A workhouse was built on the site of Lewisham hospital as early as 1612 and the present hospital has its origins in the replacement workhouse built in 1817.
‘This workhouse is situated in the centre of the picturesque village of Lewisham, five miles south-east of London. It is a three-storied brick building of three blocks, and was erected in 1817. The centre has a south aspect, while the front of the house looks east ; the parallel wing being in the rear, with a west face.’
When it was enlarged in 1836 it included 4 cholera wards. An 1865 Lancet report shows that the workhouse was essentially functioning as a hospital at that time with 7 ‘sick wards’ and 4 ‘infection wards’ with a total of 94 beds. A separate Infirmary was built in 1892 and this building now houses the pathology department.
During the First World War most of the workhouse residents were relocated as the Infirmary became Lewisham Military Hospital. The workhouse continued to function until 1929
In World War 2 the hospital was hit by a V-1 flying bomb which destroyed 2 wards and killed a nurse.
After the National Health Service was founded in 1948 the hospital continued to expand over the decades with outpatients, a special care baby unit and other wards opened.
In 1968 the Intensive Care Unit was opened – the first district general hospital in England to have one.
In 2007 the Riverside building was opened by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It was the first major NHS building to generate some of its own power using photovoltaic panels installed on the roof.
Lewisham hospital has been a part of borough life for centuries and has trained many health professionals and served the community well.
‘The main aim of the nursing sisters I worked with during my training at lewisham hospital was to provide excellent nursing care to enable patients to make the best possible recovery.It has stood me in good stead for my career as a nurse’
Barbara Bowman Student Nurse Lewisham Hospital 1983
Family Nurse Kathy Cruise is carrying out some research
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