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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): H44/WMH
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1912-2003
Level of description: subfonds
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Extent: 15 linear feet
Name of creator(s): Woolwich Memorial Hospital


Administrative/Biographical history:

The use of the site of the Woolwich Memorial Hospital for healthcare can be traced back to December 1888 when land was leased from the Secretary of State for War for the purpose of establishing the Woolwich and Plumstead Cottage Hospital. In November 1890, the first patients were admitted, and in 1913 the hospital became incorporated under the Companies Act.

Thoughts about replacing the Woolwich and Plumstead Cottage hospital with a more modern hospital had had to be put on hold with the advent of World War One. Almost before the end of the war these plans were renewed with a notable difference. It was felt that the new hospital should also serve as a memorial to the local war dead. The Hospital Fund was set up and an appeal was made to the local people to raise fifty thousand pounds - the anticipated cost of a 110-bedded modern hospital. The appeal received tremendous local response. In April 1919 a Peace Fair raised five thousand pounds towards the fund. In September 1919 a 13 and a half acre site was purchased from Major and Mrs. Phillips for the building of a hospital which would eventually accommodate 300 beds.

In March 1920 events ranged from a popular dance at Plumstead baths (admission 1/6d) through a select dance at the Town Hall (admission 2/-) to a super concert at the Tabernacle (admission 2/4d to 5/-). Fairs, bazaars and regular voluntary contributions from the weekly pay-packets from the people of the district helped to swell the fund for the hospital. The first sod was cut in February 1923 on Telegraph Field which had been used as a semaphore station during the Napoleonic wars. The excavations, levelling of the site and laying down of the foundations were carried out as an Unemployment Relief Scheme. In July 1925 the Duke of Connaught laid the Foundation Stone. The hospital was opened on 2 November 1927 by HRH The Duke of York accompanied by the Duchess of York (later to become George Vl and Queen Elizabeth) in memory of those killed in World War One. In 1928 when George V visited the hospital he stated "This is the best equipped and most beautiful hospital I have ever seen." The King planted a cedar tree on the lawn in front of the hospital.

At the heart of the hospital was the Hall of Remembrance - a small permanently lighted hall panelled in different coloured marbles from Derbyshire, Cornwall, Sicily, Norway, Denmark and Italy. It housed a beautifully bound book in which were written 6,230 names of local people. These were mainly men who had died in the Great War but also included 100 people who had died in munition explosions at the Arsenal and 14 local people who had been killed by enemy air-raids. A second book was placed there after the second World War and contained the names of people from the district who had been killed during hostilities. From the day that each book was placed there, a page had been turned every morning. On either side of the books hang flags representing the Army, Navy, R.A.F. and British Merchant Service. Let into the marble floor was the word "Silence". Although it was not possible to raise the funds to add two more wings as originally planned, in order to raise the number of beds from 112 to 300, twenty-four thousand pounds was collected to build the Nurses' home. This was opened in 1939 by HRH The Duke of Kent.

During the Second World War the hospital provided back-up facilities for the Royal Herbert Hospital. In 1953 a new out-patient department was opened by HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, Patron of the hospital. In 1955 the x-ray department was completely refurbished and two new major units installed. In 1948 it was a general hospital but by 1965 it was specialising in surgery. In the early 1960's it was felt the facilities at the Memorial Hospital were too limited to deal with the growing number of domestic and particularly road casualties in the area and in 1969 a new Accident Centre was opened at the nearby Brook Hospital. The casualty department at the Memorial hospital closed and its acute wards were transferred to The Brook Hospital and St. Nicholas' Hospital, Plumstead. In 1986 the role of the Memorial Hospital was 'to provide comfortable and cheerful surroundings for nearly 100 elderly ladies'. Facilities included a Day House built in 1975 for pastimes and therapy work. Saint Nicholas Chapel was opened in 1986 on the closure of Saint Nicholas Hospital. The Chapel's 'Golden Window' was transferred from Goldie Leigh Hospital and fittings were brought over from Saint Nicholas Hospital.

The Memorial Homes later became part of Oxleas NHS Trust. In 2004 the Trust, based at Pinewood House, Pinewood Place, Dartford, Kent DA2 7WG, ran: - General mental health services, for adults and older people, in the boroughs of Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich; Child and adolescent mental health services in Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich; Forensic psychiatry and challenging behaviour services for the boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lewisham and North Southwark; Learning disability services in the boroughs of Bexley and Greenwich.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Woolwich Memorial Hospital including Board of Management minutes and papers, 1926-1948; general Committee minutes, 1918-1956; annual reports, 1912-1947; Memorandum and Articles of Association, 1913; rules and bye-laws, 1914; plan of the hospital mortuary, 1927; midwives registers of cases, 1945-1975; scrapbook containing notices concerning building and opening of hospital and newspaper cuttings, 1924-1931 and colour prospect of Hospital by architects, Messrs W A Pite and Son and Fairweather, 1921.

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), Chaplain's Records (G), 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: Depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Allied Materials

Related material:

For related records see:;Woolwich Group Hospital Management Committee (catalogue reference: H18);Woolwich Group Management Committee and Area Health Authority (catalogue reference: H44);Saint Nicholas' Hospital, Plumstead (catalogue reference: H20/NIC).

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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