St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington

Above: The original Cambridge Wing, in the Norfolk Place. This building suffered additions and alterations over the years.

St Mary’s Hospital was founded in 1845 as a voluntary hospital for the benefit of the sick poor of north and NW London and has been based at the same site in Paddington for over 100 years. It was the last of the great voluntary hospitals to be founded in London. The name of ‘St Mary’ is taken from the church of Paddington in whose parish it stands.

The hospital originally opened with 50 beds in what is now the Cambridge Wing. The building, in red brick with stucco dressings, was designed by Hopper and Wyatt and erected 1843-61. It first opened its doors to patients in 1851. The building faces NE and stands on the west side of the northern part of Norfolk Place.

Above: The 1892 Clarence Memorial Wing which faces onto Praed Street.

In 1892 Clarence Memorial Wing was built, designed by Sir William Emerson in an eclectic Renaissance style. The building was opened in 1904. It has ashlar lower storeys with red brick above with ashlar dressings. The Grand Central block has five bays with arcaded balconies. It still stands on the north side of Praed Street and is Grade II listed.

Since that time, other extensions have been added and there are several adjacent modern buildings on the site. Buildings extend north from Praed Street to line the Paddington Arm of the Regent’s Canal.

Since the UK’s first academic health science centre was created in 2008, it has been operated by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which also operates Charing Cross Hospital, Hammersmith Hospital, Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, and Western Eye Hospital.


Above: Plaque which faces onto Praed Street

The laboratory where Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin has been restored to its cramped condition of 1928 and incorporated into a museum about the discovery and his life and work. The effects of penicillium mould were finally isolated in 1928 by Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming, in work that seems to have been independent of earlier observations and experiments. Fleming recounted that the date of his discovery of penicillin was on the morning of Friday 28 September 1928. His laboratory was in the basement of St Mary’s Hospital and Fleming noticed a Petri dish containing Staphylococcus that had been mistakenly left open was contaminated by blue-green mould from an open window, which formed a visible growth. This remarkable discovery was not used to treat infections generally until 1942.


Background Comment 01

I have been thinking for some time that there should be a place within the blogs where I could provide some background to these ‘Know Your London’ articles. In the same way that a theatre manager sometimes feels it necessary to appear in front of the curtain before a performance, these ‘background’ comments will explain a little of the general structure of the weekly blogs. This is the first one and others will follow as and when necessary.

If you have been following the blogs since the beginning of January you will know that the majority of the articles have been concerned with the ancient parishes of Paddington and St Marylebone – which are now part of the City of Westminster. We have now completed the series of blogs related to those two areas but further ones may be added in the future.

For Paddington, the titles are:

Brunel, Isambard (Statue)
Conduit Mews, Paddington
Helix Bridge, Paddington Waterside
Leinster Terrace
Little Venice
Milestone, Edgware Road
Paddington Green
Paddington Roman Roads
Paddington Station
Paddington Waterside
Point, Paddington Waterside, The
St Mary, Paddington Green
St Mary’s Hospital
Two Figures (Public Art), Paddington Central

For St Marylebone, the titles are:

Great Conduit, Marylebone Lane
Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone Road
London Zoo
New Road
Regent’s Park
St Marylebone Street Names
St Mary, St Marylebone
Shillibeer’s Bus
Tyburn Gallows
Tyburn Manor House
York Street Bow-fronted Shops

For the next few weeks, we will continue with several blogs related to a selection of places in Inner London which will hopefully be of interest to our growing number readers. Some are historical articles. A few are topical – relating to more recent developments in Inner London.


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2 Responses to St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington

  1. Malcolm says:

    The ornate building shown in your photo isn’t the original hospital building of 1843-61. It’s the Clarence Memorial Wing, which was opened in 1904. The much plainer 1843-61 building is now known as the Cambridge Wing and is in Norfolk Place. They are discussed and illustrated as buildings 13 and 10 respectively in this City of Westminster document about an extension to the Bayswater Conservation Area:

    This StreetView image shows both wings, the Clarence Memorial Wing on the main road and the Cambridge Wing through the arch: .


    • I am most grateful to you for the correction. I had believed that the building in my picture was the original building although I was always aware that there were further buildings through the arch in your picture. Thank you too for the link to the pdf. There is plenty it to be studied.


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