Hampstead: Public Services

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9, Hampstead, Paddington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


T F T Baker. Diane K Bolton. Patricia E C Croot, 'Hampstead: Public Services', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9, Hampstead, Paddington, (London, 1989), pp. 138-145. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol9/pp138-145 [accessed 25 June 2024].

T F T Baker. Diane K Bolton. Patricia E C Croot. "Hampstead: Public Services", in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9, Hampstead, Paddington, (London, 1989) 138-145. British History Online, accessed June 25, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol9/pp138-145.

Baker, T F T. Bolton, Diane K. Croot, Patricia E C. "Hampstead: Public Services", A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9, Hampstead, Paddington, (London, 1989). 138-145. British History Online. Web. 25 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol9/pp138-145.


Springs on the heath and southern slopes of the parish provided a plentiful water supply and also formed the tributaries of several London rivers. (fn. 1) Ponds were made by the springs to gather the water, and wells were sunk to tap underground streams; in the later 19th century many large houses still had their own well or pump. (fn. 2) An Act of 1543 allowed water from the heath to be used to supply the City, leading later to the formation of the Hampstead Water Co., which, however, did not supply Hampstead itself. (fn. 3) In 1684 the earl of Gainsborough received permission to pipe water from springs in his manor of Hampstead to the City and suburbs. (fn. 4) The chalybeate spring given by his widow to the poor of Hampstead in 1698 (fn. 5) was probably thought unsuitable for this purpose because of its salts. When, however, the mineral waters were exploited, the vestry retained control over the springhead north-west of the well and in 1700 ordered water from the springhead to be piped into the town, apparently to raise money to relieve the poor rate rather than to meet any scarcity of water. Arrangements were made to lay pipes and contract with householders. In 1705 John Vincent proposed relaying the pipes on a different route, repairing the spring, and drawing on other springs; he was to have a lease of the water, for which he could charge the householders supplied. In the event the supply benefited only Vincent's brewery behind the King of Bohemia's Head and a few neighbouring houses, which were still supplied in 1824. (fn. 6)

Until the advent of piped water, public supplies for the town consisted principally of a pond or well, fed by a spring but perhaps not always in the same place. A pond was mentioned in 1274, (fn. 7) and both pond and well occurred in surnames and locations from the late 13th to the 15th century. (fn. 8) The Act of 1543 included protection for the springs, at the foot of the hill of the heath, which had been enclosed in brick for the use of the inhabitants. (fn. 9) Possibly it was the same town pond or well (fn. 10) that in 1680 stood at the junction of Heath and High streets, (fn. 11) most likely on the west side, and described as in Hampstead Street in 1619 and at the foot of Cloth Hill (later Holly Bush Hill) in 1669. (fn. 12) Tokens issued by Dorothy Rippin and Richard Bazell in 1669 and 1670, (fn. 13) may refer to this well. It was mentioned again in 1693 as the common well, (fn. 14) but in 1706 the town pond and land around it were granted out as manorial waste and the pond was filled in at the direction of the overseers. (fn. 15) It may have been filled in because of contamination from new building on Cloth Hill and because the Revd. Samuel Nalton left money in 1706 to provide a water pump on the heath for the poor and a fountain in the middle of the town. (fn. 16) In 1783 the town pump stood at the north end of the narrow part of High Street, (fn. 17) near the old pond. Another parish pond existed at the east end of Flask Walk in 1762, possibly fed by the spring that formed a tributary of the river Fleet which rose nearby. (fn. 18) It may have been the pond that the vestry ordered to be enlarged in 1787. (fn. 19) The Fleet tributary ran along the line of Willow Road to the lowest of the Hampstead ponds and fed watercress beds and wells along its length. A brick conduit and dipping-place, long out of use in 1870, stood near the site of Gayton Road. (fn. 20) Another old well called Skirret's well stood on East Heath in 1714, close to the site of the house at Squire's Mount. (fn. 21) Parish wells near Whitestone pond, at White Bear green, and at the southern end of High Street were used for watering the roads, but all were closed by 1872. (fn. 22)

Other districts had similar water supplies through conduits, pumps, or ponds, fed by springs, or could draw on tributaries of the Kilburn brook (Westbourne), some of which rose south of the manor house and parish church, others south of West End green feeding a stream which ran parallel to Kilburn High Road. (fn. 23) In 1543 the right was reserved to the lord to pipe water to the manor-place from springs west of the Hendon road. (fn. 24) Several wells served the western half of the parish, although recorded only in the 19th century. Blackett's well at Childs Hill was claimed by the vestry to be a public well in 1802. (fn. 25) Wells at North End and on West Heath near Childs Hill supplied laundries and in 1872 were still open, and conduits existed at Branch Hill, Wild Wood Lodge at North End, by West End House, and near Redington Road. (fn. 26)

Belsize was supplied by tributaries of the Tyburn, one rising near Belsize House, which it supplied by way of a pond, (fn. 27) another in Shepherd's fields, northwest of Rosslyn House, where the public spring was conduited and known by 1829 as Shepherd's well. (fn. 28) By 1801 pipes led from that well to a cistern at the bottom of the Grove, Rosslyn Hill, opposite Pond Street whose inhabitants were supplied from it. In 1808 the vestry tried to have other pipes removed, as water was being drawn off to Rosslyn House to the detriment of the public supply in the Grove, but the owner of Rosslyn House claimed that the deficiency was generally due to shortages at the spring. (fn. 29) In the mid 19th century the well served residents, principally laundresses, up to a mile away, using watercarriers. (fn. 30) By that time, however, piped supplies were arriving. Pipes from Camden Town were extended to the southernmost part of the parish in the 1830s and 1840s. In 1852 both the vestry and the board of guardians were seeking a better supply, by asking the local M.P. to secure the town's inclusion in a Bill for supplying Hendon and West End, and by approaching existing water companies. (fn. 31) In 1853 the New River Co. extended pipes from Highgate to the top of the town, with the vestry consenting in 1854 to a reservoir as long as it was not built on the site first chosen, by Jack Straw's Castle; it was built at Hampstead Grove in 1856. (fn. 32) The vestry tried unsuccessfully to get the charges for water modified in 1854, claiming that those borne by larger properties were discouraging wider use of piped supplies. (fn. 33) In 1866 the West Middlesex Water Co. obtained powers to serve parts of Hampstead, building reservoirs near Kidderpore Hall (in 1868) and near Fortune Green. By 1872 they provided a constant supply to the area between Kilburn High Road and West End, besides a small area east of Finchley Road. By 1884 the company supplied all the parish roughly west of Haverstock Hill and Fitzjohn's Avenue, while the New River served the remainder, though a constant supply was not available until later. (fn. 34)

Before the drainage system was constructed from 1859 onwards, Hampstead's sewerage was rudimentary, using cesspools which drained into the soil contaminating water supplies, or into streams and ditches suitable only for surface water. (fn. 35) As the town was near the top of a hill, drainage was not seen as a problem until in the 1840s, after cholera had heightened awareness, complaints were made about crowded alleys and courts, which in addition to receiving sewage were piled with refuse. (fn. 36) Open ditches around Kilburn and West End were also full of sewage. (fn. 37) Though Hampstead came within the jurisdiction of the commissioners of sewers for Holborn and Finsbury, they dealt chiefly with existing water-courses and had more pressing problems with the Fleet. In 1852 the vestry appointed a committee to discuss improvements with the Metropolitan Commissioners of Sewers, who had replaced the district commissioners; a short sewer was built in 1853-4 from South End Green to the Fleet before the M.B.W. came into being and built the metropolitan sewer system. (fn. 38)

Under the Metropolis Local Management Act, 1855, the vestry could raise money for building sewers; its surveyor in 1857 proposed to drain the area between North End and Pond Street, 665 a. requiring c. 7 miles of sewers. By 1872 the whole parish drained into the M.B.W.'s system, the eastern part into the high-level 'intercepting' sewer, the Kilburn area into the Ranelagh sewer; 11.5 miles of sewers had been constructed by the vestry, and another 11 miles at private expense. (fn. 39)

The vestry also introduced regular collection of household refuse; in 1854 it was recommended that a contractor be employed to collect from all householders once a week. The vestry later employed its own collectors and built a dust destructor on land which it bought in Scrubs Lane, near Willesden Junction (Hammersmith), where all the refuse was burnt. (fn. 40)

The parish constable was assisted by a watch of 12 men when apprehending a felon in 1673, (fn. 41) and the constable or headboroughs were to warn 6 men to watch with them in 1704 until further notice, possibly for the winter months. (fn. 42) In 1707 the constables complained that they had never had the shelter of a suitable watchhouse, and the justices ordered one to be built. (fn. 43) Expenses were paid in 1708 for surveying the watchhouse and in 1710 a room under the same roof as the watchhouse and cage was let to a poulterer until needed by the parish. (fn. 44) In 1748 the watchhouse was reported to be an obstruction to passengers and in disrepair, and a new one was to be built nearby. (fn. 45) Whether or not it was rebuilt, its site was again considered very inconvenient in 1764, (fn. 46) when it stood in the roadway in Heath Street near its junction with High Street. (fn. 47) By 1795 the watchhouse had been moved to the bottom of Flask Walk, (fn. 48) presumably the west end of the green, where it stood with its two dungeons in 1839 shortly before being demolished. (fn. 49)

The watch could not prevent highway robberies on the London road, where in 1720 armed patrols protected visitors to the Belsize House pleasure gardens. (fn. 50) By 1774 the number of robberies in and around Hampstead warranted a local Act for watching and lighting the town: commissioners were empowered to raise a rate and appoint foot and horse patrols, armed if necessary. (fn. 51) An association, established in 1789 to reward those who caught offenders against the property of the subscribers, was revived in 1805. (fn. 52) By 1828 the parish had regular day and night patrols and paid a superintendent, 17 watchmen, and 8 patrols; 17 watchboxes were provided. (fn. 53)

The establishment of the metropolitan police force brought residents a large bill for building the police stations and other expenses. An unsuccessful deputation told Sir Robert Peel that the force was both oppressively expensive and unnecessary because of the local Act and because the village was off the main thoroughfares. (fn. 54) Hampstead became part of S division and a police station was opened at no. 9 Holly Place, (fn. 55) moving in 1834 to the corner of Holly Hill and Heath Street. (fn. 56) It was replaced c. 1870 by a new station on Rosslyn Hill next to the Soldiers' Daughters' Home, (fn. 57) which in turn was replaced in 1913 by a new station and magistrates' court at the corner of Rosslyn Hill and Downshire Hill, (fn. 58) still in use in 1986. A station for West Hampstead and Kilburn was opened at no. 90 West End Lane in 1883, (fn. 59) being replaced in 1972 by one at no. 21 Fortune Green Road. (fn. 60)

The Local Act of 1774 allowed commissioners to levy a lighting rate for the town, which was not to exceed 1s. in the £ on property in lighted districts and 6d. elsewhere. (fn. 61) The oil lamps used were quite sparsely positioned, many larger houses still provided their own lights, (fn. 62) and the Act did not extend to Kilburn, which was unlit until 1849. (fn. 63) In 1823 the Imperial Gas Light & Coke Co. received permission to lay pipes; gas lamps were provided, beginning in High and Heath streets. (fn. 64) In 1853 Hampstead had 405 lamps, with a further 54 for the 2 miles of roads in the Kilburn area. (fn. 65) In 1872 Imperial Gas supplied 935 lamps and the Western Gas Light Co. 126 lamps. (fn. 66) The spread of building made it difficult to supply enough lamps, even in the 1880s; by that time there were nearly 2,000 lamps, supplied by the Gas Light & Coke Co. (fn. 67)

Private companies obtained Board of Trade orders for bringing electricity to the parish in 1883 and again in 1892, (fn. 68) but nothing was achieved owing to vestry opposition. The vestry, persuaded that it would be profitable to build and run its own electricity undertaking, opened a power station in Stone Yard, Lithos Road, in 1894, in order to supply both private consumers and the public street lamps. Though the scheme was very successful, particularly with private users, so much capital was needed for new generators in 1897 and for more cables that the parish rates received little benefit. (fn. 69) Street lamps were converted to electricity from 1909, starting with Adelaide and Upper Avenue roads. (fn. 70) The undertaking remained in the borough's control until nationalization. The power station was replaced with a new building opened in 1975. (fn. 71)

Two fire engines were provided by public subscription, but were in disrepair by 1753 because there was nowhere suitable to keep them. The parish officers agreed to take charge of the engines, which were to be lodged in Mr. Sibthorp's coach house, and the overseers of the poor paid for repairs by the maker, Mr. Broadbent, who had an agreement to maintain the engines for ten years. The equipment included copper branch pipes, 20 ft. of suction pipes, 160 ft. of forcing pipes, and 44 leather buckets. (fn. 72) The engine pond in Flask Walk, cleansed in 1757, may have been for the use of the fire engines. (fn. 73) By 1837 the cost of constant repairs exceeded the value of the two machines and doubts were raised about the legality of poor-rate money being spent on them. The vestry therefore asked the church trustees appointed under the 1827 Local Act to buy one new engine, house it, and defray expenses, as the Act empowered them to do (for the protection of the parish church); the old engines were to be sold and the proceeds given to the trustees. (fn. 74) The engine dated 1810 that was stored at Cannon Hall in 1898 (fn. 75) may have been the one bought by the trustees; it was kept in a shed in Church Row. (fn. 76) The trustees raised £200 initially and a further £200 in 1850, (fn. 77) but in 1856 the vestry took over responsibility for the engine. (fn. 78) In 1863, just prior to the formation of the London Fire Brigade by the M.B.W., the parish engine was in good repair and had one specially appointed keeper. (fn. 79) The Kilburn area was served by the Kilburn, Willesden, and St. John's Wood volunteer fire brigade, established after a fire at Shoot Up Hill in 1863, with its headquarters at Bridge Street, Kilburn. (fn. 80)

The M.B.W. opened a temporary fire station in a rented house in Belsize Avenue in 1869, and the permanent St. John's Wood station in 1870 near the corner of Adelaide and Finchley roads, its observation tower overlooking most of the parish. (fn. 81) Hampstead fire station, designed by George Vulliamy, was opened in 1874 at the corner of Holly Hill and Heath Street on the site of the former police station. (fn. 82) The two stations, both in A district, (fn. 83) covered the whole parish until 1901, when West Hampstead fire station, no. 325 West End Lane, was opened. (fn. 84) In 1915 Belsize station, in Lancaster Grove, was opened to replace the very cramped St. John's Wood station. (fn. 85) Hampstead station was closed in 1923, (fn. 86) and thereafter the parish was served by two stations once more, West Hampstead covering the north and west parts, and Belsize the south and east. (fn. 87)

Hampstead subscription library, founded in 1833, began free lending to working-class readers in 1887, after its move to Stanfield House, and in 1891 provided them with their own reading room. (fn. 88) In 1892, after the adoption of the Public Libraries Act, the vestry set up commissioners to provide libraries for other districts; they continued to manage the libraries until c. 1896, when the vestry took over their functions. (fn. 89)

The first public library to be opened was a temporary one at no. 48 Priory Road, Kilburn, in 1894, which included lending and reference libraries and reading room. It was superseded in 1902 by a purpose-built branch library in Cotleigh Road. (fn. 90) Belsize branch library, Antrim Road, was opened in 1897, with lending and reference sections and a magazine room, and was adapted as an open-access library in 1910. Structural defects led to closure in 1936 and the opening of a new building on the same site in 1937. (fn. 91)

The Central library, at the corner of Finchley and Arkwright roads, opened in 1897, was designed by A. S. Tayler as a two-storeyed building in domestic Tudor style. It contained a reference library, reading rooms, and lending library (opened in 1899), and the cost was covered by a gift from Sir Henry Harben. The reference library housed 8,000 volumes of Professor Henry Morley, bought by the vestry in 1896, and a local archive collection was begun by the purchase of a survey of 1680 of the heath. The site allowed room for additions: an extension of 1909 included a children's library, one of the first of its kind in the London area, with a separate entrance in Arkwright Road, and a small exhibition and lecture room; a further extension in 1926 provided a larger lending library and a lecture hall for 220. After severe damage in 1940 and 1945 the adjoining bombed sites were bought for future enlargement, but in 1964 the library closed. Its departments were transferred to the new Swiss Cottage library at no. 88 Avenue Road, an oval-planned building designed by Sir Basil Spence, which in 1986 also housed Camden L.B.'s local history collection and archives covering Hampstead and St. Pancras, besides its reference collection on philosophy and psychology. The old building subsequently became Camden Arts centre, administered by the Arkwright Arts trust with municipal support. (fn. 92)

West End, later West Hampstead, branch library was opened in 1901 at the corner of Westbere and Sarre roads, a single-storeyed building with lending, reference, and magazine rooms. The building was destroyed in 1940, and replaced by temporary services in the basement of the Methodist church in Mill Lane and by 1950 in adapted bank premises in Cholmeley Gardens. In 1954 a new library was built as part of a small housing development at the corner of Dennington Park Road and West End Lane. (fn. 93)

Heath branch library opened as Worsley Road branch in 1907 in the former school building. In 1931 a new library was opened in the grounds of Keats House to serve also as a museum for the Keats collection formed by Sir Charles Dilke and given to the borough in 1911. Keats House had been in the care of the borough from 1924, after it had been bought by public subscription, and the library was designed to blend with the style and scale of the house. In 1948 the partition between the lending library and reading room was removed and in 1986 part of the Keats memorial library was in Keats House. (fn. 94)

A sick relief club and self-supporting dispensary, formed by the Revd. T. Ainger and other leading parishioners, began in 1846 with 53 members. Benefited members, who had to be earning less than 25s. a week and not be receiving poor relief, paid a small weekly sum, while unbenefited members paid large contributions; the club was run by a committee of both groups. By the end of 1846 membership had increased to 332; it was 957 by 1851, when the name was changed to Hampstead Provident Dispensary. The dispensary used rooms in the New End workhouse, for which it paid £20 a year. In 1850 a site at New End was bought with money from the collection taken in 1849 in all Hampstead churches and chapels in thanksgiving for escape from cholera. After a further appeal in 1852, a three-storeyed building was opened on the site in 1853. In addition to the dispensary, it housed the soup kitchen which had been started c. 1844 at the workhouse to sell soup to the poor during two winter months. By the 1870s the dispensary also provided dental treatment. A branch for West Hampstead was opened at no. 33 Mill Lane before 1888. After the National Insurance Act, 1911, the dispensary gradually lost its importance and in 1948 it closed; the building, standing in 1986, was sold in 1950. (fn. 95)

Hampstead Health Institute was founded by Thomas Hancock Nunn in 1913 as a memorial to Edward VII, in a building at the corner of Kingsgate and Dynham roads, West Hampstead. St. George's hall, adjoining it, was built 1929-30. Nunn wanted to unite various social services in one centre, then a novel concept: the main object was prevention of disease through hygiene education, but by 1929 the institute also had pre-natal clinics, and dental, oral, ophthalmic, and infant welfare centres, in addition to a social club, becoming the first local community centre. After the N.H.S. introduced similar centres, the building became Kingsgate community centre, run by Camden council. (fn. 96)

The Metropolitan Asylums Board bought c. 8 a. of the Bartrams estate in 1868 as the site for the North-western smallpox and fever hospital (also known briefly as Hampstead hospital). (fn. 97) Because of a sudden epidemic of relapsing fever, temporary wooden and corrugated iron huts with 90 beds were opened early in 1870, as England's first state hospital. The hospital closed when the fever had subsided, but reopened at the end of 1870 for an outbreak of smallpox. The addition of a temporary building from the grounds of the London fever hospital, Islington, increased the number of beds to 450. Siting a hospital for infectious diseases in Hampstead aroused great opposition, especially from Haverstock Hill residents led by Sir Rowland Hill (d. 1879), whose property, Bartram House, adjoined the hospital. A select committee of the House of Commons supported the Metropolitan Asylums Board in 1875 but legal battles were settled out of court only in 1883, when the board agreed to buy Bartram House and 3 a. from Sir Rowland's son and move the hospital entrance from Haverstock Hill to Fleet Road. Bartram House was used as a nurses' home and committee rooms before being exchanged in 1901 for land belonging to Hampstead General hospital (below). A report in 1882 and a petition to parliament in 1884-5 finally caused the hospital to stop taking smallpox cases from 1885 and to become a fever hospital only. (fn. 98)

Work to turn the temporary buildings into a permanent hospital was started in 1876 (fn. 99) but was soon halted by the legal proceedings. In 1884 a surveyor suggested that the dilapidated buildings, six fever and two smallpox pavilions linked by a long corridor built c. 1878, with several ancillary buildings, almost all of wood, might be replaced. The acquisition of Sir Rowland's property, which included a field stretching to the houses on the southern edge of South End Green, permitted rebuilding in stages on a larger scale. (fn. 100) Five wards were built on the vacant land c. 1887, the original huts being replaced by 11 pavilions c. 1888 and 4 more later. (fn. 101) An administration and reception block was built 1893-5. (fn. 102) Some houses in Lawn Road near the junction with Fleet Road were bought in 1894 and made way for a new ambulance station, opened in 1897. (fn. 103) Additional buildings for isolation wards were built in 1913. (fn. 104) An eight-bed clinic for the treatment of cancer by radium was in use from 1928 until the hospital was transferred to the L.C.C. in 1930; at that date the hospital had 410 beds. (fn. 105) In 1948 it became the northwestern branch of the Royal Free teaching hospital group, with c. 275 beds. (fn. 106) Infectious cases were transferred to Coppetts Wood hospital, Hornsey. (fn. 107)

Plans to replace the Royal Free hospital, Gray's Inn Road (St. Pancras), with a new building on the site of the North-western fever hospital began in 1954 but only in 1968 did work begin on the building, which would replace the Royal Free group's many scattered units. The new teaching hospital, on a 15-a. site, was designed by Alexander Gray, and the main structure was a cruciform tower of 18 storeys. It was opened in 1974 with 871 beds and became fully operational in 1975. Additional work, including the demolition of Hampstead General, was completed c. 1978. (fn. 108)

Hampstead General hospital was founded in 1882 by Dr. W. Heath Strange as Hampstead Home Hospital and Nursing Institute in a house in Parliament Hill Road, taking paying patients only. In 1885, however, when funds were being raised, it was said to have treated 174 patients, mostly poor, and was designed for those who could not obtain care at home but did not want to go into a public hospital. Qualified doctors attended their own patients in the hospital. Adjoining houses were added and by 1888 it occupied nos. 2, 3, and 4 Parliament Hill Road; charges ranged from 7s. to 5 guineas a week. In 1894 the hospital had 29 beds, in 11 wards of which 8 were free; four fifths of those treated were outpatients. (fn. 109) Hampstead Jubilee fund, 1897, financed two beds for which Hampstead residents had priority. (fn. 110) It was felt that the district needed a general hospital, and in 1901 the site facing Hampstead Green was obtained and appeals were made. (fn. 111) The hospital exchanged with the fever hospital part of its land for Bartram House, which was demolished in 1902, and a new building, designed by Keith Downes Young, with 50 beds was opened on the site in 1905. (fn. 112) In 1907 it had 60 beds, of which 35 were in use, and treated 446 in-patients and 2,393 outpatients. (fn. 113) The same year another voluntary hospital, North West London, nos. 18-24 Kentish Town Road (St. Pancras), agreed to amalgamate with Hampstead General, keeping the Kentish Town building for out-patients. A new out-patients' department was opened at Bayham Street, Camden Town, in 1912. (fn. 114) Changes in administration and staffing brought complaints from the Hampstead division of the B.M.A., whose members' role in attending patients was replaced by consultants in the enlarged hospital. Local doctors, who had already protested at the transformation of the cottage hospital into a large general one, felt that a great metropolitan hospital had been created in an area where most of the population could pay for medical attendance rather than attend a hospital. (fn. 115) Extensions were made in 1929 with a new operating theatre, dispensary, and casualty department, and in 1936 with X-ray, massage, and pathology departments. (fn. 116) In 1945 the hospital had 86 general beds, 31 special beds, 21 pay beds, and 2 operating theatres, and registered 90,000 out-patient visits; there had been a waiting list of 200 in 1938. Amalgamation with Hampstead Children's and the North-western fever was suggested, to provide more beds for maternity and chronic sick and allow New End to be closed. (fn. 117) The plans were carried out by including Hampstead General in the Royal Free group in 1948 and the later removal to Hampstead of the Royal Free, which then replaced Hampstead General. Accordingly Hampstead General was demolished in 1975 and the site used for a car park and a small garden dedicated to Heath Strange. (fn. 118)

The workhouse and infirmary at New End became a military hospital during the First World War, and received such facilities as an X-ray unit and operating theatre. It was returned to the Hampstead guardians after the war and was thenceforth called New End hospital. In 1929 it was taken over by the L.C.C. and in 1938 was a general municipal hospital with 260 beds, including 26 for children and 19 maternity, and out-patients' and casualty departments. The premises were old and on a restricted site, but the maternity beds in particular were much needed. Management was taken over by the N.W. regional hospital board in 1948, and the X-ray and physiotherapy departments were enlarged. Thyroid surgery was developed from 1932, attracting foreign observers, and by 1955 the world's most modern radio-active iodine isotope unit had been developed in the basement. By 1958 it was under the Archway group hospital management committee, with 221 beds for acute cases. In 1968 the hospital was transferred to the Royal Free teaching hospital group. When the new Royal Free opened in Pond Street in 1974, New End, where a new geriatric unit had been opened in 1972, was left as a geriatric hospital, with 143 beds in 1978 and 127 in 1985. The desire to close it when facilities at Pond Street should be available, first expressed in 1945, was reiterated with the opening of the Royal Free, and in 1986 plans were being completed, amid much opposition. (fn. 119)

The North London (later Mount Vernon) Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest was founded in 1860 in Fitzroy Square (St. Pancras), but moved to an old house at Mount Vernon, Hampstead, in 1864, keeping an out-patients' clinic at no. 41 Fitzroy Square. Apart from two private beds, the hospital took only patients who could not pay for treatment. From 1898 it received grants from the later King Edward's Fund. A building, designed by T. Roger Smith in 17th-century French Renaissance style, was built at Mount Vernon; the western block with 34 beds was started in 1880 and the central block was opened in 1893, making a total of 80 beds, but only 60 were in use in 1898 owing to lack of funds. A temporary extension was built in 1900 and the eastern block was completed in 1903, making a total of 140 beds. Mount Vernon House was leased as a nurses' home. In 1904 a new Mount Vernon hospital was opened at Northwood, where by 1913 it was decided to concentrate its work. The Hampstead building was taken over by the Medical Research Council. (fn. 120)

Hampstead Children's hospital, Northcourt, no. 30 College Crescent, was founded in 1875 as the Hospital and Home for Incurable Children, and was probably the hospital at no. 2 Maida Vale (Marylebone) in 1892. The children were aged up to 16 years. It was incorporated in 1902 and by 1907 had moved to Northcourt. The number of beds was raised in 1910 from 45 to 56. From 1920, by which time some curable cases were taken, the name was changed to Northcourt hospital for sick children. The number of beds was reduced again to 45 by 1938. During the Second World War the hospital was temporarily closed but in 1948 it became part of the Royal Free group and the children were treated elsewhere; the building itself became the Royal Free's preliminary training school. (fn. 121)

St. Columba's hospital or home of peace was founded in 1885 as the Friedenheim hospital, after a meeting at the home of a Dr. Schofield, and largely at the expense of Frances Mary Davidson who became the honorary superintendent. It was intended for poor people in the last stages of acute disease and not chronic incurables, although their care did result in some unexpected recoveries. By 1904 a committee had been formed to run the home in place of Miss Davidson. King Edward's Fund agreed to make grants to the home from 1904 as its work relieved other hospitals. It opened first at no. 133 Mildmay Road, Islington, moving in 1892 to Sunnyside, no. 8 Upper Avenue Road (later no. 98 Avenue Road), Swiss Cottage. In 1915 the name was changed to St. Columba's. The home had 50 beds, but only c. 30 were in use in 1938 and 1953. In 1948 the home came under the Paddington group hospital management committee. It moved to the Elms, Spaniard's Road, 1957, where it had 35 beds, (fn. 122) but closed in 1981. (fn. 123)

Queen Mary's maternity home was founded by the queen to use the residue of funds from Queen Mary's Needlework Guild. The home, for the wives of servicemen, opened in 1919 in temporary premises at Cedar Lawn, North End Road, provided by Lord Leverhulme, who also gave the site for the permanent building at Upper Heath, formerly the Upper Flask inn. The home, with 16 beds, opened in 1922, and patients were charged according to their means. The queen made frequent visits, giving gifts to the staff and her own crochet-work for the cots. She also gave part of the cost of an additional ward and isolation section erected in 1929, bringing the number of beds to 25, and further extensions c. 1937 brought the number to 34 in 1938. In 1946, with demand increasing, the London hospital took over the home at the suggestion of the queen, and under the National Health Service Queen Mary's remained part of the London hospital group, with 38 beds. In 1972 the home was taken over by the Royal Free, which closed the maternity unit c. 1975. (fn. 124) In 1986 the building was used as a staff home and community health offices.

Marie Curie hospital, for women cancer patients and, exceptionally, staffed by women, was founded in 1929 at no. 2 Fitzjohn's Avenue, with 30 beds. After destruction in the Second World War, the hospital moved to no. 66 Fitzjohn's Avenue, formerly an annexe of Westminster hospital, where it had 50 beds. It closed in 1967 because the accommodation was unsuited to new developments in radiotherapy, and the work was transferred to Mount Vernon hospital, Northwood. The building was demolished in 1969. (fn. 125)

The Hill, a 60-room mansion with 8 a. near North End, was left by Lord Inverforth in 1956 to Manor House hospital, Golders Hill, and as Inverforth House became the women's section of the hospital, with c. 100 beds, and a home for 60-70 nursing staff. (fn. 126)

The Tavistock clinic moved in 1967 to a purposebuilt five-storeyed building at the corner of Belsize Lane and Fitzjohn's Avenue, gathering together departments from Devonshire and Beaumont streets (Marylebone) and elsewhere. The building also housed the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations and the Child Guidance Training Centre, and provided training in psychology and psychiatry. The Young People's Consultation Centre moved there from King's College Road, Swiss Cottage, where it had opened in 1962. (fn. 127)

Hampstead burial board, recently set up at the instigation of the medical officer of health, bought 20 a. at Fortune Green in 1874 to form Hampstead cemetery; c. 11 a. were consecrated in 1876, the remainder was left for non-Anglicans, and a chapel for each portion, designed by Charles Bell in Gothic style, straddled the division. A mortuary was also built there. Another 5 a. were added in 1901 and part was consecrated in 1906. The burial board was reincorporated into the vestry in 1896. (fn. 128) In 1889 Chesnut [sic] House, New End, was bought as the site for a mortuary for the town, the single-storeyed building being built in 1890. It remained in use until c. 1968 and later became New End theatre. (fn. 129)

The first baths and washhouses for the public were built by the Wells and Campden charity: 14 private baths, a laundry, and a drying-room were opened in Palmerston Road, Kilburn, in 1887, and 9 baths, a laundry, and drying-room in Flask Walk in 1888. (fn. 130) Though said to be very much appreciated by the poor, they incurred such financial loss that in 1906 the charity threatened to close them. After much argument over the price and a public inquiry, the council leased the baths in 1908 at a nominal rent. (fn. 131) The washhouses continued in use until the 1970s: Palmerston Road baths were closed in 1976 and demolished as part of the rebuilding of the area, and Flask Walk baths were closed in 1978 and converted into private housing. (fn. 132)

The vestry opened its own baths in Finchley Road, opposite the North Star, in 1888 in a building designed by A. W. S. Cooper and Henry Spalding. There were two swimming baths for men, one for women, and 24 private baths; washhouses were not required in that neighbourhood. Success led to the opening of a second bath for women in 1891. (fn. 133) New baths, a gymnasium, and squash and badminton courts were built in 1963-4 with the library at Avenue Road, Swiss Cottage, designed by Sir Basil Spence. The Finchley Road building was used thereafter as a warehouse until destroyed by fire in 1972. (fn. 134)

Hampstead had 281 a. of open space in 1906, covering 12.4 per cent of the borough. The greatest part was formed by the heath and its extensions, lying on the north and east sides of the borough. The M.B.W. acquired 240 a. of the heath in 1871, most of it in Hampstead, and Golders Hill in 1898, of which 4 a. lay in Hampstead. (fn. 135) Inside the southern boundary of the parish lay 34 a. of Primrose Hill, (fn. 136) acquired by the Crown in 1842. (fn. 137) The borough council owned the remaining 3.5 a. of open space: 0.5 a. formed a playground in Lawn Road, opened in 1887, and the rest lay in the western part of the borough, which was badly provided for. West End Green, 0.75 a., was acquired in 1885, and Fortune Green, 2.25 a., was opened to the public in 1897, both preserved as a result of local agitation. (fn. 138) Plans from 1883 to provide Kilburn with a park resulted in the creation of Queen's park (Willesden), (fn. 139) which was too far away to benefit West Hampstead, where the sale of Kilburn Grange in 1910 was thought to be the last opportunity to acquire a substantial open space. After much negotiation, the L.C.C. bought 8.5 a., reserving 7 a. for a park, which it maintained; it paid just over a third of the purchase price, Hampstead contributed nearly another third, and the rest came from Willesden U.D.C., Middlesex C.C., and local contributions. (fn. 140) Hampstead Green was also preserved as open space: in 1899 a lady bought the green, then a paddock with fine trees belonging to two adjoining houses, to give the vestry the chance to take it over at little or no cost. In 1969 it was handed over to the Royal Free hospital and in 1986 very little remained. (fn. 141)

In 1929 public open space totalled 337 a., 14.9 per cent of the borough, and private playing fields covered another 36 a.; the percentage of open space was well above the average for London of 9.7. (fn. 142) Even so, Hampstead had only 3.7 a., compared with a recommended 4 a., for each 1,000 of population. (fn. 143) Despite the acquisition of small pieces of land in garden squares and disused churchyards, most of Hampstead remained poorly provided for, the heath benefiting only the eastern part.


  • 1. N. J. Barton, Lost Rivers of Lond. (1982), 26, 30, 37.
  • 2. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Lond. VII (1877 edn.); Baines, Rec. Hampstead, 211.
  • 3. 35 Hen. VIII, c. 10; C.H.R. iii. 2.
  • 4. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1684-5, 77, 111, 231; Cal. Treas. Bks. 1681-5, 1188.
  • 5. Below, charities.
  • 6. G.L.R.O., P81/JN1/1A, 17, 25 Sept. 1700, 28 Apr., 12 May 1701, 7 Sept. 1702, 26 July, 20 Sept. 1705; above, econ., ind.; below, charities.
  • 7. P.R.O., JUST 1/538, m. 19d.
  • 8. e.g. W.A.M. 32504, 32358; Cal. Close, 1392-6, 136-8; above, other est. (Slyes, Kingswell).
  • 9. 35 Hen. VIII, c. 10.
  • 10. Terms used interchangeably as translation of 'fontem'.
  • 11. S.C.L., MS. survey of Hampstead Heath, 1680.
  • 12. G.L.R.O., E/MW/H/1, 6. Abutments and size of grants suggest that the pond area may have stretched to Perrin's Lane.
  • 13. C.H.R. v. 18.
  • 14. G.L.R.O., E/MW/H/12.
  • 15. M.M. & M., Lib. A, p. 7.
  • 16. Kennedy, Manor of Hampstead, 71.
  • 17. Vestry mins. 18 June 1783.
  • 18. S.C.L., Man. Map; C.H.R. xi. 10.
  • 19. Vestry mins. 21 Oct. 1787.
  • 20. Potter, Hampstead Wells, 15-19.
  • 21. M.M. & M., Lib. A, pp. 229, 303.
  • 22. Return of Public Surface Wells in Metropolis, H.C. 200, p. 8 (1872), xlix.
  • 23. Cruchley's New Plan (1829).
  • 24. 35 Hen. VIII, c. 10.
  • 25. Vestry mins. 29 Mar., 20 Apr. 1802.
  • 26. Potter, Hampstead Wells, 27; Return of Pub. Surface Wells, p. 8.
  • 27. Thompson, Hampstead, 104.
  • 28. Cruchley's New Plan (1829).
  • 29. Vestry mins. 6 July 1801, 27 Apr. 1808.
  • 30. S.C.L., H 628.1, cuttings.
  • 31. Vestry mins. 8, 29 Apr. 1852.
  • 32. Ibid. 30 Mar. 1854; Thompson, Hampstead, 393.
  • 33. Vestry mins. 23 Feb., 25 May 1854.
  • 34. F. Bolton, Lond. Water Supply (1888), 104, maps facing pp. 72, 110; H. W. Dickinson, Water Supply of Gtr. Lond. (1954), 87.
  • 35. Return of Vestries on Improvements since 1855, H.C. 298, pp. 38-9 (1872), xlix; Rep. of Proc. of Hampstead Vestry to 1858 inc. M.O.H. Reps. (1858), 18-19.
  • 36. G. Potter, Random Recollections of Hampstead (1907), 20; Baines, Rec. Hampstead, 198.
  • 37. P.R.O., MH 13/261, no. 3774/53.
  • 38. Vestry mins. 29 Apr. 1852; Metropolitan Com. of Sewers, Return showing Sewers constructed at expense of Com. [1855].
  • 39. Baines, Rec. Hampstead, 188; Return of Vestries on Improvements, 38-9.
  • 40. Vestry mins. 27 Apr. 1854; Baines, Rec. Hampstead, 199-200. John Culverhouse was a dust contractor: above, econ., ind.
  • 41. G.L.R.O., Cal. Mdx. Sess. Bks. iv. 187.
  • 42. G.L.R.O., P81/JN1/1A, 9 Oct. 1704.
  • 43. Mdx. County Rec. Sess. Bks. 1689-1709, 320.
  • 44. G.L.R.O., P81/JN1/1A, chwdns. accts. Oct. 1708; S.C.L., vestry mins. 20 Mar. 1709.
  • 45. Vestry mins. 22 June 1748.
  • 46. Ibid. 31 Oct. 1764.
  • 47. S.C.L., Man. Map.
  • 48. Vestry mins. 28 Dec. 1795.
  • 49. Ibid. 11 Apr. 1839; Baines, Rec. Hampstead, 164-5. A plaque on the lock-up in Cannon Lane wrongly calls it the par. lock-up. It was probably privately built, perhaps for J.P.s living nearby who held petty sessions in their hos., and has no known connexion with the par. watch.
  • 50. Lysons, Environs, ii. 534 n.
  • 51. 15 Geo. III, c. 58 (Priv. Act).
  • 52. Vestry mins. 16, 29 Apr., 30 June 1805.
  • 53. Rep. Cttee. on Police of Metropolis, H.C. 533, pp. 348- 9, 378-9 (1828), vi.
  • 54. Vestry mins. 4, 11 Nov. 1830.
  • 55. E. E. Newton, Fifty Yrs. of Progress (1910), 169-70. Plaque on bldg. erroneously refers to Hampstead police force.
  • 56. Wade, Streets of Hampstead, 30.
  • 57. Ibid.; Newton, Fifty Yrs. 170.
  • 58. The Times, 2 Dec. 1913, 4a.
  • 59. Newton, Fifty Yrs. 170.
  • 60. Wade, W. Hampstead, 62.
  • 61. 15 Geo. III, c. 58 (Priv. Act).
  • 62. Newton, Fifty Yrs. 163.
  • 63. Baines, Rec. Hampstead, 163.
  • 64. Vestry mins. 21 Aug. 1823; Newton, Fifty Yrs. 163-4.
  • 65. Return on Paving, Cleansing and Lighting Met. Districts, H.C. 127, p. 168 (1854-5), liii.
  • 66. Return of Vestries on Improvements, 38-9.
  • 67. Newton, Fifty Yrs. 163; The Times, 11 Oct. 1884, 4f.
  • 68. 46 & 47 Vic. c. 217 (Local); 55 & 56 Vic. c. 220 (Local).
  • 69. Thompson, Hampstead, 413-14.
  • 70. H.H.E. 23 Dec. 1911.
  • 71. Inf. from Lond. Electricity Bd.
  • 72. Vestry mins. 27 June 1753.
  • 73. Ibid. 21 Sept. 1757.
  • 74. Ibid. 21 Sept., 15 Dec. 1837.
  • 75. Trans. Hampstead Hist. Soc. (1898), 33.
  • 76. Baines, Rec. Hampstead, 168.
  • 77. Vestry mins. 31 Oct. 1850.
  • 78. Ibid. 1856, p. 299.
  • 79. Return of Amounts Paid to Maintain Fire Engines, H.C. 322, p. 21 (1864), 1.
  • 80. V.C.H. Mdx. vii. 233.
  • 81. Baines, Rec. Hampstead, 166-7.
  • 82. H.H.E. 17 Aug. 1872; Images of Hampstead, 110.
  • 83. Rep. of M.B.W. 1888, H.C. 326, p. 735 (1889), lxvi.
  • 84. Mem. plaque.
  • 85. Mem. plaque; L.C.C. Mins. 1911 (1), 289; 1913 (2), 733.
  • 86. The Times, 5 Feb. 1923, 7b.
  • 87. L.C.C. Lond. Fire Brigade [c. 1954], 40-1; G.L.C. Lond. Fire Brigade [1979].
  • 88. Hampstead Annual (1898), 29; above, social.
  • 89. Thompson, Hampstead, 417.
  • 90. S.C.L., H 027.4/Kilburn.
  • 91. Ibid. H 027.4/Belsize.
  • 92. Ibid. H 027.4/Central; Camden L.B. Official Guide [1980]; Archit. of Lond. 51.
  • 93. S.C.L., H 027.4/West Hampstead; Central.
  • 94. Ibid. H 027.4/Heath; Central; N. & Q. 11th ser. iii. 145-6; iv. 51; Keats Ho., a Guide (1980).
  • 95. S.C.L., H 362.12; plaque on former dispensary bldg.; Hampstead Year Bk. 1888-91; H.H.E. Dir. and Almanac (1870).
  • 96. Mem. plaques; The Times, 5 Dec. 1913, 11a; 24 Apr. 1929, 13d; 5 Feb. 1930, 11a; Wade, W. Hampstead, 39.
  • 97. G.L.R.O., MAB 1038, report 1884 on right of way.
  • 98. G. M. Ayers, Eng.'s First State Hosps. and Met. Asylums Bd. 1867-1930 (1971), 32-6, 51, 53, 57-8, 72-4; A. Powell, Met. Asylums Bd. and its Work, 1867-1930 (1930), 21, 32, 41; B. Abel-Smith, Hospitals 1800-1948 (1964), 120-1; The Times, 19 Dec. 1883, 9d.
  • 99. Ayers, Eng.'s Hosps. 58.
  • 100. G.L.R.O., MAB 1038.
  • 101. Ibid. MBW 1762, no. 70; 1771, no. 72; D.S.R.
  • 102. Ibid. MAB 1038.
  • 103. Ibid. MAB 2417.
  • 104. Ibid. MAB 2421; D.S.R.
  • 105. Ayers, Eng.'s Hosps. 199-200, 274.
  • 106. Hosp. Year Bk. (1948), 65.
  • 107. V.C.H. Mdx. vi. 171.
  • 108. The Times, 27 Jan. 1960, 7d; 29 Jan. 1968, 17f; S.C.L., 47.1315/Royal Free, newscuttings.
  • 109. Hampstead Year Bk. 1888-91; The Times, 24 Apr. 1885, 9e; 18 Mar. 1901, 7f; 22 Oct. 1902, 10c.
  • 110. C.H.R. v. 32.
  • 111. The Times, 22 Oct. 1902, 10c.
  • 112. G.L.R.O., MAB 1025, pp. 91-3; 1026, pp. 42, 69; The Times, 18 Dec. 1905, 12e; A. S. Gray, Edwardian Archit. 394.
  • 113. L.C.C. Lond. Statistics, xvii. 118.
  • 114. The Times, 1 Aug. 1907, 10a; 3 Apr. 1912, 11a; P.O. Dir. (1902).
  • 115. The Times, 19 Oct. 1908, 6b.
  • 116. Ibid. 8 Nov. 1929, 11f; 1 May 1936, 13c.
  • 117. Min. of Health, Hosp. Survey (1945), 65, 84.
  • 118. Above for North-western, Royal Free; below for Hampstead Children's, New End; Hosp. Year Bk. (1948), 65; The Times, 27 Jan. 1960, 7d; plaque in Heath Strange gdn.; H.H.E. 7 Mar. 1975.
  • 119. S.C.L., H 362/New End, cuttings; Min. of Health, Hosp. Survey, 65, 102; Hosp. Year Bk. (1958), 125; Hosp. & Health Svces. Year Bk. (1978, 1985); The Times, 3 Mar. 1955, 4f; Evg. Standard, 22 May 1986.
  • 120. G.L.R.O., A/KE/253/17; S.C.L., H 362/Mount Vernon; V.C.H. Mdx. iv. 133. Illus. and plan in Builder, 25 Dec. 1880.
  • 121. G.L.R.O., A/KE/249/6; Kelly's Lond. Med. Dict. (1892), 307; Min. of Health, Hosp. Survey, 65, 90; Hosp. Year Bk. (1948 and later edns.); P.O. Dir. Lond. (1952).
  • 122. S.C.L., H 362.1/Friedenheim; G.L.R.O., A/KE/257/ 1; Min. of Health, Hosp. Survey, 58, 98; Hosp. Year Bk. (1947 and later edns.).
  • 123. Above, growth, North End, Littleworth, and Spaniard's End.
  • 124. S.C.L., B 47.1314, list of rec. of Queen Mary's mat. home; 47.1314, notes on mat. home; Min. of Health, Hosp. Survey, 92; Hosp. Year Bk. (1948 and later edns.); H.H.E. 7 Feb. 1975.
  • 125. L.C.C. Lond. Statistics, xxxv. 2; R. Colville, Northern Reaches, 86; The Times, 5 May 1966, 15g; 28 Sept. 1966, 1d; S.C.L., H 362/Marie Curie, cuttings.
  • 126. The Times, 17 Feb. 1956, 3 [photo.]; 13 Apr. 1961, 14e.
  • 127. S.C.L., H 362/Tavistock clinic, cuttings.
  • 128. Thompson, Hampstead, 407; Guildhall MS. 19224/ 315, files 2, 3; The Times, 11 Nov. 1876, 10e; 22 Sept. 1879, 9f.
  • 129. Hampstead Year Bk. 1888-91; datestone; P.O. Dir. Lond. (1968).
  • 130. Endowed Chars. Lond. III, H.C. 252, pp. 106-7, 118 (1900), lxi; below, charities; Hampstead Year Bk. 1889, 28-9.
  • 131. S.C.L., Hampstead boro. council mins., vol. 45, pp. 666-7, 698; vol. 46, pp. 489-90, 564, 592, 730, 806; vol. 47, pp. 272, 414-16, 510, 657.
  • 132. S.C.L., H 725.73, 46.293, 46.284, newscuttings files.
  • 133. Thompson, Hampstead, 412; Gray, Edwardian Archit. 157; The Times, 17 Feb. 1891, 4c; Hampstead Year Bk. 1889, 27.
  • 134. A. Service, Architects of Lond. 198; Camden L.B. Official Guide [1980]; S.C.L., H 728.3/Finchley Rd.
  • 135. Above, growth, Hampstead Heath.
  • 136. L.C.C. Lond. Statistics, xvii. 156-7, 160, 162.
  • 137. Thompson, Hampstead, 221-2.
  • 138. L.C.C. Lond. Statistics, xvii. 17, 160; C.H.R. x. 13-17.
  • 139. The Times, 11 May 1885, 7b; 1 Nov. 1886, 9e.
  • 140. S.C.L., H 942.14, Kilburn scrapbook.
  • 141. The Times, 4 Aug. 1899, 7f; 19 Sept. 1899, 5b; Wade, More Streets, 28.
  • 142. L.C.C. Survey of Open Spaces and Playing Fields (1929).
  • 143. J. H. Forshaw and P. Abercrombie, County of Lond. Plan (1943), 43-4, 168.