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Middlesex Hospital

Middlesex Hospital
File:Middlesex Hospital.jpg
File:Uk london fitzrovia middlesexhospital.jpg
Location Fitzrovia, London, England
Care system NHS England
Hospital type General
Affiliated university University College London
Emergency department No
Founded 1745, moved 1757, rebuilt 1928
Closed 2005
Lists Hospitals in England

The Middlesex Hospital was a teaching hospital located in the Fitzrovia area of London, England. First opened in 1745 by Edinburgh Medical School trained surgeon Charles Bell on Windmill Street, it was moved in 1757 to Mortimer Street where it remained until it was finally closed in 2005. Its staff and services were transferred to various sites within the University College London Hospitals NHS Trust. The Middlesex Hospital Medical School, with a history dating back to 1746, merged with the medical school of University College London in 1987.


The first Middlesex Hospital opened in 1745 as the Middlesex Infirmary in Windmill Street, London W1, named after the county of Middlesex. The infirmary started 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' (maternity) beds.

The second Middlesex Hospital, in Mortimer Street, was opened in 1757. The foundation stone was laid in 1755 by the hospital's president, the Earl of Northumberland. The Hospital was Incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1836, allowing it various benefits as a charity.

Over the years extra wings were added but, in 1924, it was decided that the building was structurally unsound and an entirely new building would be required. The Duke of York, later King George VI, visited the hospital on 26 June 1928 to lay the foundation stone of the new building. He returned to open the completed building on 29 May 1935. The hospital had been completely rebuilt, on the same site and in stages, without ever being closed, paid for by more than £1 million of donations from members of the public. [1] The nurses' home in Foley Street was connected to the hospital by underground tunnels to allow safe and convenient access for nursing staff at night.

Whilst part of the Bloomsbury Health Authority in the 1980s, the Middlesex Hospital was also associated with: St. Peter's Hospital, Soho (urology); St. Paul's Hospital, Red Lion Square (skin and genito-urinary diseases); Soho Hospital for Women (gynaecological disease); Horton and Banstead hospitals (psychiatric disorders); Athlone House (geriatric care); St. Luke's (Woodside) Hospital (psychiatric disorders).

In 1992 the St. Peter's Hospitals were closed down and moved into new accommodation in the Middlesex Hospital, which itself was merged into the University College London Hospitals NHS Trust in 1994.

Although the former county name "Middlesex" is common to all, there was no working connection between the Middlesex Hospital and the North Middlesex, Central Middlesex and West Middlesex Hospitals.

Middlesex Hospital Medical School

The Middlesex Hospital Medical School traced its origins to 1746 (a year after the foundation of the Middlesex Hospital), when students were 'walking the wards'. The motto of the medical school, 'Miseris Succurrere Disco', was provided by one of the deans, Dr William Cayley, from Virgil's Queen Dido aiding a shipwreck: 'Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco' ('Not unacquainted with misfortune myself, I learn to succour the distressed').

At the establishment of the then London University (now University College London), the governors of the Middlesex Hospital declined permission of the former's medical students to use the wards of the Middlesex Hospital for clinical training. This refusal prompted the foundation of the North London Hospital, now University College Hospital.

The medical schools of the Middlesex Hospital and University College Hospital merged in 1987 to form the University College and Middlesex School of Medicine (UCMSM). The current UCL Medical School, which resulted from the merger of UCMSM and the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine in 1998, still honours the Middlesex Hospital in its coat of arms.

The Courtauld Institute of Biochemistry of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School was opened by Samuel Augustine Courtauld in 1928, the foundation stone having been laid on 20 July 1927. Its main entrance was in Riding House Street. Courtauld also endowed a Chair of Biochemistry.[2][3] Notable researchers at the institute include Frank Dickens FRS, Edward Charles Dodds FRS and Sir Brian Wellingham Windeyer FRCS.

Closure & Redevelopment

The Middlesex Hospital closed in December 2005. The main hospital building in Mortimer Street was sold to developer Project Abbey (Guernsey) Ltd for £180 million, considerably more than the anticipated sale price due to the property boom[citation needed], in order to finance the UCL Hospital Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme on Euston Road, and was demolished in the spring of 2008. The chapel of 1890, designed by John Loughborough Pearson, and the heritage facade on Nassau Street were preserved when the site was cleared. The Grade II listed stone and brick building on the corner of Nassau and Mortimer Street was also preserved.

The building was used, just before it was demolished, in the film Eastern Promises. Its name in this film was changed to "Trafalgar Hospital" using an inscription matching the style and apparent age of the old legend above the main door.

Candy and Candy failed in plans to redevelop the site into a 273-apartment luxury accommodation complex, named "NoHo Square".[4] The planned redevelopment of the Mortimer Street site passed to the nationalised Icelandic bank Kaupthing Bank and then to other companies following the 2007 global financial crisis.

In 2010 the site was purchased by Clive Bush and Daniel Van Gelder's Exemplar Properties and Aviva Investors in July 2010.[5] Exemplar decided against retaining either the Candy and Candy designs or the NoHo Square name and instead appointed new architects in Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Sheppard Robson to prepare new designs. Following a public exhibition a planning application for their proposed scheme was submitted in September 2011.[6][7]

Planning consent for the new development, now called Fitzroy Place, was granted in February 2012.[8] This new development, designed by London-based architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Sheppard Robson is underway and is scheduled to complete in December 2014.

Following a public consulation, the name of the new public square in the centre of the site was announced as Pearson Square, acknowledging the work of local resident and renowned architect John Loughborough Pearson who designed the retained hospital chapel sited in the square.

Middlesex Hospital Chapel

John Loughborough Pearson's hospital chapel is now the only surviving building of the Hospital. It was completed after the architect's death under the supervision of his son Frank, also an architect. The chapel was structurally complete in the mid 1920s and the surrounding hospital then demolished and rebuilt around it 1927-29. The chapel was not formally opened until 1929 by which time much of the lavish interior decoration of marbles and mosaic in a mix of Italian gothic and romanesque styles had been added, work largely due to Frank Loughborough Pearson, giving it the appearance it broadly retains today.

The chapel was never consecrated as it was multi-denominational, later multi-faith, in its religious use by hospital staff, patients visitors and chaplains.

During the 2011-14 redevelopment of the site a S.106 planning gain agreement ensured that the chapel was carefully kept stable on a column of soil surrounded by deep piles while the surrounding hospital buildings were demolished for the second time in the chapel's history. Four floors of basement for the new housing car parks were then excavated round it. The chapel fabric and interior were then subject to a £3m restoration and the building re-endowed with maintenance funds by the developer. The planning gain agreement stipulates community use of the restored chapel and it is to be leased to All Souls Langham Place church, who will guarantee public access. The chapel is a Grade II* Listed building.

Paintings of Frederick Cayley Robinson

For nearly 100 years, four giant paintings welcomed visitors to the reception area of The Middlesex Hospital. The Acts of Mercy were painted in 1912 by Frederick Cayley Robinson, a distinctive yet elusive British artist, after being commissioned by Sir Edmund Davis, one of the governors of the hospital. Prior to the demolition of the hospital, the art was purchased by The Wellcome Library, and in 2010, the canvasses were loaned to The National Gallery for an exhibition.

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