The Zachary Merton Ward, The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital

I don’t often get to explore much these days, so it was nice to get out for the day down south. A leisurely explore around Stanmore Hospital was the main reason for heading down the M1. The abandoned building which resides right in the middle of the main hospital is easy to get to, and on the day fairly easy to get into on this occasion. Low light conditions inside the location and the abundance of wrecked equipment made images quite difficult to portray in a favorable light.

The hospital opened in 1922 after the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital on London’s Portland Street decided to open a second site (referred to as the ‘Country Branch’ rather than the ‘Town Branch’ in London), the at-the-time vacant Mary Wardell Convalescent Home was chosen as a suitable location. By 1923 around 100 patients were housed at Stanmore, mostly suffering long cases of Tuberculosis so requiring, such as the medical thought at the time, long periods of convalescence in the fresh open air. The hospital expanded its services in the following decades and grew into a large institution in its own right. In the present day, it’s a large, modern facility undergoing a huge amount of redevelopment, a lot of the older buildings have been demolished or renovated but there are a few yet to meet the chopping block. One of them is the Zachary Merton Building, a convalescent ward that opened in 1936 with 44 beds. It was originally only called the Convalescent Ward however in 1961 was renamed the Zachary Merton Ward, in honour of the trust by the same name. In the late 1970s, the kitchens and offices of the building were adapted for use by the Scoliosis Unit. In 1982 the hospital came under the control of the Bloomsbury Health Authority following a major NHS reorganisation. Up until this point children, following operations, had been ferried from the main site to the Zachary Merton Ward by a towed ambulance, however when the rear axle of the last operational ambulance broke, Bloomsbury Health Authority refused to pay for a repair or replacement and following that, the Zachary Merton Ward closed.

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