Metropolitan Free Hospital

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The Metropolitan Free Hospital was a London hospital, founded in 1836 and based for most of its existence in Kingsland Road, Hackney. It became part of the NHS in 1948, and closed in 1977, with its residual functions transferring to Barts Hospital.

Early years[edit]

The hospital was founded on a charitable basis to provide medical treatment for the destitute. Its mission was ‘to grant immediate relief to the sick poor of every nation and class whatever may be their diseases, on presenting themselves to the charity without letter of recommendation; such letters being always procured with difficulty and often after dangerous delay’. [1] It was based initially at 29 Carey Street, near Lincoln’s Inn, previously the home of the silversmith Richard Cooke. [2] Among the hospital's founding governors was Joseph Fry, son of Elizabeth Fry. [3] In 1843, Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge sponsored its first inpatient beds. [4]

In 1850, the hospital moved to 8 Devonshire Square, Bishopsgate, and soon after began to treat inpatients. However, in the 1870s, the Devonshire Square site was wanted by the Great Eastern Railway Company to extend their London terminus, Liverpool Street Station. The hospital sold its premises to the railway for £8,500 in 1876. It moved to 81 Commercial Street, Spitalfields for a decade, before finding a permanent home on the Kingsland Road.

Kingsland Road[edit]

The hospital operated from a series of buildings on Kingsland Road from 1885, while a dedicated building was constructed 1885-86. Under its new governor, Sir Edmund Hay Currie, it began to charge a small subscription, and so dropped the word ‘Free’ from its title. As the Metropolitan Hospital, it formed a partnership with Anglican nursing order, the Order of All Saints.

In 1902 King Edward VII became its patron. Other sponsors included Lord Howard de Walden, Lionel de Rothschild, Anthony de Rothschild and the King of Afghanistan.

The hospital developed specialist services, including a dedicated ward for Jewish patients, and expertise in treating tuberculosis. [5] In 1948 the Metropolitan Hospital became part of the National Health Service.

The hospital closed in 1977. As part of the City and Hackney Health District its services were taken on by Barts Hospital. Its former building can still be seen at 359 Kingsland Road, Dalston. [6]