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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): H48
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1873-200-
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 19.42 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Joyce Green Hospital


Administrative/Biographical history:

Joyce Green Hospital, Joyce Green Lane, Dartford; previous name: Joyce Green Smallpox Hospital (1903 - 1948).

Previous locations:
Hospital ships: Dreadnought, Greenwich (1871 - 1881)
Endymion and Atlas, Greenwich (1881 - 1884)
Long Reach, Dartford (1884 - 1903)
Castalia, Long Reach, Dartford (1884 - 1903).

The Joyce Green Smallpox Hospital opened on 28 December 1903, the third of the hospitals known as the River Hospitals, along with Long Reach Hospital and The Orchard. They were built to replace the hospital ships Atlas and Endymion which had been moved in 1884 from Greenwich to an isolated situation at Long Reach near Dartford, and the twin hulled Castalia. Originally built for cross-channel services but never used as such, the Castalia was refitted to accommodate 150 smallpox patients with five ward blocks arranged on the double hulls. The hospital ships became too costly and dangerous and after the construction of the new hospital on land nearby Long Reach; they were sold for scrap in 1904.

With a massive outbreak of smallpox in 1901 the temporary Long Reach hospital with 300 beds opened in 1902. The Orchard a larger temporary hospital housing 800 beds also opened in 1902 and at the end of 1903 Joyce Green was opened. All three were administered by a Medical Superintendent, Steward and Matron and were known as The River Hospital for over 60 years until Long Reach and the Orchard closed in 1948.

Although Joyce Green opened to help ease the 1901 smallpox epidemic by the end of 1903 the epidemic was over and deaths were few. Not until the 1920's was there a repeat epidemic but this was only a minor one. Instead the hospital was used as a fever hospital to isolate infectious patients.

It was used as a fever hospital for much of the Great War, occasionally coping with the arrival of large numbers of war refuges most notably in July 1918 when at a week's notice 1000 refuges were received all of whom were vaccinated against smallpox even though only two were found to be infected. After the war, Joyce Green reverted to being a fever hospital with a major outbreak of scarlet fever.

By 1923 Joyce Green was more or less empty and surviving the threat of demolition was rebuilt and repaired taking into account modern thought to include isolation units and electric light. The Medical Superintendent at this time also turned his attention to the grounds at Joyce Green, which to his credit and that of his gardener, Henry W. Hopkins, became a centre of plant propagation for other Metropolitan Asylums Board institutions. In 1928 there was a major outbreak of smallpox so Joyce Green was finally being used for its true purpose.

With the outbreak of War, Joyce Green underwent several changes in role from smallpox hospital to fever hospital to Emergency Medical Hospital from 1939 -1941, and it saw an increase in beds from 986 to over 1500 and the setting up of specialist hospital units including three x-ray departments. The hospital survived with no major was damage but by 1945 patient numbers fell back to 428, and with the cessation of war a decline in activity.

In 1948 the NHS took control from the London County Council and Joyce Green was run by the South East Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board and Darenth and Dartford Hospital Management Committee. In 1974 after NHS reorganisation it was run by the South East Thames Regional Health Authority and the Dartford and Gravesham District Health Authority.

In 1998 Joyce Green Hospital formed part of the Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust along with West Hill Hospital, which is closed to all except outpatients. Joyce green covers Accident and Emergency, general surgery, urology, orthopaedics, paediatrics, haematology, general medicine, care of the elderly and postgraduate medical training. In September 2000 the purpose built Darenth Valley Hospital opened to replace Joyce Green Hospital, West Hill Hospitals and Gravesend maternity services.

See also website managed by Francine Payne: (correct as of August 2010).


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Joyce Green Hospital, 1873-1980, including Visiting committee and Chapel committee minutes; engineer's reports; papers of the Medical Officer; correspondence; administrative files on the River Ambulance service, hospital ships, and the Royal Commission on Vaccinations; case books; operations registers; baptism registers; death registers; cemetery registers; register of staff; nurses records; matron's records; chaplain's reports and journals; plans of hospital buildings; photographs used to aid identification of rashes, glass plate negatives of smallpox patients, stereograph viewer and prints.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

These records are arranged according to a classification scheme for hospital records: General Hospital Administration (A), Patients' Administration (B), Finance Office (D), Endowments (E), Related Documentation (Y) and Prints and Photographs (PH).

Conditions governing access:

These records are open to public inspection, although under section 5(4) of the 1958 Public Records Act administrative records are closed for 30 years and patient records for 100 years.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright rests with the Depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Material received in several deposits, in 1987, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2010.

Allied Materials

Related material:

See Darenth and Dartford Hospital Management Committee: minutes and correspondence (1949-1974) (H66).
See South East Thames Regional Health Authority (HA/SE).
Copies of staff magazine "Green News" have been deposited with Dartford Library.

Publication note:

For further information see: 'Dartford's Capital River: Paddle Steamers, Personalities and Smallpox Boats' by Dr J. Burne; and Payne, Francine: 'Joyce Green and the River Hospitals' (2001) [LMA Library reference: store 26.15/(RIV)].

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
February 2009

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