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Hospital history

Hospital history

The North Middlesex University Hospital has been serving the local community for over a century. Today's hospital site was open fields around the old Pymmes Brook until 1842 when the Union workhouse was built to serve the "poor" of Edmonton, Enfield and Hornsey. 

The first medical director of the workhouse was Mr Hammond. He took on 14-year-old local boy John Keats as an apprentice in 1809. Keats later became a doctor at Guy’s Hospital and found fame as a poet. 

The first hospital buildings were built on the present day site in 1909 and the Edmonton Infirmary was founded in 1910 under first medical officer Dr Spencer Mort and first matron, Annie Dowbiggin. The hospital had 12 wards – each with 28 beds – and two ambulances. Today the buildings have become the hospital's trust headquarters. The foundation stone is still visible in the façade. 

World War One 

During World War One, the infirmary became known as the Edmonton Military Hospital. It provided care for wounded soldiers and civilians and had 2,000 beds to treat casualties. During World War Two, the hospital was bombed causing extensive damage and loss of life but continued to provide treatment  for injured soldiers.  

New names

The hospital was renamed the North Middlesex Hospital in 1920. Our Charles Coward ward was named after a celebrated local resident. A sergeant major in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War, Coward smuggled himself into Auschwitz concentration camp and organised the escape of 400 prisoners. During another escape attempt he was injured, and, mistaken for a wounded German solider, received the Iron Cross for his bravery – the only British soldier to do so.  

The NHS 

Following the introduction of the NHS in 1948 the hospital expanded. An outpatients building was opened by HRH Princess Margaret in 1960 and the eight storey tower, which remains today, was built in 1968. The famous 1957 to 1967 TV soap ‘Emergency Ward 10’ was filmed at the hospital. 

In 2001 the hospital became the North Middlesex University Hospital in recognition of the high quality of education and training it provides for trainee doctors and nurses. 

Modernisation

In 2009 a major hospital development project resulted in the demolition of most of the former workhouse buildings. The £123 million investment - the biggest in the hospital's history – created a new main hospital building with a new A&E department, critical care unit, outpatients department, imaging centre, eight operating theatres and five inpatient wards. 

More recently still, as part of local NHS reorganisation in 2013, a further £80 million was spent modernising the medical, surgical, stroke and children’s services based in the hospital's tower and building a brand new maternity and neonatal unit. The new maternity unit which is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and two specialist maternity operating theatres, is among the best NHS maternity units in the country and the changes have enabled the hospital to increase the quality and quantity of care it provides and grow its workforce.    

Page last updated: September 2016