Wood Green Cottage Hospital 1895


Clearance of thousands of houses during the redevelopment of London in the 1890s forced the working classes to move out to the suburbs such as Wood Green. It was for these reasons that Edwards said that he ‘cheerfully undertook to provide a hospital’ at Wood Green. Accidents and ailments occurred wherever people lived and it was essential that a hospital should be provided to meet their needs.
Whilst it was Passmore Edwards who laid the foundation stone, in August 1894, it was Eleanor’s turn to take the silver key and declare the hospital open the following June.
Designed by Charles Bell and built on land purchased from the Church Commissioners the hospital was a small brick and tile hung building with accommodation for four men and four women patients and included an operating theatre, convalescent rooms and staff accommodation. As the population expanded so did the hospital, having 25 beds by 1904 and 52 from 1922. Plans to rebuild were put on hold by the Second World War although the hospital was renamed the Wood Green and Southgate Hospital. After the war, with the coming of the welfare state, the hospital was again extended to 73 beds by 1973.
Miss Elizabeth Martin was typical of the nursing profession of her day. Trained at Leeds Infirmary and first appointed Sister at the Northern Counties Hospital, Bury, Miss Martin served her country during the Great War as Sister and finally Assistant Matron, seeing service in Croatia and Italy, for which she was awarded the Royal Red Cross. In 1920 she was appointed as Matron to the Passmore Edwards Cottage Hospital in Wood Green, where she remained for the rest of her life. Matron Elizabeth Martin collapsed and died whilst on duty at the hospital on 17 November 1948.

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