West Wharf Receiving Station
Carnwath Road, Fulham, SW6
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1885 - 1930


In 1882 the Metropolitan Asylums Board (MAB) moved its smallpox hospital ships - the Atlas, the Endymion and the Castilia - to new moorings at Long Reach, an isolated stretch of the River Thames about 17 miles (27 km) from London Bridge.  The removal of the ships to their new location required the provision of a River Ambulance Service to ferry patients from central London. The following year a pier was constructed at Long Reach for the reception of smallpox cases from wharves to be built at Rotherhithe, Poplar and Fulham. 

In 1885 following the compulsory purchase by MAB of riverside premises belonging to a Miss Sullivan, work began on the Receiving Station to serve west London.  MAB had been keen to acquire this site as it was in a location within easy drive of the Western Hospital at Fulham and the South Western Hospital at Stockwell.

Built on 2 acres of open land on the north bank of the river at Fulham, 500 ft west of Wandsworth Bridge, the West Wharf Receiving Station opened in 1885.  The river walling along the frontage measured 600 ft in length (the walling had been recommended since it would make the surplus land easier to sell).  The land side was also fenced and the pier constructed, together with a porter's lodge, receiving houses and ambulance house.   A piermaster and pierman were in charge of the premises.

By 1886 it had been completed to operational standard.

After the smallpox epidemics of 1892-95 and 1901-2 had subsided the Wharves underwent a period of maintenance and major repairs, e.g. to all the dolphins.  Between 1903-11 the pontoon at West Wharf was removed for repair.  

The 1930 the Metropolitan Asylums Board River Ambulance Service became the London County Council River Ambulance Service.  The West Wharf closed in the same year due to it being 'no longer required for purpose'.

Present status (September 2008)

There is no trace of the Receiving Station. The site is now mostly occupied by smallish apartment blocks.

view across river  view across river
The north bank from across the river

new housing
Nos. 1-5 Carnwath Road, site of the West Wharf,  from across the river

new housing  new housing
  The apartment blocks are located between a retail park in Carnwath Road and the river.
new housing
The riverbank frontage of Nos. 1 and 3 Carnwath Road 

new housing
No. 1 Carnwath Road

new housing
No. 5 Carnwath Road, as seen from the car park

new housing
No. 5 from the riverbank

new housing
No. 3 Carnwath Road

new housing
The access road to the apartment blocks from Carnwath Road.
Ayers G 1971 England's First State Hospitals and the MAB 1867-1930.  London, Wellcome Institute.
Wilson N 1995/6  Ship Ahoy!  Metropolitan Asylums Board River Ambulance Service.  Unpublished dissertation filed at the Wellcome Library.


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