By H Dominic W Stiles, on 28 August 2015
This year the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital is celebrating 140 years in Gray’s Inn Road on this site. The Central London Throat Nose and Ear Hospital first opened in 1874, in Manchester Street, now Argyle Street, Kings Cross. It was an offshoot of Golden Square’s Hospital for Diseases of the Throat, which had been founded in 1862 by Sir Morell Mackenzie but had gone into a decline (Gould, 1998 p.10). Some of the people behind the new hospital were the otolaryngologist Lennox Browne, his friend Captain Alfred Hutton, the physician Llewellyn Thomas who was also from Golden Square, and the dentist George Wallis. Isaac Lennox Browne (1841-1902) was the son of the gynaecologist Isaac Baker Brown, who became unfortunately notorious. His son had a far more distinguished career however.
After only a year the number of patients necessitated a move and the hospital laid a new foundation stone at its present site on Gray’s Inn Road. The prominence of ‘throat’ in the title is indicative of Lennox Browne’s interest in the voice, and the foundation stone was laid by the famous opera singer Madame Patti and the building formally opened in 1876 (Yellon, p.38, as is the following). Even in those early days the hospital drew patients from across the country, a fact emphasized in the article from which these photographs came. The article was by Evan Yellon, the fighter against quacks who often signed himself ‘Surdus’, and came into contact with Dr. Crippen. Yellon tells us that in 1907, of 9,993 new patients admitted, no fewer than 1,860 from the country (ibid p.37). The following year there were 10,481 out-patients and 707 in-patients. I imagine that these figures come from annual reports. We unfortunately have none of those, as they were all sent to the London Metropolitan Archives where they, and related materials, may be consulted.
In 1893 the hospital purchased additional land adjacent, and various parts if the building were rebuilt or enlarged. a further expansion took place in 1906, when new wards were opened by Princess Louise. Below is the out-patients department in 1909.
In 1909 the Chairman was still George Wallis, the Patron was the Duke of Connaught, and the Vice-President was Captain Hutton. One of the surgeons at that time was James Dundas-Grant. The service was free to those with no money, which perhaps explains the very high number of patients, however those with money were expected to contribute to the cost. Yellon tells us that since the hospital was founded, it had treated 998,631 patients (ibid, p.40)! In 1909,
3,067 out-patients were sent by medical practitioners, and 392 in-patients. The medical staff paid a total of 2,337 visits to the Hospital, involving 4,646 hours of their time. 681 operations were undertaken and performed in the out-patient department. 419 medical practitioners from all parts of the world visited the Hospital to witness the practice of the medical staff, while 41 ladies and gentlemen enrolled themselves as post-graduate students of the Hospital. These figures should shew clearly the wide extent of the work being done. The Hospital is entirely supported by voluntary contributions, and it (in common with other Ear Hospitals) has no grant from King Edward’s Hospital Fund; at the moment funds are very badly needed to enable the Committee to extend the work, and for the upkeep and necessary extension of the present buildings. (ibid, p.40)
The last view appears to be looking east. Compare this shot taken from the library window – it is not easy to be sure as some buildings have of course gone and others have been built. See the Lost Hospitals website for some of the older buildings that were or are part of this hospital. Click on images for larger size.
Gould, Glenice, A History of the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital 1874-1982, Journal of laryngology and Otology Supplement 22, April 1998
Yellon, Evan, Special Hospitals for the Deaf, The Central London Ear and Throat Hospital, The Albion Magazine, Vol.2 no.2 p.37-40, Aug-Sep 1909