For Boadicea: The Belgrave Hospital for Children

Browse the estate agents around SE11 and you’ll soon find adverts for smallish flats in Belgrave House. At 1 Clapham Road, it’s handy for the tube at the Oval, and even handier  for St Mark’s if you are a churchgoer. Pretty well placed for fans of Surrey County Cricket Club and the England team as well.

It’s a big imposing building with a high gable, mullioned windows, and it’s made of red brick with mosaics around the entrance. Even if you didn’t know the names Charles Holden or Percy Adams, you’d soon realise that the architects were influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and no surprise to find the building is Grade ll listed.

Like an increasing number of residential  buildings around London it had an earlier use. It was only converted to flats after several years of neglect, and a brief interlude as the Belgrave Homeless Project. High up on the walls are the words Belgrave Hospital for Children Supported by Voluntary Contributions.

The hospital closed in 1985 when a new Children’s Hospital, supported by the Variety Club, opened at King’s College Hospital at Denmark Hill. The Belgrave had been amalgamated with King’s since the introduction of the National Health Service after the Second World War.

It was founded in 1866, funded by charitable donations as was the practice in those times. At the start of the twentieth century the new hospital was designed. It was in the form of a cross, with the different wings linked by corridors and bridges, so that in the event of an outbreak of infectious disease the wings could be easily isolated, and facilities included an Artificial Sunlight Treatment Room to promote good health.

After it closed there were various plans plans for its use, including students’ residence and AIDS hospice. But in 1994 as the gentrification of Clapham spread up even as far as the Oval, it was converted into small flats aimed at first time buyers looking for a home in south London.

Next time I’m down there I’ll take a photograph for you. Meanwhile, here’s one from the archives:

Author: Isobel

I like animals, colour, the Thames, reading, cooking, writing, eating, walking. I don't like bullies, butchers' shops, crowded public transport, Nigel Farage.

18 thoughts on “For Boadicea: The Belgrave Hospital for Children”

  1. Very interesting.
    The history of children’s nursing is an interesting tale as well: with many medics not believing babies and small children could feel pain, and that having parents to visit children in hospital was not to be advised as it upset the child too much whe the parent went home.
    The myth of children not feeling pain continues in some cultures: circumcision without anaesthetic still being practised in some places.

  2. I&C,

    What a stunning piece of architecture.

    A swift google tells me I could rent a 2 bed flat there for £480 pw!!!!!

    Thats 2000 notes per calendar month near as damn it for a shoe box?

    I like it, but not that much thanks, but no thanks.

  3. Isobel
    Forgive the intrusion but I have a question for Ferret: I’m just back from North Yorkshire, are you still an ‘untapped’ region of the world?

  4. Isobel
    I tried to send a blog for you from youtube of a cat playing on an iPad, has had over a million hits, all I eneded up with was code, sorry.

  5. Hello Isobel, I’ve inserted a ‘more’ function for you, you can familiarize yourself with it in the FAQ’s, it reduces the space taken on the front page and encourages your reader to this page and to perhaps leave a comment.

    If you edit your post you will be able to see what I’ve done.

  6. I&C,

    You sound so very matter of fact about it but…

    I could buy my 3 bedroom detached home where I am now, of which I am very proud, 3 times over and still have change for an orangery and spanking new kitchen.

  7. Thank you Isobel. I remember the place well. It was the first time I ever shouted at a doctor!

    I was always being given iron pills like they were Smarties – eight a day on this occasion. My fourteen month old daughter found them in a cupboard and obviously thought they were Smarties and had eaten about half the box when I found her.

    I picked her up and ran to that hospital – it was at the most five minutes away. It took over two hours for the hospital to do anything. When they finally took her from me, a doctor took me aside and told me all the dreadful things that could happen from overdosing on iron – I got the lecture in spades. But, when he got to the bit about how she could end up brain-damaged if she wasn’t treated quickly enough – I hit the roof. I had got her there within fifteen minutes – and they had, as far as I was concerned, pfaffed around for over two hours? The lecture ended abruptly at that point…

    Nonetheless, I’m eternally grateful that the hospital was there – with no telephone at home (2 year waiting list at that time) I don’t know quite what I would have done.

  8. Ferret – you can thank your friend Mrs T for the horrendous rental prices. When I lived in that area I was paying £4. 10s.0d a week for a mansion flat, and that was double what anyone else in the block was paying.

  9. Ferret, I don’t know where you live. Should I?
    But this is a comparatively cheap part of London.
    I bought my flat years ago, I don’t know how anyone does now, and how they have any change left after paying rent. No wonder we’re a society hooked on debt! Mind you we’re also a society hooked on consumption.

  10. Bo, glad you remember it. Hope you enjoyed reading this and it didn’t get the adrenalin pumping too much.
    I find it interesting how many hospitals there were for children.

  11. isobelandcat :

    I find it interesting how many hospitals there were for children.

    Not really surprising – childhood was the most dangerous time of life – one had to survive all those childhood ailments. I probably spent time in the Belgrave, I certainly was a constant inmate of St Thomas’s – whooping cough, measles, pneumonia and whatever else. I had to smile at Pseu’s comment that parents were not allowed to visit children in hospital – mine were – I was in and out so often that the hospital knew I wouldn’t make a fuss when they left!

  12. There are still hospitals for children, but quite a few closed down in the 80s. Then new children’s hospitals have opened. What was the children’s hospital at Tommy’s called?
    My sister had polio three weeks after I was born. My mother, an SRN, realised what it was but the doctor told her not to fuss, it was ‘flu. Mother demanded and got a second opinion. My sister, aged four, was not allowed to touch her parents for some weeks, had to stand a distance away from them when they visited.
    I still have never spent a night in hospital but was in and out of A&E with various accidents as a child.

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