Royal Herbert Hospital

Royal Herbert Hospital

The massive stone piers of the The Herbert Pavilions ,with ornamental lamp-holders, at the entrance leaves you in no doubt that this was an important building. In its time it was a futuristic building, as it was the first hospital in the country to have the Pavilion design influenced by Florence Nightingale. A large block, which was the administrative building fronts on to Shooters Hill.

Bust of Florence Nightingale

Bust of Florence Nightingale

Behind are seven two-storey pavilions at right angles to the road. In the central pavilion a grand staircase leads to a large chapel. At one time there was a bust of Florence Nightingale made by disabled servicemen at the Kidbrooke Rehabilitation Centre. Take a look at this postcard of the patients’ dining area. Oh how standards have changed!

Patients' dining room

Patients’ dining room

Situated on the corner of Shooters Hill and Well Hall Road it was originally the army’s Herbert Hospital opened November 1865. It became the Royal Herbert Hospital following a visit by Queen Victoria 22nd March 1900.The Queen visited the Royal Arsenal in the morning and then proceeded to the hospital. She was accompanied by her third daughter Helena (Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein) and her grand-daughter the Young Princess Victoria. The entrance to the hospital was decorated with flags and they were met by the Principal Medical Officer Lieutenant Colonel Bourke. The Royal party stayed for well over an hour talking to convalescing soldiers. In line with Victorian sensibilites the Royal party were sheltered from the seriously injured men.

The hospital closed 25th June 1977 and was, thank goodness, saved from demolition by a Local and English Heritage listing. In 1990 the site was bought by a developer and converted into apartments. Its lost the title of hospital and is now known as the Herbert Pavilions.

Former Brooke Fever Hospital

Former Brooke Fever Hospital

A little way down Shooters Hill, just back from the main road is the old Brook Hospital. It opened in 1896 as a “fever hospital”. It wan’t until I came across Lowry’s painting The Fever Van that I realised what a scurge scarlet fever was in the early C20th. The painting shows an ambulance collecting a fever victim and the community coming out to watch. The painting shows the pain of the whole community as the prospect of return was very slim indeed. During the First World War the hospital became an additional military hospital with some beds reserved for prisoners of war. It is now apartments.

Water Tower Shooters Hill
The water tower that serviced the hospital has been converted into a “Grand Design” dwelling which has been empty for sometime. Shooters Hill was once known as the “street of hospitals” because of these and the Memorial Hospital further up the hill and of course the animal hospital opposite the Fox under the Hill.

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