The North Middlesex is currently celebrating its first centenary, having provided health services to local people in Enfield since 1910.
It began as a workhouse that provided support to the poorest in the parishes of Edmonton, Enfield and Hornsey.
The first medical director was Mr Hammond. His claim to fame was that he took John Keats on as his apprentice in 1809 when Keats was just 14. John Keats had a fiery temper and after two years left his apprenticeship to be a doctor at Guy’s Hospital. Keats finally decided to give up medicine, moved to Italy and wrote some of the world’s greatest poems.
Due to increasing demand for medical help, the workhouse became a hospital called Edmonton Union Infirmary. It had 12 wards, each with 28 beds. The Infirmary had just two ambulances by 1912.
During World War 1, the infirmary became known as the Edmonton Military Hospital. It provided care to wounded soldiers and civilians and towards the end of the war it had nearly 2,000 beds to treat casualties. The hospital suffered extensive bomb damage during times of war but never ceased to provide treatment to those that needed it.
One of our most celebrated local residents, Charles Coward, was a sergeant major in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War. He smuggled himself into Auschwitz concentration camp and organised the escape of 400 prisoners. Charles Coward Ward is named in his honour.
He was the only English soldier to be accidentally awarded the Iron Cross by Germany. During one escape attempt he was injured. The Germans began to empty a barn and Charles hid in the hay. The Germans took injured Germans out of the barn and Charles laid on one of the stretchers. A high ranking German soldier gave Charles an Iron Cross, thinking he was a fellow-countryman.
The hospital was renamed the North Middlesex in 1920. It has been expanded since the war, with a new outpatients building opened by HRH Princess Margaret in 1960 and the development of the Tower Block in 1968.
The £123 million hospital development opened to patients in June 2010 and is the largest investment in the hospital’s history. It houses a new A&E department, critical care unit, outpatients department, imaging centre, eight operating theatres and five inpatient wards.