Report - - Block 8 (Nurses' home), OldChurch Hospital, Romford, Essex - November 2014 | Asylums and Hospitals | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Block 8 (Nurses' home), OldChurch Hospital, Romford, Essex - November 2014


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I had seen this on 28DL in the past, back then, however, it looked like there wasn't much left of the site and the one block that remained seemed destined to be demolished before 2013 was over and so I looked over it. Then in early November whilst passing on the trains towards Stratford I noticed it was still standing, then on the way to Basildon we jumped off quick and a look. The place surprised me and hope the picture reflect that well.

I've uploaded in large today, if it's a bit overkill, I'm more than happy to downsize them. :Thumb

As some of you may know, I took a few film shots but the negatives were scratched in development, so the ones with blue streaks are film.


Oldchurch Hospital originated from the Romford Union workhouse, which had been built during 1838 and 1839 to the southwest of Romford.


The 5-acre site on Oldchurch Road was purchased by the Union from a Mr Philpot at £160 an acre. The 2-storey workhouse building was of a cruciform build, a popular design with the dormitory blocks laid out in a cross-shape. It could house 450 inmates.

Romford (or "Rumford", as it was known back then) was the subject of a report in An Account of Several Workhouses..., dated October 24th, 1724.

THE Number of People taken in and provided for in the Workhouse here, is very different, sometimes more, and sometimes less. We have had above 30, and now under 20. These being impotent people, very aged, or Children, it cannot be expected they should earn a great deal: However, somewhat they do, both Men and Women go abroad to work, when there is a Demand for them ; and at Home the Women spin or wind Silk, and the Men pick Ockam.
I must, SIR, observe to you, that the Advantage of the Workhouse to the Parish, does not arise from what the poor People can do towards their Subsistance, but from the Apprehensions the Poor have of it. These prompt them to exert, and do their utmost to keep themselves off the Parish, and render them exceedingly averse to submit to come into the House, till extream Necessity compels them.
PRIDE, tho' it does ill become poor Folks, won't suffer some to wear the Badge; others cannot brook Confinement; and a third Sort deem the Workhouse to be a mere State of Slavery, and so Numbers are kept out.
THERE are two things more that have greatly contributed to render the Workhouse beneficial towards reducing the Poor's Rate, viz. That whereas before a great many Pensions were granted, thro' Partiality or Favour, these are all stopped: An whereas it was usual to pay Rents for the Poor, we have resolved to pay none ; and in this Article we have saved to the Parish above 70l per Annum.
BEFORE opening of the House, our Poor were sometimes 1s. 8d. and 1s. 10d. and never under 1s. 6d. per Pound ; last Year they were but 1s. out of which too we paid a Debt of 50l. and this Year we hope to some off for 8d.
THE Expenses for the Workhouse from Michaelmas 1723, to Michaelmas 1724, were 147l. 11s. 0d ¼, and the Receipts for the Labour and Work of the poor in the same Time, were 10l. 17s. 7d. ¼.
The Orders in the Work-house at Rumford are to the following Effect.
I. THAT the Master and Mistress be sober and orderly Persons, and not given to swear, and that they see the Orders strictly performed.
II. THAT they rise by seven a Clock in the Morning from Michaelmas to Lady-Day; and by six from Lady-Day to Michaelmas.
III. THAT they see the Family a Bed by eight a Clock, and their Candles out, during the Winter half-Year ; but in the Summer half-Year, that they be in Bed by nine.
IV. THAT they have their Breakfast in the Winter half-Year at eight in the Morning, and in the Summer half-Year by seven.
V. THAT they have their Dinner by one a Clock all the Year.
VI. THAT they have their Supper at six in the Evening during the Winter half-year, and in the Summer at seven.
VII. THAT the Beer be drawn by one Person for a whole Day in his Turn.
VIII. THAT the Cloth be laid by Turns for Breakfast, Dinner, and Supper.
IX. THAT they sit at the Table to eat their Meals in a decent manner.
X. THAT the Master say Grace before, and after their Meals.
XI. THAT they have the House swept from top to bottom every Morning, and washed once a Week.
XII. THAT they are called to work in Summer by seven, and in the Winter at eight in the Morning.
XIII. THAT they leave Work at seven a Clock at Night in the Summer, and six in the Winter.
XIV. THAT no Person go out of the Gate without the Master's Leave.
XV. THAT if any Person steals, or is heard to swear, or curse, for such Crimes the first time to stand on a Stool at one Corner of the Working-Room, the whole Day, with the Crime pinned to their Breast.
XVI. THAT for the second Offence, he or she stand in the like Posture, and have half a Pound of Bread, and a Quart of Water for that Day.
XV1I. THAT for the third Offence, he or she be ordered by a Justice of Peace to be publickly whipt.
XVIIL THAT the Master read, or cause to be read, Prayers every Morning before Breakfast, and every Evening before Supper, and call together as many as can be conveniently there.
XlX. THAT these Prayers shall be out of the Whole Duty of Man, or some other good Book, as the Minister shall appoint.
XX. THAT the Master and Mistress shall every Lord's Day attend at the Publick Worship, with as many of the House as are not hindred by a just Reason.
XXI. THAT on the Lord's Day, either before Church, or after Dinner, he do read, or cause to be read, the Psalms and Lessons appointed for the Morning Service : and after Evening Prayer, the Psalms and Lessons for the Evening Service ; and also a Section or Chapter out of the Whole Duty of Man.
XXII. THAT the Master and Mistress do receive the Holy Sacrament four Times every Year at least.
XXIII. THAT the Master do give an Account every Monthly Meeting, of all such as are negligent and disorderly.
The administration block was at the south of the site, whilst the main accommodation blocks radiated from a central hub or core. Observation windows in the hub enabled the workhouse master to observe and watch the inmates in each of the four exercise yards/playgrounds. The dormitories and Day Rooms for the female inmates were on the eastern side in the northeast and southeast arms of the cross, while the males occupied the western side in the northwest and southwest arms. The kitchens and dining rooms were located at the north of the building.

In 1893 the workhouse was renamed the Romford Poor Law Institution. Later an infirmary block was added at the north of the site.

During WW1 the infirmary of the Institution became the Romford Military Hospital, an auxiliary hospital for the Colchester Military Hospital, with 82 beds for wounded and sick servicemen.

In 1924 further additions were built at the north and east of the site.


In 1929, following the abolition of the Poor Law Guardians, the workhouse and its infirmary came under the administration of Essex County Council, who converted the buildings into the Oldchurch County Hospital.

The Hospital, which incorporated the old workhouse buildings, was much expanded during the 1930s to have over 800 beds.

During WW2 it joined the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) with 868 beds, of which 96 were EMS beds for air-raid casualties.

In 1948 the Hospital joined the NHS under the control of the Romford Group Hospital Management Committee, part of the North East Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board.

It remained an acute hospital and, by 1962, it had 651 beds for acute and maternity patients.

In 1974, following a major reorganisation of the NHS, the Hospital came under the control of the Havering District Health Authority, part of the Barking and Havering Area Health Authority of the North East Thames Regional Health Authority. Its maternity services had closed and it had 629 beds for acute cases.

In 1980 it had 600 beds. In 1982, after another NHS reorganisation, it came under the control of the Barking, Havering and Brentwood District Health Authority. By 1986 it had 530 beds.

In 1993, following another NHS reform, the Hospital was under the control of the Havering Hospitals NHS Trust.

In 2000 it had 473 beds. Despite local opposition, the old cruciform workhouse building was demolished so that a temporary single-storey building could be erected in its place.

In 2003 the Hospital was administered by the Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust. By 2005 there were 565 beds.

The Hospital closed in 2006, with the last patient being seen on 15th December. Services were transferred to the nearby newly built Queen's Hospital and to the King George Hospital in Chadwell Heath.

Present status (February 2008)

The site has been sold and is being redeveloped by E.ON and Taylor Wimpey East London. The front parts of the Hospital have been demolished and keyworker housing - Reflections - is being erected in the northeast corner. The southeast corner is bare, awaiting house-building.

Now only Block 8 stands.


Out of all the hospital buildings, only Block 8 remains.

The building at present sits in the middle of a building site surrounded by rising apartment blocks, it seems surreal to have this one block in the middle of such a modern development. The building it's self quite structurally sound, it's just the exterior fittings have decayed and fallen apart, the internal décor has been stripped and a lot of the windows have just been ripped out. The slates on the roof clearly aren't in the best of conditions and I assume the place leaks like a colander when it does rain. Green growth seems to be flourishing and a lot of the wood is practically rotting into soil.
Windows remain smashed and paint has begun to peel and flake. The floor, doors and obviously some windows have been stripped out and dumped in the courtyard in a big heap. This sounds bad, but inside the places looks a lot better than it did with the floor! Little remains equipment wise, a vending machine, table and a chair remain in the hall. but despite this, a lot of the original furnishings remain in situ, i.e. the stair case, main window frames and a lot of the décor in the hall, A few signs remain in place and if I'm honest, this place is very photogenic, looks great inside but very dilapidated. The exterior shows a lot of stunning architecture, except it has been ripped apart by contractors. All in all, this building COULD have a future, and personally believe it deserves to have one.


Planning permission has been submitted to demolish Block 8, unfortunately, it seems likely they will grant it. Block 8 now sticks out like a sore thumb and has literally been bullied into submission by close by rising developments that shadow it's future.

Strategic planning application stage 1 referral (new powers)

Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended); Greater London Authority Acts 1999 and 2007; Town & Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2008.

The proposal

Demolition of block 8 (former nurses’ home) and redevelopment to provide 77 new homes, and associated parking and landscaping.

The applicant

The applicant is Taylor Wimpey East London, and the architect is CJCT.

Strategic issues

The loss of the non-designated heritage asset raises an objection in principle. Notwithstanding this, other issues with respect to housing, urban design, inclusive access, sustainable development and transport are also identified.


That Havering Council be advised that the application does not comply with the London Plan for the reasons set out in paragraph 52 of this report.

Swan new homes will likely be granted permission and demolish it, rebuilding a 77 apartment residential block in it's place. (http://www.swannewhomes.co.uk/oldchurch-park/), having said that, they're new developments work well with Romford as a town, it's just a big shame they had to eradicate the Oldchurch site to build it.

Visit and pictures



Well, I had a lot of fun visiting this site, must of spent an hour in here. hiding from the builders was a lot of fun



The fence guarding the place was a little off putting at first but it soon came apparent we had no choice but to jump it



Then after UrbanAlex cautiously clambered over it we were in and quickly made our way round the front to see what was what



Aware of the builders that could easily have seen us from up on the scaffolding of the new developments, we found our way inside block 8 and begun our visit



A lot of people seemingly complain of 'derps' like this, but a lot of us love them, I.E. this one, it looks great from the outside and the inside, the decay was stunning and the place had a great feel to it



We wandered the corridors and rooms and realised how quiet it was, and we expected to hear the contractors outside, but silence. It seemed like an odd contrast of the old buildings and decay to the new developments and contractors



Staying quite ourselves was quite a task, a lot of it was crumbling under our feet, but the looming cranes outside reminded us we didn't need to be as stealthy as expected, Block 8 was forgotten



We continued to mooch and snap away, oblivious to the public wandering passed outside



As we ventured East on the site, we noticed more windows were missing, as we wandered the 3rd floor corridor, we looked Left and realised we were looking straight into the front room of a new apartment next door



Time to go, and as we crept across the courtyard to the gate, we were spotted by builders up on the roof of a development



One began to shout followed by another, and another until a harsh sounding choir of contractors were howling at us as we ran across



I jumped that 9ft fence like Mario, wish I could've said the same about Alex, we got stuck up top and hurt his leg



With a bit of encouragement he was free and we made a run for it knowing full well the builders, security or perhaps worse were coming for us



We hoped down into the subway and made a B-line to a shop to get some cheap chocolate, then we were off to Basildon


Maybe there's hope for this place, maybe a resident will appeal or the contractors will maybe miraculously add it into their development


Whatever happens, this place is great, full of character and it'll be a real shame if it's flattened, I hope you enjoyed the report and enjoyed reading, apologies for the blue streaks in the film set and the pic heavy report.

Cheers for looking!



28DL Regular User
Regular User
Nice report mate, enjoyed that :thumb

Looks quite a photogenic place. Some beautiful shots all round but particularly like that one near the end of the plant growing on the window ledge, something quite nice about that one :)

Nice work!


A life backwards
Regular User
Fantastic, cracking report and snaps !!

massive mart 81

28DL Member
28DL Member
Just to let you know that the nurse home at oldchurch hospital us now fully demolished. Very sad to see. I was part of that building for around 5 years. All that stays now is the porters lodge aka estates department. Very sad!
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