|Administrative / biographical background:
Bethnal Green Hospital was built by the Board of Guardians of the Parish of St. Matthew, Bethnal Green, and opened in March 1900; it was certified for 669 patients. The building was designed by Messrs. Giles, Gough and Trollope; the principal contractor was Thomas Rowbotham of Birmingham.. The buildings were 6 three-storey "pavilions", arranged in 2 groups of 3, either side of a central administrative block. The Western most "pavilion, on Cambridge Heath Road, contained the Board Room, Medical Superintendent's quarters, etc. The other five had, on each floor, one large ward (24 - 28 beds), a small one (10 - 12 beds), The central administrative block included facilities for the Nurse Training School, which was established from the beginning. The Hospital was opened on 5th March 1900 and the first patients were admitted on 17th April; the building was certified for 669 patients. The Hospital was planned principally with chronic sick in mind and this remained the case until the First World War. In March 1915 the Military Authorities took over the Hospital for the use of wounded soldiers and civilian patients were moved to St. George-in-the-East, or to the Workhouse in Waterloo Road. The Military Hospital was commanded by Colonel E. Hurry Fenwick, a Surgeon at the London Hospital from 1890 - 1910. During the military occupation a Pathological Laboratory was installed. It was not until February 1920 that all patients and staff were back in the Hospital. In the years 1920 - 1930 changes were made to provide a wider range of services for acute patients.
Under the Local Government Act, 1929, the Board of Guardians was dissolved and the Hospital passed to the London County Council, on 1st April 1930. When surveyed, in the previous August, the buildings were very much as they were in 1900, with the addition of one-storey casualty and receiving blocks on the North side, between Pavilions B and C, and D and E, built in 1927, and an operating theatre, not then completed, between blocks A and B; there was also a small X-ray Department. Its certified accommodation was then 650 and it had 551 inmates. The Workhouse was mainly occupied by chronic sick and infirm, under the charge of the Hospital's Medical Superintendent. The Hospital also had a Venereal Diseases unit, finally closed in 1952.
In 1930 it passed to the control of the London County Council; the Hospital came under the control of the L.C.C.'s Central Public Health Committee, which in 1934 became the Hospitals and Medical Services Committee. There was also a Bethnal Green Hospital Sub-Committee dealing with immediate day-to-day matters. During the 1939 - 1945 War, the Hospital suffered some minor bomb damage
With the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948 the Hospital became part of the Central Group (No. 5) within the North East Metropolitan Region. By now the number of beds was considerably reduced, being little more than 300; in 1953 there were 313 beds, with an average daily occupation rate of 260. The Group Pathology Laboratory was established at the Hospital in 1950. A Geriatric Unit was established in 1954. Central Group was dissolved in 1966 and absorbed into the new East London Group. In 1966 the Postgraduate Medical Education Centre was started. In 1972 the Obstetrics Department was closed and the Gynaecology Department closed in 1974.
After reorganisation in 1974 management of the Hospital passed to the City and East London Area Health Authority (Teaching); when this Authority was abolished, in 1982, control of the Hospital passed to the Tower Hamlets District Health Authority.. In 1977 - 1979 the Hospital's role was changed from acute to geriatric: in June 1978 the surgical beds were closed; the remaining 40 medical beds were finally closed in August. The hospital closed in 1990 when patients and staff transferred to the the newly built Bancroft Unit for the Care of the Elderly at the Royal London Hospital (Mile End).