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Whipps Cross Hospital in the 1950s

The 1950s saw significant changes to provide new specialist and scientific facilities. In 1950 Ward B5 was converted into improved facilities for the Pathology Laboratory. Ward A6 was adapted as permanent accommodation for the Pathology Department, and the side rooms of Ward A5 provided added facilities for the Pathology Laboratory.

In 1951, an extension to the X-ray and Physiotherapy Departments was opened by local MP, the Rev. Reginald Sorensen, converted from the former Ward A2. Ward A7 became the new Physiotherapy Department and the verandah was enclosed in the Occupational Department. Two further new wards were opened in 1952, bringing bed numbers to

over 1,000.

RLHWX-P-1-5-47 new outpatients 1958.jpg

A new Outpatients

The outpatients department was opened in March 1958 and included modernised facilities such as a new canteen in the waiting area.

Barts Health NHS Trust Archives, RLHWX/P/1/5/47

RLHWX-P-1-5-47 new outpatients 1958.jpg
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50 years of Whipps Cross

Throughout the 1950s, the hospital welcomed many VIP visitors to nursing prizegiving days, the opening of new facilities, and other occasions. Each guest signed the visitors' book.

In 1953, it combined a celebration of the coronation of HRH Queen Elizabeth II with a celebration of the hospital's Golden Jubilee, 50 years since it had opened in 1903.

Barts Health NHS Trust, RLHWX/X/4/1

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Whitewashing the coke

Jan Collier, who worked at Whipps Cross as head of the Medical Staff Office, recalled that:

“Mr Wentworth-Stanley [Chairman of the Hospital Management Committee] made a very up-market impression on the hospital and through the influence of the Lord Lieutenant of Essex. When Official Openings of new developments occurred Royalty came to officiate but he never repeated the first blimp of ordering the white washing of 120 tons of coke outside the boiler house on the back road to mark the 50 years celebration of the hospital in 1953 when Mrs Winthrop Aldrich, wife of the American Ambassador came to visit and marked the occasion by planting a new tree on the front lawn. This caused much caustic comment from the staff and in the local press.”

Barts Health NHS Trust Archives, RLHPP/DOR/3

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RLHPP-WRI-4-3 old coal boilers (1955)_edited.jpg
RLHPP-WRI-4-3 new oil tanks (1955)_edited.jpg

New boilers

With all the work on the hospital site, improvements to the hospital's boilerhouse were also needed, and took place in 1955. Pamela Bedding recalled:

"The hospital used coal to heat the water and provide the central heating and I loved visiting the boiler room to watch the stokers shovelling the coal into the hot furnaces and to watch the pistons going up and down so constantly. When I visited Tower Bridge they had exactly the same furnaces! It was a great event when the system changed to oil..."

Barts Health NHS Trust Archives,


RLHPP-WRI-4-3 old coal boilers (1955)_edited.jpg

Matron Kathleen Fogarty

Miss Kate Fogarty was Matron of the hospital from 1944-c1963. In 1956 she was invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace - she is shown here at the hospital on her way to the Palace. She received an MBE in 1961 for services to nursing.


Matron Fogarty had an apartment at the front of the hospital with a garden, as well as her own ‘secret garden’. She had a corgi dog called Tara, and two personal maids called Molly and Susan. When she went on her hospital rounds her corgi went as well.

Pamela Bedding, who lived on the hospital site, recalled:

"We had a mongrel dog called Rex who led a very colourful life. Rex spent much of his time sitting outside Matron’s front door hoping for a ‘fling’ with Tara. Matron was not amused!"

Barts Health NHS Trust Archives, RLHWX/P/1/5/23

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