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A Chance To Visit The Old London Hospital

April 17, 2018
by the gentle author

Inhabited only by the lonely ghost of Joseph Merrick, the former Royal London Hospital building in Whitechapel sits in limbo awaiting its new purpose as Town Hall for the Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Yet before the redevelopment begins there is a chance to take a guided tour of the hospital estate on Saturday 28th April, courtesy of the Survey of London whose volume on the buildings of Whitechapel will be published next year. Click here to book.

Contributing Photographer Phil Maxwell was granted privileged access to record the empty hospital. His new film Pensioners United, created in collaboration with Hazuan Hashim, has its premiere at the East End Film Festival on Friday 27th April. Click here to book.

Photographs copyright © Phil Maxwell

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17 Responses leave one →
  1. Brenda Wordsworth permalink
    April 17, 2018

    These photos have brought back some memories! I started training at the London in 1969 and lived in the nurses’ homes photographed here. If I still lived in the UK I might have gone to for the tour. We used the bridges between the buildings when it was cold or wet and at night when the all the entrances to the homes except one were locked. We had to knock to be allowed in by a porter. Still dream about the place and going up and down stairs, along corridors and over the bridges to get back to my room in the Edith Cavell Nurses’ Home.

  2. April 17, 2018

    I was born here in 1960. My son was born here in 1992. Plenty of memories over the years but it was getting very run down when I was last there. Shame I’m unable to make the tour.

  3. Sally permalink
    April 17, 2018

    The tour has sold out – is there any way there could be another tour before development?

  4. Neil Bartlett permalink
    April 17, 2018

    LBTH leaders sold off most of its lovely old Town Halls scattered strategically around the borough preferring the expensive glass and marble beacon to the boroughs largely poor residents on its most isolated boundary. Ironic that they now return to a lovely old building that is iconic to the East End. Overly photos Phil.

  5. VANDA HUMAN permalink
    April 17, 2018

    The UK has so many beautiful old buildings, which unfortunately are been demolished.
    Is it not possible just to revamp these buildings to make flats etc, for the pensioners or under privileged people.

    If I was a resident I would have loved to join the tour.

  6. Richard permalink
    April 17, 2018

    Agree with Sally. Could another tour be organised. The organisers could make a bit more. The fee is quite low!

  7. April 17, 2018

    Hello Gentle Author
    Thank you so much for helping to promote our guided walk on the 28th and it’s great to be reminded of Phil Maxwell’s photographs. A couple of things ought to be clarified for your readers, particularly if they are signing up for the walk. Our walk will be a tour of the London Hospital Estate, that is the streets around the hospital, and will be all outdoors, not taking in the former hospital’s interiors, which are not presently accessible. Given the strong demand for places, we will up the numbers and take two groups round, one clockwise, the other counter-clockwise, but we don’t want anyone to be disappointed about the nature of the event.
    Also, sad to say, our Whitechapel work won’t be definitively published this year. Our contributory website is open to all into next year, and will remain an open resource long after that. Final publication is likely to be in 2021.

  8. Adele permalink
    April 17, 2018

    I lived on the London Hospital ‘Estate’ from birth until my early twenties. Those streets surrounding the hospital were our playgrounds. Our old house still stands, modernized with indoor bathrooms. They are now considered to be some of the best surviving terraced houses in London. Who’d have thought…..

  9. Connie permalink
    April 17, 2018

    Lovely old building, I almost expected to see John’s shadow somewhere. The wrought iron locks and latches were a work art. This was a fascination article. Thanks again for sharing.

  10. Jennifer Newbold permalink
    April 17, 2018

    I’m glad that the building is to be repurposed; I have a soft spot in my heart for 18th century buildings. On this side of the ocean we have far too few remaining, even here in New England.

    I can however appreciate the need for a new hospital building, even if I think it looks like something my children would construct in Minecraft…

  11. April 17, 2018

    Hi, I am so disappointed that the tour is sold out, I would so LOVE to have seen around this extraordinary building. Is there any way of getting my name onto a waiting list incase of a cancellation..?

    With many thanks. Zoe

  12. Jeff Matthews permalink
    April 17, 2018

    On December 24th, 1901 Levi Aronovitch was beaten and robbed on the streets of Whitechapel. He was taken to The London Hospital. He died there. I have been researching this case for two years but apart from the Post Mortem report I can find no other details, which is strange. Any suggestions gratefully received. I would have loved to visit this building.

  13. Audrey white permalink
    April 18, 2018

    Phil Maxwell’s & Hazuan Hashim’s films about the East End are iconic. Thanks for letting us know about Pensioners United.

  14. Stephanie permalink
    April 19, 2018

    I would love to go on a tour. I worked as a temp here in the early 1970s and remember the basement which was huge and all the old medical records were stored there.

  15. April 20, 2018

    Hello Everyone

    We have now set up a waitlist on the ticketing site, so you can put your name down and see if anyone drops out before next Saturday 28th.

    However, we don’t want to disappoint, and there is a guide that you can download and actually take the walk yourself. You can download it from our site here

    Click on ‘Guide to a walking tour…’

    Best wishes

    Shahed Saleem

  16. January 24, 2021

    I trained as a nurse at The London from 1970-1973. The pictures bring back so many memories. I was so happy at The London, in Set 418. Made some amazing friends that I am still in contact with. What a wonderful place it was to work.

  17. Simon Spall permalink
    December 12, 2022

    Enjoyed those photos but also gave me a bit of a chill.
    I was in Harrison Ward ICU 4th April 2007 close to death but the fantastic staff there saved my life when on 2 occasions when I was in cardiac arrest. I don’t recall it but was told.
    12 broken ribs, 3 broken vertebrae, collarbone snapped in 4 pieces, scapula broken in half, punctured lung and a bruise on my chin ? I was in for 3 months, ICU to HDU. Then sent home too early, promptly took a turn for worst. Walked into A&E Darent valley. Lady at desk took one look at me and shouted for the doc. Went in immediately and had blood transfusion followed by lung drain back in. Then told if I don’t go back to Royal London I would probably die as only they had the Thoracic skills to save me – again.
    Went back to same bed discharged from in HDU. So grateful to NHS

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