White City Military Hospital
White City Road, Hammersmith, W12 7PT
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1914 - 1915


In 1914 the White City exhibition site was converted into quarters for 12,000 troops, for whom the Territorial Force Association (T.F.A.) had to establish a small hospital for those injured or sick.

On 18th October 1914 the London/28 Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) of the Kensington Red Cross Division was given this task.  It received three days notice to collect the equipment promised by the residents of the neighbourhood.  Each item was marked and entered into books by the Quartermaster as either a loan or a gift.  Anything lacking was purchased from funds held by the British Red Cross Society.

At 14.00 hr on 21st October the Detachment took possession of the Royal Pavilion and, by 16.30 hr, the staff of 20 was ready to receive accident and emergency cases, while work continued on the drains, the lighting, the heating and the gas stoves in the kitchen.  By 18.00 hr one ward of 8 beds had been fully equipped.  By 10.00 hr the next day the kitchen, the Day Room with all its stores, and the second ward, also with 8 beds, were ready.  Patients soon began to arrive.

The medical staff and medical supplies were provided by the Royal Army Medical Corps and were appointed by the T.F.A., who also appointed the Matron and 4 orderlies.  The management and the cooking was undertaken by the London/28 V.A.D., who supplied a Commandant, a Lady Supervisor, a Quartermaster, a dispenser, a clerk, 5 cooks, and 9 V.A.D. nurses for general nursing duty during the day and one trained nurse and 2 V.A.D. nurses for night duties.  (The White City, which lay on the outskirts of London, was not an easy place to reach, with many members of the Kensington V.A.D. having a long journey to and from their more fashionable suburb some miles away.)

After two weeks it was realized that the 16-bed Hospital was quite inadequate and another pavilion was given to the Detachment.  This held another 16 beds, with a small portion closed off to make an isolation ward.

At the end of the first month the Red Cross V.A.D. handed over command of the Hospital to a St John's  Detachment, the London/88 V.A.D., who ran it for a month, then handed it back to the London/28.

In December 1914 the T.F.A. vacated and the War Office took over command of the White City camp.  The Deputy Director of Medical Services refused to sanction the constant change of the personnel (with the St John and Red Cross V.A.D.s taking alternate monthly duties) and the London/28 was requested to stay on.

In January 1915 it became necessary to enlarge the Hospital once again, and a corner of the Officer's Mess was given over to make another ward of 9 beds.  By March 1915 some 485 patients had received treatment since the opening of the Hospital.  

Becasue of the constant turnover of patients, the work was exceedingly heavy.  During the day 22 members of the V.A.D. were on duty from 9 o'clock in the morning until 9 o'clock at night.  At night they were replaced by a trained nurse and 2 V.A.D. nurses.  Much of the equipment had had to be improvised; all the stores, pack stores and cupboards consisted of sugar boxes lined with glazed calico, which were curtained off.  The V.A.D.s did their own upholstery work and put up their own shelves.  Despite these difficulties, the cooks were throughout praised for their food.

An epidemic of measles at the beginning of February necessitated a large empty pavilion nearby be made into a measles ward with 16 beds.  This ward was run by a trained nurse with 2 orderlies, while the V.A.D. undertook responsibilities for supervision, laundry and food.

The Hospital also had a very large Out-Patients Department, with the V.A.D. supplying its own dispensary.  In the six months that the Hospital was operational, over 10,000 servicemen were seen as out-patients, excluding inoculations.

Of the 996 in-patients treated, only one died.

The Hospital closed on 30th April 1915.  The V.A.D. received very little notice, but everything was cleared up in three days.  All the stores were returned to Divisional store, mainly in the sugar boxes which had served as cupboards.

Present status (November 2010)

The Canberra Primary School occupies the site of the Royal Pavilion.

  Canberra School
Looking directly across Australia Road to the site of the Royal Pavilion.

Canberra School  Canberra School 
The School seen from the southeast (left) and the northeast (right).

The White City

In January 1907 work began to build
the exhibition halls for the Franco-British Exhibition on a 140-acre site, previously open scrubland, near Shepherd's Bush.

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906 had made Rome unable to host the 1908 Olympic Games.  London offered to stage the event instead and an Olympic stadium was built to the north of the site.

The Great Stadium was officially opened by King Edward VII on 27th April, 1908.

The Franco-British Exhibition was officially opened on 14th May, 1908 by the Prince of Wales (later King George V).  There were some 120 exhibition buildings and 20 pavilions, built of steel frames and concrete covered with plaster.  Most had been designed in an Oriental stylewith domes and arabesque arches, and mouldings attached to the walls.  The buildings had then been painted white, giving the Exhibition area the name of the 'White City'.

The Olympic Games and the Franco-British Exhibition closed on 31st October, 1908.  The site was then used to host various exhibitions until 1914.

During WW1 the White City became a training centre for army recruits.

In 1921 it was again used for exhibitions and fairs, but never to the same extent as the pre-war years.  In 1936 a large part of the site was bought by Hammersmith Borough Council, who used it to built social housing.

The White City Stadium continued to be used for athletics until 1914, when it was requisitioned by the army.  After the war it became a greyhound track, and was also used for football and various other sports.  It was demolished in 1985. BBC premises now occupy most of its site.

References (Accessed 18th September 2016)


References (Accessed 18th September 2016)

(Author unstated) 1915 News in brief.  The Red Cross 2, 70/

(Author unstated) 1925 British Red Cross Society.  County of London Branch Annual Reports 1914-1924.  London, Harrison & Sons.

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

Reid H 1949 British Red Cross Society.  Story of the County of London Branch.  London, British Red Cross Society.

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