Friday, 16 October 2015

Riverside south bank, east of the Tower. Long Reach Hospital

Riverside south bank, east of the Tower.
Long Reach Hospital

Post to the south Long Reach
Post to the west Darenth meets the Thames
Post to the north Purfleet
Post to the east Purfleet Unilever


This post covers the south bank only. The north bank in this square is Purfleet Board Mills

Bleak riverside stretch where smallpox patients were treated


Long Reach
Long Reach Isolation Hospital. Built in 1903 for smallpox patients who came by river.  It was erected by the Metropolitan Asylums Board at the end of 1901 to provide temporary extra accommodation during a smallpox epidemic. It was on land adjoining the shore base of hospital ships Atlas, Endymion, and Castalia which were full. It was designed by A & C Harston. Up to 300 patients were to be accommodated in a long row of detached single-storey ward pavilions built of wood and iron. Patients came by river by the Metropolitan Board’s river ambulance service which terminated at the Long Reach pier. A tramway was constructed in 1897 to transfer patients between the pier and hospital in horse-drawn tram-cars. It was worked as an auxiliary hospital to the ships with Dr Ricketts as Medical Superintendent with Matron Wacher and Steward Moule. The first patients arrived in February 1902. In 1910, it was decided that Long Reach would be kept in reserve for smallpox and the other local River Hospitals would be used for fevers and convalescence. In 1928 the hospital was rebuilt as a permanent smallpox hospital, It was transferred from Metropolitan Asylums Board to London County Council and later to the NHS.  In 1953 the Thames flooded, and Long Reach was submerged to 6 feet. The Gate Porter was the only member of staff on duty and he waded to Joyce Green. By the 1960’s the hospital had had 50 beds on standby and could be reopened in two hours with staff were on permanent standby. On duty they moved in for 14 days at a time and all their clothing was destroyed when they left.  By 1973 just 30 beds were kept on standby and it was opened for one patient. This was the last patient ever to be treated at Long Reach. The old isolation buildings were deliberately destroyed by fire in 1977 to make sure that no infection remained. The site was then taken over by Thames Water.

Sources
Dartford Hospitals. Web site
Workhouses. Web site

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