Paddington Adult
Mental Handicap Unit
291 Harrow Road, Paddington, W9 3NF
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1982 - current

Mental handicap

This small community unit for mentally handicapped adults was officially opened in April 1982 by Dr John Dunwoody, Chairman of the Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster Area Health Authority (Teaching).  It was the first purpose-built unit for the mentally handicapped to be built in London by the NHS.

Rather unimaginatively but accurately and descriptively named '291 Harrow Road' (although designated, also accurately,  in the Medical Directory as the Paddington Adult Mental Handicap Unit), it had 16 beds and provided a mixture of day care and short- and long-stay accommodation, as well as rehabilitation.  The unit enabled patients in Westminster to be treated near where they lived and could also provide closer support for those living at home.

The unit includes three linked bungalows, each partly self-contained, and a communal area with a kitchen and laundry.  Each resident has his or her own bedroom and the shared amenities are accessible by wheelchair users.  Designed by the DHSS Works Group and the Development Team for the Mentally Handicapped for the North-west Thames Region, it had been built in a record time of just under one year.  

Present status (January 2010)

Built on the northeast corner of the St Mary's Hospital (Harrow Road) site, the property is owned by Westminster Primary Care Trust.  Flats A and B provide accommodation and care for 8 people with learning difficulties and physical disabilities.  Flat C accommodates 6 people with learning difficulties and is rented out to the Westminster Society for People with Learning Disabilities.

The Unit also has a separate building, rented to Yarrow Housing, which is used to accommodate 6 people with autism and learning difficulties.

291 Harrow Road
The low-level unit is located on the corner of Harrow Road and Elmfield Way.

  291 Harrow Road 
291 Harrow Road 
291 Harrow Road 291 Harrow Road
The domestic-style bungalows of the unit.
  'N3'  'N3'
The site known as 'N3' is owned by the Department of Health.  Plans to build a hostel in 1988 for 420 medical and nursing personnel came to nought.

In 2007 it was proposed to use it to build new accommodation for mentally handicapped patients.  Those resident in 291 Harrow Road would move to the new premises while 291 was redeveloped, but to date (January 2010) this has not happened.  The site remains derelict and has become a dumping ground (below).

(Author unstated) 1982 Inner-city community mental handicap unit.  British Medical Journal Clin Res Ed 284, 1126.

Grey 1984  291 Harrow Road, W9.  Journal of the British Institute of Mental Handicap (APEX) 12, 139-141.

Hunt A, Smith A 1982  291 Harrow Road.  Nursing Times 78, 1595-1598.

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