at a cost of £92.

In February 1943 a mess room was provided for the farm workers.

During 1943 the London Regional Commission, in a change of policy, decided to close all First Aid Posts located in hospitals, allowing the hospitals themselves to take over the work.  Thus, the First Aid Post at Aldersbrook, which had been manned by the Wanstead and Woodford Borough Council, closed in September 1943.  Its staff transferred to the Hospital under the command of East Ham Council.  In December 1943 the Council decided to expand the Out-Patients Department.

On 1st April 1945 the Ministry of Health notified the Council that it wished to terminate the arrangement of using the Children's Home as an Emergency Hospital, with effect from 30th September 1945.

On 1st October the buildings reverted to their former use as a children's home.  Fry Lodge became the Receiving Ward for the children, while the Decontamination Unit became the staff canteen and recreation room; part of it was partitioned off for the Nurses' School.

The Emergency Hospital had treated 5,000 in-patients and 60,000 out-patients during its operational lifetime, with 9,000 patients receiving massage treatment (physiotherapy) and 24,000 electrical treatment.  Some 13,000 X-ray examinations had been obtained and 4,680 surgical operations performed.

Present status (March 2009)

The main building of the Children's Home, built in 1910 by West Ham Union, has been demolished.  The Nursery block became the Aldersbrook Maternity Hospital but now, too, has been demolished.  However, the ward buildings survive and have been converted into private dwellings and sheltered apartments for the elderly.  Fry Lodge has also survived and has become private housing.  

  Aldersbrook Childrens Home
Looking down Brading Crescent from Aldersbrook Road.  Fry Lodge is on the left and the former Children's Home is on the right.   East Ham Council assumed responsibility for the Home from the former West Ham Union following the Local Government Act, 1929.

Aldersbrook Childrens Home
Fry Lodge has been converted into two private dwellings.

Aldersbrook Childrens Home

The former Children's Home is now Hayter Court (above and below), sheltered housing under the management of the Springboard Housing Association, now part of the Genesis Housing Group.

Aldersbrook Childrens Home

Aldersbrook Childrens Home
Hayter Court, with Buxton Lodge, Hood Lodge and Joseph Lister Lodge shown beyond.
Aldersbrook Estate
The land around the former Home has been developed as municpal housing forming the Aldersbrook Estate.
Medical and nursing staff
The medical and nursing staff of the Aldersbrook Emergency Hospital (undated photograph).  

(Courtesy of the Archives and Local History Department, Stratford Library)
Most of the information on this Hospital was provided by the East Ham Council minute books filed at the Archives and Local Studies Department at Stratford Library, and grateful acknowledgement is given to the members of staff for their help.  (The Library closed for refurbishment on 1st October 2011 and is expected to re-open in the spring of 2012.)
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