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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): H59/SS
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1934-1972
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.51 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Saint Stephen's Hospital


Administrative/Biographical history:

Saint Stephen's Hospital opened on the 20 February 1878 as Saint George's Union Infirmary, Chelsea. It stood next to and was associated with Saint George's Union Workhouse or the Little Chelsea Workhouse built in the 1850's. The foundation stone of the Infirmary was laid in 1876 and the cost of the building work was one hundred and ten thousand pounds and the architect was Mr E.T. Hall.

In 1878 when the Infirmary opened there was some discussion of the type of patient it was to treat. There was pressure to take lunatics, venereal cases and lying-in women. Eventually all these types of cases were taken. The infirmary was to serve the whole community, but most patients came from the area covered by the Union. In 1913 the Saint George's Union merged with the neighbouring Westminster and Strand Unions to form the City of Westminster Board of Guardians. All hospital cases within the new Union were concentrated on the newly named Fulham Road Infirmary. By 1918 a VD department had been established to meet the growing number of patients and 1920 saw the provision of the Infirmary's first operating theatre.

In 1924/5 the Infirmary was renamed Saint Stephen's Hospital. There was some controversy over the name change and what the Infirmary was to be called. The original proposal had been to change the name from 'The Fulham Road Infirmary' to 'The City of Westminster Hospital'. However Westminster Hospital felt this was liable to cause confusion due to the similarity of the names and took legal action to prevent the change. At first the Guardians of the City of Westminster Union rejected the opposition, but after a few weeks it was obvious that the similarities between the two names would cause confusion and difficulties. The Infirmary was then renamed Saint Stephen's in 1925. On 1 April 1930 the administration of the Hospital passed into the hands of the London County Council. Under the LondonCounty Council the area patients were drawn from was widened and it was realised that the hospital was under-equipped for its new role as a general hospital. There were no outpatient facilities, no x-ray department and no casualty department. In 1934 proposals were made to enlarge the x-ray and massage departments and build a new A&E department in the old reception site. The new department was completed in 1937.

The hospital sustained bomb damage in both 1940 and 1941, but despite extensive structural damage and the loss of life of both nursing staff and patients it remained open for the remainder of the Second World War. Some patients were evacuated to other hospitals from the most heavily damaged blocks. The old workhouse accommodation was underused during this period and was converted into accommodation for refugees fleeing the conditions in Europe.

In 1948 Saint Stephen's became part of the National Health Service under the South West Metropolitan Hospital Board. Saint Stephens was administered by the Chelsea Group Hospital Management Committee with Saint Luke's Hospital, the Cheyne Hospital for Children and Westminster Chest Clinic. The Princess Beatrice Hospital was added in 1950 and Saint Mary Abbots and the Westminster Hospital in 1960, when the Group was reformed as Chelsea and Kensington Hospital Management Committee.

New operating facilities were opened in 1950 by the Minister of Health, Iain McLeod, but the hospital was still in need of major capital investment. The 1960 saw a period of rebuilding undertaken. The hospital plan was approved in 1962 and in 1965 new outpatients and A&E departments were opened. 1972 saw the opening of a new ward block. The Hospital Management Committee rationalised acute care within the group, the Princess Beatrice and Saint Mary Abbots were scaled down and acute services were centred on Saint Stephen's.

With NHS reorganisation in 1974 Saint Stephen's became part of the south district of the Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster Area Health Authority and the North West Thames Regional Health Authority, with Saint Mary Abbots, the Princess Beatrice and Cheyne Centre and the Westminster Hospital. In 1982 the 90 area health authorities were replaced with 192 district health authorities. In west London the Victoria Heath Authority was created, which administered the Westminster, Westminster Children's, Saint Stephen's, Saint Mary Abbots, All Saints and the Gordon Hospitals. In April 1985, Riverside District Health Authority was created as part of the North West Thames Region. It merged Victoria Health Authority and Hammersmith and Fulham Health Authority. A district management team was responsible for Westminster, Westminster Children's, Saint Stephen's, West London Hospitals and two mental health hospitals, Horton and Banstead.

By the summer of 1987 the long-term strategy was to close Westminster Hospital, Saint Stephen's, Westminster Children's, Saint Mary Abbots and the West London Hospital. The plan was to demolish Saint Stephen's and build the new Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on the same site on Fulham Road. A two-year consultation process followed. In 1989 Saint Stephen's closed and patients and staff moved to Westminster Hospital while the Chelsea and Westminster was being built. In May 1993 the Westminster Hospital closed and moved into the new building at 369 Fulham Road, occupying the site of the old Saint Stephen's Hospital. Staff and services were brought together from five major hospitals: the Westminster, Westminster Children's, West London, Saint Mary Abbots and Saint Stephen's. In April 1994 Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Trust was established, and is based at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Saint Stephen's Hospital, Chelsea, including Medical Staff Committee minutes, 1966-1971; Medical Superintendent's Reports, 1946-1949; plans of the Hospital and of the Westminster Institution, 1934; admission and discharge registers, 1934-1962; registers of deaths, 1950-1960 and a booklet published on the opening of a new surgical block, 1972.

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 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:

ACC/2742, ACC/3440

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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