|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON
Chiswick Maternity Hospital
Netheravon Road South, Chiswick, W4 2PZ
|1911 - 1975
General. Later, maternity
The Chiswick Cottage Hospital opened in Burlington Lane in June 1911, financed and equipped by an anonymous donor who had agreed to pay its running costs for the first year.
The Hospital had been established in Villa Amalinda, a double-fronted 2-storey house backing on to the factory of the Chiswick Polish Company. In fact, one of its first patients was an employee of the factory whose face was severely scalded from dropping a tin of aniline dye into a pot of boiling wax.
Each of the two large front rooms on the ground floor contained 3 beds - male patients on one side of the hall and female on the other. The kitchen and the operating theatre were also located on the ground floor. The children's ward and dispensary were on the first floor, as were staff quarters for the Matron and nurses.
In January 1912 the anonymous benefactor indicated that he would carry on supporting the Hospital, and even extend its usefulness.
In 1911 Rothbury House on Chiswick Mall had been purchased from Acton Council for £1,900 by Dan Mason, the owner of the Chiswick Polish Company and manufacturer of Cherry Blossom shoe polish. He proved to be the anonymous donor of the cottage hospital and had acquired the building and its site for use as a greatly enlarged hosptal.
The building stood in 0.75 acres of grounds. Rothbury House was converted and became the administration block, while new hospital premises were built in the grounds. The buildings were linked by a covered walkway.
The original Chiswick Cottage Hospital closed in July 1912 and was converted into two apartments as staff residences for the factory. The new Hospital opened in October 1912 as a general hospital with 32 beds. It became known variously as the Chiswick Cottage Hospital, the Chiswick General Hospital or simply the Chiswick Hospital. Its main entrance was in Netheravon Road, with a smaller entrance on Chiswick Mall.
The male and female wards, each with 10 beds, were on the ground floor separated by a central corridor. At the rear of the building was a modern operating theatre. The children's ward with 12 beds was on the upper floor. The Hospital also had an Out-Patients Department, housed in a separate building near the main house. The kitchens and staff quarters were located in Rothbury House.
The Hospital was neither a voluntary nor a public institution and its annual running costs were paid by Mr Mason (who was also a Vice-President of, and benefactor to, the West London Hospital). Due to his personal generosity, no patient was charged for treatment. The only claim needed for admission was that the patient should be a resident of Chiswick or its neighbourhood, be in need of hospital treatment and poor enough to be unable to pay for skilled nursing care.
At the outbreak of WW1 Mr Mason set aside a ward for wounded soldiers, and even collected them himself from Chiswick station in a new ambulance he had purchased for the purpose. However, by 1917 the ward was no longer needed as the wounded were being treated in military hospitals established by the War Office.
Nonetheless, the work of the Hospital had greatly increased among the local population and, in 1917, an 8-bedded ward was opened.
In the 1920s a new X-ray Department was opened, which provided radium treatment free of charge to cancer patients. By this time the Hospital had 43 beds - 8 for male patients, 18 for female and 17 for children.
When Mr Mason decided to live abroad, a Trust was created which included all the assets of the Hospital and a large capital sum vested in the Trustees for its maintenance.
In 1928 Dan Mason died and, in December 1929, the Trustees installed a bronze plaque in the entrance hall of the Hospital in his honour (the plaque is now housed in the Gunnersbury Park Museum).
In the 1930s the Hospital Board decided that Rothbury House, some 150 years old, and the Hospital buildings and their equipment were out-of-date and too costly to maintain. The solution would be to demolish all the buildings and rebuild a new hospital on the site.
The buildings were demolished in 1935 and the foundation stone for the new Hospital was laid in February 1936 by the nephew of the original founder, also called Dan Mason, and his wife.
The building work was almost completed by 1939, when WW2 broke out. A First Aid post was established on the site in 1939 but the main 3-storey building with 38 beds, completed in 1940, could not be opened because of lack of staff.
The new Hospital was used for storage purposes until January 1943, when it was requisitoned by the Ministry of Health, as the maternity unit at the West Middlesex Hospital in Isleworth had been damaged by bombs.
Thus, the Hospital became a maternity hospital, with the first birth taking place on 20th January 1943. As the Hospital became increasingly vulnerable to air-raid damage, in September 1944 it was decided to evacuate the staff and patients to Gateshead on Tyneside. The evacuation proved short-lived and within three three weeks they had all returned.
After the war the Hospital came under the control of the Middlesex County Council, who renamed it Chiswick Maternity Hospital.
The Hospital joined the NHS in 1948 under the management of the South West Middlesex Hospital Management Committee, part of the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board. It once again became a maternity annexe with 66 beds and 55 cots for the West Middlesex Hospital, some 4 miles away.
Following a major reorganisation of the NHS in 1974 the Hospital came under the control of the South Hammersmith (Teaching) District Health Authority, part of the North West Thames Regional Health Authority, who decided to close it as the birthrate in the area had fallen dramatically.
The Hospital closed in 1975.
Present status (December 2007)
In 1976 the Hospital building was used as accommodation for staff, students and physiotherapists from Charing Cross Hospital.
The former Hospital also starred in several films, when the BBC and various film companies used the wards and gardens to feature in films, dramas and documentaries. It has variously been a hospital, a police station, the Home Office, Scotland Yard, a police station and a prison. Its film credits include An American Werewolf in Paris, The Chinese Detective, Angels, Not the Nine O'Clock News and Bergerac.
By 1984 the staff and students and film companies had moved away and the building was empty again. After prolonged discussion over its future the building became Chiswick Lodge, a nursing home for patients with neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders.
|References (Accessed 19th October 2014)
Bartram D 2011 The history of Chiswick Hospital.
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