Sunday, February 01, 2009


One of my New Year Resolutions is to explore a little more about where I live. Just round the corner from my flat in London there's this sad but very visible sign of the credit crunch. More than a football field's worth of empty land:

It seems definite now that work on the luxury flat development planned for the old Middlesex Hospital has ground to a halt. For a while there were a few machines moving things from one side to another, but now everytime I've walked past there are people standing there, peering through the holes in the hoarding and looking at .... nothing.

I do the same too. I'm not sure what it is we're watching for. Possibly the others are like me and don't know either.

This is what the hospital used to look like:

The description I've found says:
"The Middlesex Hospital's history goes back 250 years. The Middlesex Infirmary opened in 1745 with 18 beds to provide medical treatment for the poor. Funding came from subscriptions and in 1747, the hospital became the first in England to add 'lying-in' (inpatient) beds.

The foundation stone on the present site was laid in 1755 and in 1757, The Middlesex Hospital opened on its current site. Over the years, extra wings were added but in 1924, it was decided that the building was about to collapse and something had to be done. Huge efforts were put into a "The Middlesex is falling down" campaign to raise the necessary million pounds plus to rebuild the hospital. Finally, without ever having closed its doors, the new Middlesex was opened in 1935."

However, there are still little traces of the hospital to be found in the streets around, including these two - separate - signs for libraries:

There will be lots more to show this was once a living, thriving place, I'm sure. I've just got to keep on looking.


Douglas Bruton said...

When you do this kind of digging, it can unearth stories too, food for the fiction writer to feast on.

I earlier read a post of yours about the goose tree... and this plant will not leave my head... and I am sure a story is fermenting there.

And now I want to know more about the old middlesex hospital.



Jenny Beattie said...

Oh wow. I was born there!

Sarah Salway said...

I'm writing about the goose tree too, Douglas! And yes, part of the reason of putting anything up here is that it has triggered something off for me - I love how we all approach ideas in different ways.
JJ - I'll go and take some more pics for you!