Balgowan V.A.D. Hospital
Balgowan Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 4HJ
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1915 - 1919

Military auxiliary

In November 1915 Beckenham Urban District Council lent the Balgowan Road Schools, which had just been completed, to the British Red Cross Society for use as an auxiliary hospital linked to Beckenham Hospital.

The Balgowan V.A.D. Hospital opened in December 1915 with 100 beds.  It provided care to soldiers of the Eastern Command and was staffed by the Kent/96 Voluntary Aid Detachment, with Dr Reginald Maurice Henry Randell as its Medical Officer.

By 1917, when the Hospital had 200 beds, it was affiliated to the Royal Herbert Hospital in Woolwich.

Later, when two marquees were erected in the grounds, it became the largest auxiliary hospital in the area, with 240 beds.

After the war the Hospital continued to provide treatment, and had an Out-Patients Department for discharged soldiers or for those on leave or stationed in the vicinity.  By the time it closed in December 1919, it had treated some 5,257 servicemen.

Present status (November 2010)

The buildings finally became a school in 1920.  Today the Balgowan Primary School occupies the site.  A memorial commemorating the use of the school buildings as an auxiliary military hospital is located in the main hall.

Balgowan Primary School  Balgowan Primary School  
The central building in Balgowan Road is probably the school hall (left).  The two-storey school building on Hampton Avenue bears the date '1915' (right).  

Balgowan Primary School  Balgowan Primary School
The Hampton Avenue frontage (left).  A single-storey block links the central block on Balgowan Avenue with the block fronting Hampton Avenue (right).

Balgowan Primary School
The frontage along Balgowan Road.

Balgowan Primary School  Balgowan Primary School
The boys' half of the school was to the left of the central block (left) and the girls' to the right (right).
Balgowan Primary School  Balgowan Primary School
The entrance to the left of the central block bears the legend 'Boys enter here' (left).   The masonry plaque above the girls' entrance is blank (right).  
Readers' comments

Chilston Ward
Balgowan V.A.D. Beckenham Kent, March 31st 1919

"My father is in the first occupied bed on the left.  He was admitted to the Chilston Ward on 28th January 1919 and operated on by Major Swan on 11th March 1919.  He was moved from there to Dobson War Hospital, Blackheath."

Steven Ayres, Canberra, Australia
(Author unstated) 1917 List of the various hospitals treating military cases in the United Kingdom.  London, H.M.S.O.

Walker J 1979 The British Red Cross in the Bromley area 1910-1919.  Bromley Local History 4, 17-23.


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