Royal Northern Hospital

Holloway Road, N7 6LD

Medical dates:

Medical character:

1856 - 1992


The Great Northern Hospital was founded, at his own expense, by Dr. Sherard Freeman Statham, an assistant surgeon, who had been dismissed from University College Hospital for smacking a patient's bottom.  

The Hospital opened in 1856 at 11 York Road (later renamed York Way) with 16 beds and provided medical treatment for two hours a day for the poor of north London.  The Hospital received additional funding from the Midland, Great Northern and Metropolitan Railways, whose employees received treatment there.

By the following year the staff had expanded to include 20 physicians, surgeons and dentists.  Two neighbouring houses - 9 and 10 York Road - were acquired, enabling bed numbers to be increased to 50, when finances allowed.

The Hospital was forced to move in 1862 when the premises were bought by the Metropolitan Railway Co.  A house was provided by the railway company - 286 Pentonville Road - for use as an Out-Patients Department.  In-patients were accommodated at the Spinal Hospital at 84 Portland Road; during this period the two Hospitals merged and the Spinal Hospital became the orthopaedic department of the Great Northern Hospital. 

In 1862 Pembroke Villa at the corner of Caledonian Road and Twyford Street was leased for in-patients.   In 1863 the Out-Patients Department moved to 294 Pentonville Road.  Over the next three years the Hospital expanded in more houses in Caledonian Road - Nos. 229, 231 and 233 - but purpose-built premises were still needed.

In 1883, having failed to acquire the freehold for its buildings so that they could be redeveloped, the Hospital joined a committee which was planning to build a Central Hospital in the same area.

The site of Grove House in Holloway Road, with just over an acre of land, was purchased in 1884 and the Great Northern Central Hospital with 68 beds opened in 1888.

A new block was added in 1894.  In 1895 the Hospital was granted medical school status.  Further extensions to the building included the Prince Albert Wing and a circular block with three wards.  In 1898 more ward blocks were opened.

Expansion continued throughout the early 20th century.  An Electrical Department opened in 1908.  In 1911 the word 'Central' was dropped from the title, which had been considered rather cumbersome for some time.  

During WW1 the Hospital became a section of the Second London General Hospital, with 206 beds for wounded and sick servicemen.

In 1917 the freehold of 4-5 Manor Gardens was acquired for a  Nurses' Home.

An X-ray Department was installed in 1918.

In 1919 it was decided to change the name to the Royal Northern Hospital, but this was delayed until its amalgamation with the Royal Chest Hospital in 1921.  In the same year a convalescent home opened in Grovelands, Southgate.  By this time the Royal Northern Hospital had 110 beds.  In 1922 building began for a new Casualty Department, funded by the Islington War Memorial Fund, and a new Nurses' Home.

A School of Radiography, one of the first in the country, opened in 1929, as well as a School of Housekeeping and Catering.

During the 1930s more than 20 houses in Ingleby Road were bought for nurses' residences, and most of the block between Manor Gardens and Tollington Way purchased for future redevelopment.  In 1931 the three-storey St David's Wing, a private patients' block with 55 single and 5 double rooms, opened on the Manor Gardens side of the site.  The Hospital continued to expand and, in 1937, the pharmaceutical firm Beechams Pills Ltd financed new laboratories for pathology, bacteriology and biochemistry, as well as a pharmacy.  A Fracture Clinic opened in the same year, together with an Occupational Therapy Centre and a Radiotherapy Department.

During WW2 both the Royal Northern and Royal Chest Hospitals received bomb damage, 85 beds being destroyed at the latter.  By 1944 the Royal Northern Hospital had 307 beds, including the 60 at Grovelands.

In 1948 the Hospital joined the NHS under the control of the Northern Group Hospital Management Committee, part of the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board.  

In 1955 the Ingleby Arms in Tollington Way became the Occupational Therapy Department.

The Hospital merged with the Whittington Hospital in 1963.

By 1980 it  had 262 beds, including 23 for private patients.  However, during a period of amalgamation in the NHS, it lost out to its important neighbours - the Whittington, University College and Royal Free Hospitals.

It closed in 1992.

Present status (January 2008)

The Northern Medical Centre occupies one of the old blocks.  Part of the site has been redeveloped into a large apartment block.  

Just off the Holloway Road is a small park - the Royal Northern Gardens - which was opened in 2002.  It contains a memorial wall which incorporates masonry from the Hospital.

Royal Northern Hospital

The Northern Medical Centre in Holloway Road.  The facade of the former Hospital has been preserved.

Royal Northern Hospital

The main entrance of the Medical Centre.

Holloway Road

The new apartment block as seen from the south.

Royal Northern Hospital Royal NOrthern Hospital

The Grade II listed Islington War Memorial Arch has been incorporated into the side of the new block in Manor Gardens (left). Looking into the courtyard of the new block (right).

Royal Northern GardensRoyal Northern Gardens

The  ironwork gateway at the entrance to Royal Northern Gardens in Manor Gardens (left). A plaque on the garden gate commemorates the War Memorial (right).

Royal Northern Gardens

A plaque commemorating the site of the Casualty Department, which was built as a War Memorial after WW1.

Royal Northern Gardens

The Royal Northern Gardens.

Royal Northern Hospital

Another plaque inside the Gardens commemorating the War Memorial.

Royal Northern Gardens

The memorial wall  with masonry from the Hospital.

Royal Northern Gardens

A mosaic made by local schoolchildren illustrating various aspects of medical care.  It is situated on the pavement in front of the memorial wall.

Royal NOrthern GardensRoyal Northern Gardens

Foundation stones from the Hospital embedded within the memorial wall (above and below).

Royal Northern Gardens

Reckitt Convalescent Home

In 1907 Mr Francis Reckitt (of the household products firm Reckitt & Sons, today known as Reckitt & Benckisser) donated a sum of money  to provide a convalescent home for the  Hospital.  A suitable site was found in Holland Road, Clacton-on Sea, and the Reckitt Convalescent Home of the Great Northern Central Hospital opened in 1909 with 30 beds.  During WW1 it was used as an auxiliary military hospital.

The building has been demolished, as have several other convalescent homes built in Clacton in the early 20th century.


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

Rinsler A 1992 An Illustrated History of the Royal Northern Hospital, 1856-1992.  London, Whittington Hospital.

Sharma OP 1999 A memorable period.  A small United Nations.  British Medical Journal 319, 1468.









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