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Hospitals in the port

The first dockers' hospital
Poplar Hospital
The East London Hospital for Children
The 'Small Star in the East'
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The East London Hospital for Children

The Shadwell Hospital for Women and Children

The East London Hospital for Children and Dispensary for Women was the creation of two tireless philanthropists. Dr Nathaniel Heckford and his wife Sarah had been appalled by their experiences in Wapping during the 1866 cholera outbreak.

In January 1868, they opened the Shadwell Hospital for Women and Children in a converted warehouse at Ratcliff Cross. The Heckfords threw everything into the founding and the running of the hospital. Nathaniel died in 1871, aged only 29.

The East London Hospital

The East London Hospital for Children.
View full size imageThe original 1877 building of the East London Hospital in Shadwell. © NMM
From the beginning the hospital relied totally on private donations. It soon received strong support, particularly after Charles Dickens paid two visits in 1869.

Dickens' two articles about the hospital helped secure powerful friends.

East London Hospital, Shadwell: The Jubilee Memorial Wing.
View full size imageEast London Hospital, Shadwell: The Jubilee Memorial Wing. © NMM
When an impressive new building was opened in Shadwell in 1877, the ceremony was conducted by the Duchess of Teck, grand-daughter of George III.

The hospital continued to prosper. In 1887 a new Memorial Wing was added to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.


Royal support

Princess Marie Louis at Gill Street May Festival in 1921.
View full size imagePrincess Marie Louise fundraising in 1921. © NMM
The royal family continued to support the hospital. Princess Marie Louise, seen here at the local Gill Street May Festival in 1921, was a regular campaigner.

In 1932 it was renamed the Princess Elizabeth of York Hospital for Children. In 1942 it became part of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children. It closed in April 1963 and the building was later demolished.



Find out more
GalleriesPoplar Hospital - the first hospital for dockers
StoriesPorts and disease
Before rail, road or air travel diseases moved most swiftly by sea
StoriesContaining smallpox in Victorian London
The floating hospitals
National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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