Northwood V.A.D. Hospital
Hallowell Road, Northwood, Middlesex HA6 1DN
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1914 - 1919

Military auxiliary

At the onset of WW1 in 1914 the Northwood Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) - Middlesex/10, part of the Eastern Command - was ready to mobilise a 20-bedded hospital at 4 hours notice (Northwood also had a men's First Aid Unit - Middlesex/5).

In October 1914 the Detachment was provisionally offered the Lecture Hall of St John's Presbyterian Church in Hallowell Road for use as an auxiliary hospital for convalescent servicemen.  A local appeal asked for financial support of a shilling (5p) a week while the hospital was open, but soon received promises of 200 shillings (£10) a week.

The V.A.D. Hospital opened on 9th November 1914, but initially had no patients.  Mindful that a congregation had been displaced from its church hall, the Commandant appealed to the War Office and, on 19th November, 14 English and 4 Belgian patients arrived.  Three days later, 9 more were transferred from Stanmore.

When more patients were sent from Windsor, a small house next door, Lea Croft, was leased in April 1915; this provided 10 extra beds.  Later, in the same year, Mr T.M. McAlpine erected a temporary iron hut on the corner of Green Lane and Hallowell Road.  The Hospital then had 50 beds, and the 70 ft (22 metres) long hut - named the McAlpine Ward - also contained a recreation room for the patients.

At the end of June 1915 the Hospital became an auxiliary hospital for the Royal Herbert Hospital (then later for the Edmonton Military Hospital).  By then the V.A.D. staff had been supplemented with 2 Medical Officers and 3 trained nurses.

In 1916, as casualties mounted following the Battle of the Somme, auxiliary hospitals were requested to double their capacity (although its bed complement was 50, the Northwood V.A.D. Hospital actually had 66 patients), and were given a week to do this.  The Presbyterian Church kindly offered their new church building, completed in 1915, for hospital use and moved to the original Lecture Hall to hold its services.  With the McAlpine Ward and the church, the Hospital then had 100 beds in two large wards and one small.  It had cost some £200 to set up the additional ward in the church and 600 shillings (£30) a week to run the Hospital.  Later in the year, when the Hospital was treating up to 90 patients at a time, a wooden hut was added to the site for use as a Day Room.

In April 1917 the Presbyterian Church once more gave up its Lecture Hall, moving its services to the nearby Emmanuel Church.  The Hospital then had 125 beds, which were almost all in constant use.

On 12th November 1918, the day after the armistice, the Detachment requested that it be allowed to close its largest ward, which was in the church building.  The War Office agreed and the patients were transferred to the other wards.  Patients were also received from Eastcote V.A.D. Hospital, which closed.  In early December church services resumed once more in St John's Presbyterian Church.

The Hospital closed on 31st January 1919, having treated some 2,374 patients during its operational life.

The buildings and equipment were disposed of under the direction of the Middlesex County Demobilisation Committee.

In May 1919, the McAlpine Ward and its equipment were taken over by the Northwood War Memorial Committee, who converted it into the initial Northwood and Pinner Cottage Hospital with 12 beds.  The Day Room and kitchen hut was offered to the Urban District Council on loan as an Institute (but would revert to the Cottage Hospital in the longer term).  Surplus equipment was donated to Mount Vernon Hospital and the Eastcote Cripples Home (later renamed St Vincent's Orthopaedic Hospital).  The residue of effects was auctioned in March 1919 to provide funds for the adaption of the McAlpine Ward and £750 for the purchase of War Loan Stock as an Endowment Fund for the War Memorial Hospital.

Present status (August 2010)

St John's Presbyterian Church is now known as the St John's United Reform Church.

St John's Presbyterian church
St John's United Reform Church.

Northwood VAD Hospital
The Church and its Lecture Hall can be seen on the left.  The white building has replaced the Day Room and kitchen hut, and the site of the McAlpine Ward is its car park. 
References (Accessed 19th September 2016)

(Author unstated) (undated - ? 1954)  Surrey Branch British Red Cross Society.  Historical Surray April 1907 - 31st December 1953.  Aldershot, John Drew.

Cowan CA 1970 A History of the Northwood, Pinner and District Hospital.  Northwood, Northwood and Pinner Hospital Voluntary Association.

Fenn CR 1919 Middlesex to Wit.  London, St Catherine Press.

Toms P 2007 The VAD Hospitals in Northwood and Eastcote during World War I.  Ruislip, Northwood and Eastcote Local History Society Journal, 10-15.

Toms P 2007 The VAD Hospitals in Northwood and Eastcote during World War I.  Ruislip, Northwood and Eastcote Local History Society Journal, 16-21.

www.northwoodcommunityarts.co.uk (1)
www.northwoodcommunityarts.co.uk (2)
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