Imperial College London

200 years of Charing Cross Hospital in ten pictures

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200 years of Charing Cross Hospital

Staff at Charing Cross Hospital in 1906

Charing Cross Hospital – one of Imperial’s key teaching hospitals – celebrates its 200th birthday this month.

Take a look back at ten images that tell the story of 200 years of one of London's most important medical and teaching institutions.

1818 – Charing Cross Hospital founded

Benjamin Golding
Benjamin Golding (Image: Anne Barrett/Imperial College London)

Charing Cross Hospital was founded by Dr Benjamin Golding in October 1818. The origins of the hospital can be traced to a meeting at Golding's home to discuss setting up a charitable institution to be known as the West London Infirmary, located near the Strand in Charing Cross. In 1823 the institution was established in Villiers Street, with room for just 12 beds, and in 1827 became known as Charing Cross Hospital.

1829 – Medical education recognised

Charing Cross Hospital in 19th century
Charing Cross Hospital in 19th century (Image: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust)

From the outset Golding had intended that the hospital would be used to train students on a formalised basis, offering tuition in every branch of medical study and 'to supply the want of a University, so far as medical education is concerned'. Golding drew up a medical education plan in 1822 and in 1829, Charing Cross Hospital Medical School was recognised by the newly founded University of London.

1866 – Period of growth

Charing Cross Hospital Medical School, Chandos Place building
Charing Cross Hospital Medical School, Chandos Place building (Image: Anne Barrett/Imperial College London)

Following a challenging time where the hospital faced competition from larger institutions opening in central London, Charing Cross Hospital experienced a period of growth. For the first time, it had professional nursing staff and the hospital was enlarged several times over the next few years. After a major rebuild in 1877 the hospital had doubled in size and in 1881 a separate medical school was created in Chandos Place.

1914 - Women admitted to the medical school for the first time

Edith Summerskill
Edith Summerskill in 1961 (Image: Anne Barrett/Imperial College London)

During the first World War the decision was taken to admit women medical students. Among the first of these was Edith (later Baroness) Summerkill, who became Labour M.P. for Fulham in 1938.

1914 - Military hospital

Marne casulaties at Charing Cross Hospital
Marne casualties at Charing Cross Hospital (Image: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust)

The hospital was situated in the heart of central London, very near to Charing Cross Station; a hustling transport hub. The station was an arrival point for thousands of injured servicemen coming back to Britain from the fronts so the hospital was well placed to receive them.

1973 - Last patient at Charing Cross in the Strand

The last patient at Charing Cross in the Strand
The last patient at Charing Cross in the Strand (Image: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust)

It was clear by 1930s that Charing Cross Hospital and its associated Medical School needed larger premises. Due to the Second World War, it wasn't until 1957 the Ministry of Health proposed a link with Fulham and West London Hospitals, with a plan to rebuild eventually on the site of the Fulham Hospital. The last patients were treated at the Strand site on 31 March 1973. 

1973 – Opening of Charing Cross Hospital’s new site at Fulham Palace Road

Queen Elizabeth II at the opening of the new hospital
Queen Elizabeth II at the opening of the new hospital (Image: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust)

The Queen officially opened Charing Cross Hospital’s new site at Fulham Palace Road in 1973. The cost of building the new hospital was £15m – a staggering amount at the time. Designed by Ralph Tubbs, it consisted of a 15 story building in the shape of a cross, along with several lower-level buildings. 

A new medical school building, the Reynolds Building, was opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, on 9 June 1976. It was named in honour of Dr Seymour Reynolds, who had been Dean of the Medical School from 1962 to 1976. In October 1976, the intake of students rose from 48 to 120.

1995 – Student life at the medical school 

United Hospitals Rugby Cup match
United Hospitals Rugby Cup match in 1975 (Image: Anne Barrett/Imperial College London)

Following a merger in 1984 with Westminster Hospital Medical School the school was known as Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School. The medical school’s students took part in a variety of sporting, social and theatrical activities. For a number of years, there was an intense rivalry for the United Hospitals Rugby Cup (the world’s older rugby competition, established in 1975) between Charing Cross/Westminster and St Mary’s.

1997 – Imperial College School of Medicine formed

Sir Christopher Edwards, former Head of Medical School
Sir Christopher Edwards, first Principal of Imperial College School of Medicine (Image: Imperial College London)

In 1992, the Tomlinson Report proposed that, where possible, London’s undergraduate medical school should come within a multi-faculty college of the university. This resulted in Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School becoming part of Imperial College London in August 1997.

2018 – Charing Cross today 

The new Anniversary Garden at Charing Cross
The new Anniversary Garden at Charing Cross (Image: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust)

As part of celebrating Charing Cross Hospital’s 200th birthday, Imperial Health Charity has created the Anniversary Garden. The garden is an outdoor space for patients with dementia and neurological conditions being cared for at the hospital.


Some of this text has been adapted from 'Imperial College School of Medicine: A History of the Future' by Anne Barrett, College Archivist.

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Reporters

Mr Al McCartney

Mr Al McCartney
Faculty of Medicine Centre

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 2961
Email: a.mccartney@imperial.ac.uk

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Ellyw Evans

Ellyw Evans
Faculty of Medicine Centre

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 5819
Email: ellyw.evans15@imperial.ac.uk

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