Memorial Hospital Shooters Hill

Memorial Hospital Shooters Hill

The beginning of 1927 saw 1000 people a week die from an influenza epidemic. A terrifying experience when there was no universal health system. More locally the Mayor of Woolwich, Councillor William Barefoot, nominated the Boot and Shoe fund as is charity which provided shoes for local children who without this help would be like their benefactor, barefoot. Unemployment was high as the demand for ammunitions from The Royal Arsenal dwindled after the First World War.

Duke of York

Duke of York

People’s generosity was remarkable that during this period of hardship a local subscription scheme saw the opening of The Memorial Hospital on 2nd November by The Duke and Duchess of York.

Plan of Memorial Hospital

Plan of Memorial Hospital


The decision to build the hospital was made in 1917. It was to be a lasting benefit for the community and a memorial to the local people killed: 6113 in battle; 100 in accidents at the Royal Arsenal and 14 in air raids.

Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall

It would be the first Post War General Hospital to be built in London. In a period when the majority of people did not have access to health services building a hospital with access through a local subscription scheme was enlightened. Even workers who benefited from Lloyd George’s insurance service were not entitled to hospital treatment unless suffering from tuberculosis. It is no wonder that the Duke of York referred to is as a Temple of Healing.

The total cost of building was £210,000 which included the purchase of 13.5 acres of land. The construction of roads, foundations and drains were done as part of an unemployment relief scheme.

Workers from unemployment relief scheme

Workers from unemployment relief scheme

Not all went to plan as the amount raised by subscription was £179,000 leaving a funding gap of £30,000. This caused local anxiety as it was always the ambition that the hospital open free of debt.

Mayor and local councillors

Mayor of Woolwich opening Memorial Hospital

Woolwich Borough came to the rescue and at a special meeting of the Council agreed a grant to cover the shortfall. Councillor Halse put forward the recommendation stating that he didn’t want to see the hospital opening with “ a loadstone round its neck”. Oh dear what would our forefathers think of PFIs. They may well have raised an eyebrow at the fact we still have hungry children in London.

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