We have chosen to celebrate 17 September 1920 as the ‘birth day’ of West Middlesex, as it was on this day that the hospital was officially named ‘West Middlesex Hospital’. However, the hospital has a long and rich history extending far into the past – the earliest map showing the hospital grounds is dated 1635, and during the Great Plague of the 17th century, patients were cared for on site in a small isolation hospital by the Twickenham Road grounds.
In 1932, The Queen Mary Maternity Unit was opened in a ceremony led by Queen Mary. We still have her signature in our visitors’ book, along with the official programme of the opening, an original newspaper clipping, as well as her photographs which will all form part of our exhibition and timelines to preserve their historical importance.
During the Second World War, the hospital grounds suffered significant damage due to bombings. West Middlesex was used as a transit hospital during the Blitz, with locals injured in the bombing raids treated initially at West Middlesex, and then transferred to hospitals such as Reading. When the Guards’ Chapel at Knightsbridge was bombed, the wounded were bought to West Middlesex Hospital. During this time there was a great shortage of nursing accommodation, and the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland provided nurses with accommodation at nearby Syon House. One night in February 1944, 90 incendiaries caused 21 fires in eight of the wards. The Queen Mary Maternity Unit was heavily damaged and needed to be rebuilt. It was later officially reopened on 13 July 1960 by the Duchess of Gloucester. In 1977, the department was expanded again, and HRH Princess Anne came to open the new Special Care Baby Unit.
West Middlesex Hospital gained university status in 1979, and became ‘West Middlesex University Hospital’ as it is now known. The hospital gained an international reputation for teaching, where medical students and postgraduates could learn and gain valuable experience in all specialities. An extensive redevelopment of the site was ordered in 2001, with the works completed in 2003, including a surgical block, x-ray department, a critical care department, an integrated paediatric unit and an accident and emergency department. Hear how this was achieved from some of the staff members involved:
Hugh is a Consultant Urologist (semi-retired), who helped to steer the re-development of the former Workhouse infirmary buildings into the modern hospital we know today. Since then, he has advised on major hospital developments across the country. Listen to his memories of the old hospital from his first day in post, and reflections on how the monumental rebuilding project was achieved through teamwork and perseverance.
John de Braux
Chief Executive of West Middlesex Board of Directors from 1994 to 2001, John arrived with a specific job to fulfil: to steer the transformation from former Victorian Infirmary to the modern, innovative hospital it is today. An engineer and manager by profession, his key role was to empower the doctors, nurses and patients to create a team of expert decision-makers. His innovations in the hospital management systems were pioneering and have since been widely adopted.
In September 2015, West Middlesex University Hospital merged with Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, forming Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Over time, West Middlesex has constantly changed to meet the needs of the community, and will continue to change as the local population evolves.