Hello, History: The London (Part 1)
In our Hello, History series, we turn back the clock to look at significant periods for the emergency services.
Laura Blott is an MA student in Public History at Royal Holloway, University of London.
She’s agreed to take us on a whistle-stop tour of The Royal London Hospital during the Second World War, detailing the impact of the Emergency Medical Service from 1939 to 1941.
The Royal London Hospital was founded in 1740 by a group of philanthropists led by a 22 year old surgeon, John Harrison. It was once Britain’s largest general hospital and has been located on its present site at Whitechapel Road, since 1757. The hospital has been a teaching hospital since 1785 and was granted a Royal title by Her Majesty the Queen in 1990 on the hospital’s two-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary.
‘The London’ proved its professionalism during the Second World War. Its staff successfully helped to organise the implementation of the Emergency Medical Service to the north and east of London. The London Hospital saw the mass evacuation of its patients and staff to sector hospitals outside of the city and into less targeted areas.
Throughout the period, however, the essential departments such as midwifery, accident and emergency as well as outpatients remained open at ‘The London’. Although the hospital suffered damage at the hands of the Luftwaffe during The Blitz, ‘The London’ still continued to its very best to provide excellent services for those in need. This was by no means an easy task.
Although the Emergency Medical Service had been established, it was difficult to know just how relieved the hospital would be and what challenges the Second World War would hurl at ‘The London’ and its staff.
Part 2 will be published next week!