St Clements Hospital in Mile End closed in 2005. The services it offered were transferred to the nearby Mile End Hospital. The building, with it’s grand facade, was slowly left to decay. That was until the whole area was extensively redeveloped over the last five years. Now the hospital has entered a new phase. It’s distinctive clock tower still dominant above a whole new housing complex.
The building first opened as a workhouse in 1849 it was called the ‘City of London Union Workhouse‘. Dreaded places, people would go there only when there was no alternative. There were many workhouses in London at the time. In 1874 it was converted into an infirmary for the London Union. It’s core role being to assess patients presenting with mental health issues. In 1902 it had 511 beds.
From Workhouse to Hospital
It closed in 1909 when the Homerton workhouse re-opened. By that time it had become superfluous. Eventually in 1912 it became the ‘City of London Institution’. This time with a role to look after chronically ill people. It then became known as the ‘Bow Institution’ in 1913. The London County Council took over the running of it in 1930.
Eventually in 1936 it became a psychiatric unit and renamed St Clements Hospital. Despite suffering damage in the war it survived and became part of the NHS in 1948. Merging with the London Hospital in 1968 it was renamed London Hospital (St Clements). The hospital closed for good in 2005 with it’s services transferring to the nearby Mile End Hospital.
Exploring the Past
The hospital with its distinctive clock tower and facade would have been well known in East London. Photographer Damien Hewetson managed to visit the hospital during 2014 and 2015. The time was just prior to it’s extensive development. Capturing the building in it’s decayed state. It was virtually untouched since locking it’s doors the best part of 10 years before.
The photographs reveal the grand architecture inside. The building, despite it’s original use as a workhouse, was built to make an impact. Damien’s photography reveals grand staircases and elaborate architectural features. His explorations around the dusty interior capture the dying essence of this former proud building.
Photographs of the Dying Days of St Clements Hospital
Paul Insect Street Art in St Clements.
Hidden around the building were also a number of pieces from street artist Paul Insect. The abandoned nature of the place was perfect for the artist. Insect used to have a studio around the corner so knew the area well. Knowing that the area was to be developed he went in and created a number of pieces. Not concerned whether anyone actually saw them or not it was just an interesting environment to paint in.
St Clements Hospital was visited at times in 2014 and 2015 by photographer Damien Hewetson. All pictures used in this post have been provided by him. You can see his instagram and facebook by clicking on the links.
For more articles relating to historical London have a look at: