Dr. Nathaniel Heckford (1842–1871) was a paediatrician in Victorian London, who founded the East London Hospital for Children. He met his future wife, Sarah Goff, during the 1866 cholera epidemic in Wapping, where he first determined a need for a children's hospital in East London. Heckford himself died of consumption at the age of 29.
The hospital started in 1868 in a warehouse in Ratcliffe, and moved after Heckford's death to Glamis Road, Shadwell. It was the first London hospital for children under two years of age. It was described in some detail by Charles Dickens in a piece called 'A Small Star in the East', published in The Uncommercial Traveller. The name of the hospital was changed to the Princess Elizabeth of York Hospital for Children in 1932, and later became part of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children in 1942. It was closed in 1963.
Heckford Street, off the east end of The Highway, commemorates Dr. Heckford. Created in the early 21st century, it is a small business park, mostly occupied by electrical and building trades.
- "East London Hospital for Children" by V.A.J. Swain (PDF file—contains artist's rendering of the East London Hospital around 1900)
- Portrait of Dr. Heckford
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