Grove Road Hospital
Grove Road, Richmond, TW10 6LF
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1787 - 1974


The new purpose-built 2-storey Richmond Union Workhouse opened in Grove Road in April 1787.  A plaque on the building declared it was 'Erected by the Munificence of His Majesty George the III for the use of the poor of Richmond and Kew'.  An infirmary and an institution for 'lunatics and disorderly persons' was added later.

In 1836 the requirements of the Poor Law Amendment Act, 1834, made alterations  to the workhouse necessary; these cost £497 17s (£497.85).  The workhouse by then had 181 inmates.  

By 1886 the workhouse and infirmary contained contagious wards, an Irish ward (!), male vagrant wards, a chapel and a vestry, a laundry, a carpentry shed and a stone yard.

In 1902 a new infirmary was built to the southwest of the workhouse.  It consisted of two 3-storey blocks - one each for male and female patients.  The buildings had 24 beds on each floor, with a separate 3-bedded ward, and were connected by walkways on each level.  A 2-storey Nurses' Home and a one-storey lying-in ward were also linked to the main blocks.  The ambulance house and mortuary were combined in a separate building.

During WW1 the workhouse and infirmary became the Richmond Military Hospital.  In 1915, at 4 o'clock one Sunday morning in November, all the lights of the buildings went out.  There was a strong smell of burning rubber.  A few minutes later there was a huge explosion and fire broke out in one of the wards.  The cause of the explosion is not clear but the consequences were. The windows of the ward were broken and the doors splintered and torn off their hinges.  One nurse was flung outside by the force of the explosion and into a manhole (its cover had been blown off by the blast), but she survived relatively unscathed.  Another nurse was seriously hurt, having been blasted out of the ward and down the stairway with her clothes on fire.  Three of the patients in the ward managed to operate the fire hose, putting out the flames and also unwittingly dousing the nurse, whom they could not identify because of the darkness.  The nurse, although conscious, could not speak and sustained further injuries by rescuers trampling on her.  The noise of the explosion had been heard for miles around.

On 1st July 1918, since by then the Hospital was treating mainly South African wounded, it merged with its neighbour, the South African Hospital, which had been built in Richmond Park on the other side of the perimeter wall.

In 1929 the LCC took over the administration and the workhouse and infirmary were renamed the Richmond Institution.

In 1948 the Institution joined the NHS under the South West Metropolitan Regional Health Board.  Its name was changed to Grove Road Hospital.

It closed as a general hospital in 1974 during one the many reorganisations of the NHS.

Present status (May 2008)

The site was converted to residential use by the London and Quadrant Housing Association, who created 361 dwellings.  The south part of the site is now public housing - Kingsmead - which opened in 1987.  The northern part is a gated estate - King George Square - with apparently several preserved buildings.

 Apart from the main building, little survives other than the former entrance lodge.  

Kingsmead  former lodge
The former entrance lodge is situated by the gates of King George Square.

King George Square
The main workhouse building with the inscription beneath the central cupola and clock is part of the King George Square development.

More gates of the gated community.

King George Square (above)

Kingsmead (below)

entrance to Kingsmead  workhouse gym sign

The entrance to Kingsmead (left).  One link to the distant past is the sign for the Workhouse gym (right).

new building  new building
Damer House.

new building  new building
Eliot House (left) and Damer House (right).

new building
Fitzherbert House contains sheltered accommodation which, until 2009, was managed by the London and Quadrant Housing Trust.  It is now the responsibility of the Richmond Council.
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