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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): H02/PCH
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1890-1966
Level of description: subfonds
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Extent: 1.23 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Parkwood Convalescent Home


Administrative/Biographical history:

The scheme for funding a convalescent home was first made public by an anonymous letter to The Times in January 1890. The writer wished to remain unnamed but a journalist revealed his identity as Peter Reid, a prominent member of the stock exchange. He donated the initial sum of one hundred thousand pounds and a friend provided an additional fifty thousand pounds. Mr Ebenezer Homan provided a spacious chapel. There were several convalescent homes near Swanley at the time so it was thought it would be a good location for a new one. An estate known as Parkwood with about 70 acres of garden woodland and fields was purchased and the home was built.

The home was opened on 9 June 1893 providing 80 beds for men and 40 beds for women. Built and owned by Peter Reid it was intended to take patients from several London hospitals in the early stages of convalescence. This was considered an urgent need as at that time most homes only took people in the later stages. There was no formal opening ceremony but on 9 June the home was inspected by a large number of guests. The visitors attended a dedication service, for which a choir was provided from St. Paul's Cathedral.

In the early days Parkwood had a strong affiliation with St. Bartholomew's Hospital and the two other trustees besides Peter Reid were a senior surgeon and Clerk to the Governors of that hospital. However, beds at the home were allocated to a number of different hospitals: 30 to the London, 20 each to Guy's, St. Thomas' and the Middlesex and 15 each to Westminster and St. Mary's.

In 1914 the home was closed due to wartime lack of staff but it was forced to reopen in 1917. There was a great explosion in Silvertown and 400 children from the East End of London were temporarily re-housed at Parkwood. A short while after this the home became a military hospital annexed to Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, which lasted until the end of the war.

Peter Reid had remained Chairman of the trustees of Parkwood until his death in 1917. He was succeeded by Sir Arthur Lucas (died 1922) and then Sir John Murray.

In 1921 Parkwood began its long association with Westminster Hospital. Charles M. Power, house governor and secretary to the Westminster Hospital was also secretary of Parkwood 1921-54.

Parkwood became a military hospital during the Second World War, despite the fact that it was in the direct line of enemy attack. It remained open and treated a number of patients that had been injured during the bombing of London. The nursing staff were provided by the British Red Cross Society, and the Commandant, Miss K. Pawley, continued her association with Parkwood after the war by managing the library and serving on the House Committee.

Parkwood was very little affected by the Health Service Act and the introduction of the NHS in 1948 as it was already part of the Westminster Hospital and no change of administration was imposed. The Board of Governors of the Westminster pursued a policy of making maximum use of Parkwood and it became an auxiliary hospital dealing with more serious cases rather than convalescents.

By the late 1950s Parkwood had 110 beds but was suffering from a shortage of nurses so they were not all used. By 1957 all the beds were for women, and were available first to the Westminster Group (Westminster Hospital, Gordon Hospital, All Saint's Hospital) and then to other hospitals in the South West and South East Metropolitan Regions. Parkwood was finally closed in 1964 and two years later the premises were taken over by the London Fire Brigade.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Parkwood Convalescent Home, including Trustees' minutes, 1913-1950; House Committee agendas and minutes, 1950-1963; annual reports and accounts, 1926-1946; general administrative papers, 1962-1966; plans of the home, 1891; deeds, 1890-1954; scheme of regulation, 1946; registers of nurses, 1949-1963; photograph albums, 1890-1944; certificate of thanks from the Red Cross and St John War Organisation for loan of premises during World War Two, [1945] and an extract from The Quiver: 'Refitting for the Struggle - A visit to the hospital convalescent home at Parkwood', 1895.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The records are arranged as follows: A = Administration, C = Staff records, Y = Related documentation.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright Depositor

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

AC/75/001, ACC/2231

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

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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