AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): H33/RN
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Date(s): 1885-1991
Level of description: subfonds
View parent record
Extent: 24.82 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Royal Northern Hospital


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Royal Northern Hospital opened as the Great Northern Hospital on 30 June 1856. Its founder was Sherard Freeman Statham, an assistant surgeon at University College Hospital, and he opened the hospital in York Road, King's Cross where it served workers on the King's Cross and Euston Railways.

The arrival of the Metropolitan Railway Company in 1862 necessitated a move for the hospital. The outpatients were moved to a house in Pentonville Road, while the in-patients were accommodated at the Spinal Hospital in Great Portland Street. At this time the Spinal Hospital amalgamated with the Great Northern Hospital and became its orthopaedic department. In 1864 the in-patients moved into a newly acquired building in Caledonian Road. During 1867 the Hospital expanded into more houses in the Caledonian Road area but purpose-built premises were still needed.

Due to increasing need for another hospital in the area, a Central Hospital for North London had been proposed. It amalgamated with the Great Northern Hospital in 1884, and after a competition to design its premises, the Great Northern Central Hospital moved to Holloway Road in 1888. The outpatients joined them from Pentonville Road in April, and the new hospital was officially opened in July.

Expansion continued, due to the pressure of numbers, and thanks mainly to the hospital's Ladies Association. The Association was officially founded in 1869 but had been active for several years before that. Its aim was to aid and befriend patients and servants on discharge and to brighten the lives of the in-patients; it also helped the hospital financially. The Ladies Association Building Fund was set up in 1890 and remained active until the new block was complete in 1894. Also in 1894 the hospital opened wards for paying patients, which encountered a great deal of hostility from local doctors.

In 1895 the Great Northern Central Hospital was formally recognised as a place of study for fifth year medical students by the University of London and the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons. A grant was awarded to the hospital in 1898 by the Prince of Wales (later the King Edward) Hospital Fund for London.

A charter of incorporation was granted to the hospital in 1900, under the title of "The President, Vice-President and Governors of the Great Northern Central Hospital". All hospital property and land was thereafter vested in the Corporation, not the trustees as before. In 1907 Mr Francis Reckitt donated the money for a convalescent home, to be attached to the hospital. A suitable site was found in Clacton-on-Sea and the 'Reckitt Convalescent Home of the Great Northern Central Hospital' was opened in July 1909. The home was managed by a special committee, appointed by the management committee of the hospital.

A Home of Recovery at Earlsmead, Hornsey Lane, was donated to the hospital in May 1918, by Mr E.G. Harrop. The loan of the home, however, was only temporary and in 1919 the home moved to Summerlee, Fortis Green. Again the loan of the property expired and after negotiations by the Management Committee the hospital purchased Grovelands, a mansion in Southgate, where it opened a permanent home of recovery in February 1921. The home continued as part of the hospital until 1977 when it closed.

The name of the hospital had come into question in 1911 because of its cumbersome nature, and from that date all references to the hospital included "commonly called the Great Northern Hospital" after the title. Doubts about the hospital's name were brought up again in 1919 and in December of that year it was decided to alter the charter of incorporation to read 'Royal Northern Hospital'. The change of name was delayed until November 1921, after the hospital had amalgamated with the Royal Chest Hospital (H33/RCH). Financial difficulties had forced the chest hospital's council to opt for amalgamation with the Royal Northern in preference to closure. A supplementary charter recording the change of name was granted in June 1924.

The Royal Northern Hospital continued to expand. A School of Radiography - one of the first in the country - was founded in 1929, followed in the same year by a school of Housekeeping and Catering. In 1931 a new private block was opened, known as the Saint David's Wing, and in 1937, after a donation by Beechams Pills Limited, the Beechams Laboratories of Pathology, Bacteriology, Biochemistry and Pharmacy were also opened. 1937 also saw the opening of a fracture clinic, an occupational therapy centre and a radiotherapy department.

The introduction of the National Health Service in 1948 caused many and widespread changes in the management of the hospital. The Ladies Association and League ceased to exist at this time and the hospital was placed under the control of the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board. The Northern Group Hospital Management Committee was set up to administer the Royal Northern and seven other hospitals, which now formed the Northern Group of Hospitals. These other hospitals were the Northaw House Children's Hospital, Highlands Hospital, Wood Green and Southgate Hospital, and the City of London Maternity Hospital (H10/CLM). The Maternity Nursing Association (H33/MNA) was also affiliated to the group. Although the Reckitt Convalescent Home had become part of the North East Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board in 1948, patients were still sent there by the Royal Northern on account of the close association between the two institutions.

In 1963 the Northern Group Hospital Management Committee joined with the Archway Group to form the North London Hospital Management Committee, their headquarters remaining at the Royal Northern Hospital. After 1974 the Northern Group of Hospitals came under the North East Thames Regional Health Authority; on a local level the Royal Northern was administered by the Islington District Health Authority, while Grovelands Hospital came under the Enfield District Health Authority until its closure.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Royal Northern Hospital, 1885-1991, including minutes, annual reports, secretary's reports, register of seals and deeds, constitution and regulations; registers of road traffic accidents, births, deaths, operations, and maternity cases, case papers; matron's reports, registers of nurses and pupils, salaries and wages, correspondence, journals; ledgers and accounts; Plans of the Whittington Hospital; Chaplain's reports; Photographs; Ladies Association papers; Related documentation including histories, programmes, newspaper cuttings and publications.

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 Depositor

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

For further information see The Story of Grovelands by M. Eccleston (LMA library ref. 97.87 (GRO)).

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

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Placename Search

* To search for other records with similar placenames, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"