Atkinson Morley's Hospital

Copse Hill, Wimbledon,  SW20 0NE

Medical dates:

Medical character:

1867 - 2003

Convalescent.  Later, neurological

Atkinson Morley's Hospital, built during 1867-69 as a convalescent home for patients recovering following treatment at St George's Hospital, Hyde Park, was the first such purpose-built facility to be associated with an inner city hospital.

Atkinson Morley, a former medical student, was the proprietor of the Burlington Hotel and one of the Governors of St George's Hospital.  When he died in 1858 he left the Hospital £150,000 so that it would build its own convalescent home in a quieter place (he had been disturbed by the noise of traffic passing by outside while recovering from an operation at the Hospital).

Prospect Place, a plot of land in Wimbledon which belonged to the second Duke of Wellington, was purchased with the legacy and the Atkinson Morley Convalescent Home opened in 1869.  A large laundry was also built on the site.

Patients and laundry from St George's Hospital were transported to Wimbledon in two-horse drawn black closed carriages on Wednesday afternoons.  One in every six patients at St George's Hospital convalesced at the Home.

In 1888 the horse drawn carriages were replaced by an 'omnibus', purchased for 175 guineas (£183.75), which could transport 14 people.

In 1901 the ceiling of the children's ward collapsed.  No-one was injured but the other ceilings were found to be in a precarious state.  The Home was closed for repairs, during which time electricity was installed.  By 1908 more improvements had been made.

During WW1 the Home cared for servicemen.

In 1922, because of financial difficulties, the Home had to close for three months to save money.  Gradually over the years the purpose of the Home changed, as it began to admit more acute cases and also patients with TB.  In 1939, however, the number of beds had to be reduced to 74, again to cut costs.

During WW2 the Home was used for general acute work and was upgraded to 120 beds.  Possil House (previously Ormond House) in a 3 acre site at 23 Copse Hill was bought for £9000 for use as a Nurses' Home.  In 1942 the surgical wards were taken over for neurosurgery, and the Home became the Atkinson Morley Emergency Hospital.  In 1944 a V1 flying bomb exploded nearby, but only a few windows were damaged.

After the war there was a major change of use for the Hospital, when it became an internationally recognised neuroscience centre, treating head injuries and patients needing neurosurgery.  In 1949 the Department of Psychiatry was established, as well as an X-ray Department specializing in neuroradiology.

By 1954 the Hospital had 44 neurosurgical beds, 16 neurological and 50 psychiatric, with 14 beds available for continuity and recovery.

A Sleep Laboratory was established in 1972.

By the beginning of the 21st century the building was considered too old and out-of-date.  The Hospital closed in 2003 and services transferred to the new neuroscience wing - Atkinson Morley Wing - on the St George's Hospital campus at Tooting.

Present status ( March 2008)

The Hospital buildings are still there but dilapidated.  Apparently the CT scanners are still in situ, even though the Hospital is abandoned.

The 23 acre site was sold in 2006 for £20m to Laguna Quays, a private developer (17 acres of the site are in a designated Conservation Area and therefore not suitable for redevelopment).

Laguna Quays plan to redevelop the former main hospital building as a state-of-the art private hospital for women and children, providing fertility, maternity and paediatric services.  The former Nurses' Home - The Firs - built in the 1960s to replace Possil House is to be upgraded for use as accommodation for staff and visitors.

The sale did not include the neighbouring modern Wolfson Neurorehabilitation Centre,  which remains active.

Hospital building

The main building.


main building and Portakabin

The main building and a Portakabin for 'Domestic services'.

pavilion on eastern side

A pavilion at the eastern part of the site.

main entrance

The main entrance with signage announcing that the Hospital has closed.

'Domestic services'

'Domestic services'.

View from Copse Hill

The former Hospital from the west on Copse Hill.

Prospect Place Prospect Place

Prospect Place

Prospect PlaceProspect Place

 Prospect Place is now a gated development on Copse Hill.  The only original building is the stable block, which has been extended as part of the redevelopment.

Atkinson Morley Hospital was the first NHS Hospital to acquire a clinical CT scanner.  In 1971 Godfrey Hounsfield, Head of the Medical Research Division at EMI, and the neuroradiologist Dr James Ambrose scanned their first patient, a woman with a suspected brain cyst.


Bell BA 1996 Wylie McKissock - reminiscences of a commanding figure in British neurosurgery.  British Journal of Neurosurgery 10, 9-18.

Gould T, Uttley D 1966 A History of the Atkinson Morley Hospital 1869-1995.  London, Athlone.

Richmond C  2004 Obituary: Sir Godfrey Hounsfield.  British Medical Journal 329 (7467), 687.

Ambrose E, Gould T, Uttley D 2006 Obituary: Jamie Ambrose.  British Medical Journal 332 (7547), 977.


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