|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON
St Nicholas' Hospital
Tewson Road, Plumstead, SE18 1BA
|1872 - 1986
The Woolwich Union workhouse on Tewson Road opened in 1872. A separate infirmary was built to the south of the workhouse building and opened in 1874.
The infirmary consisted of three ward blocks and had accommodation for children, pregnant women and sick vagrants from the casual ward in Hull Place, to the north of the workhouse. The central building contained offices, a kitchen and staff quarters (the infirmary staff were mostly workhouse inmates).
In 1884 the first Medical Superintendent was appointed; he had the authority to admit emergency cases, usually brought to the infirmary by the Woolwich Union horse ambulance.
In 1890 two observation wards were added, as well as padded cells for violent patients (at this time Poor Law Authorities were required to provide accommodation for the temporary reception of mental patients).
In 1900 another ward block was added and a new laundry built. In 1902 a Nurses' Home was built and the first Matron appointed.
In 1928 the Board of Guardians renamed the infirmary the Plumstead & District Hospital, while the workhouse became the Woolwich Institution. In the same year the Nurses' Home was extended.
In 1930 control of the site passed to the LCC, who renamed it St Nicholas' Hospital. The workhouse became part of the Hospital; its buildings were altered and many walls were removed. St Nicholas' Hospital then had 320 beds.
During WW2 it suffered considerable bomb damage, with the whole of the northern block being completely demolished during one air-raid. In 1945 it was further damaged by a V1 flying bomb.
In 1948 it joined the NHS under the control of the Woolwich Group Hospital Management Committee.
In 1951 a six-storey ward block was built. It contained the Gooding Ward with 23 maternity beds, used as an annexe by the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies.
In 1954 it had 264 beds and, by 1958, it was second largest hospital in the Woolwich Group, with 348 beds. It ran a complete general training course for nurses and the Group School of Radiographt was based at the Hospital.
In 1965 a new Accident & Emergency Department opened.
The Greenwich Health Authority wished to close the Hospital in 1978, but it gained a reprieve. However, without further public consultation, 'temporary closures' began to take place - the minor surgery department closed, followed by a reduction in the number of GP beds. Out-patient facilities were run down, with two ENT clinics moving to the Brook Hospital. The Accident & Emergency Department abruptly closed.
In 1982 the Health Authority again applied to close St Nicholas' Hospital, having starved it of resources. However, this led to a complex row with the Bexley Health Authority. Some 60-odd Bexley patients were being cared for in Greenwich Hospitals, but the Bexley Health Authority wanted some of the financial gains made from the sale of the St Nicholas' Hospital site to be able to provide their own care. It is unclear how this was resolved, but St Nicholas' Hospital finally closed in 1986.
The St Nicholas Centre at 79 Tewson Road.
An old wall on the south side of the new housing development.
New terraced housing on the Hospital site.
The Plumstead Heath Centre in Tewson Road from the entrance driveway.
Nothing to do with the Hospital but intriguing stairways leading to the entrances of houses built on steep ground along Tewson Road.
|References (Accessed 16th November 2014)
Rossborough D 1993 St Nicholas' Hospital, Plumstead. Proceedings, Woolwich & District Antiquarian Society 40, 27-31.
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