Report - - St. Clements's Hospital, Mile-end, Bow, London - August 2014 | Asylums and Hospitals | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - St. Clements's Hospital, Mile-end, Bow, London - August 2014


28DL Regular User
Regular User
St. Clement's hospital


Been holding on to my pics for a while, loved this site a lot. Clock tower was pretty epic and despite the morgue being stripped and rather empty, the site was thoroughly enjoyable, one of the best in my opinion.

Was a little worried they were demolishing the clock tower so after finally researching it and realising they're retaining it I thought I might as well put a report up. I'm so happy they're keep that tower, It just looks awesome and the view up there is nice, hopefully they get a new mechanism in it and get it ticking away again soon.

As always, pics at the end if you're not interested in the write up. :D


A little timeline:


1834 - Poor Law Amendment Act defined the organisation of Poor Law Unions

1848-49 - City of London Workhouse for the City of London Union, known as Bow Workhouse, opened 1849. Built by the Board of Guardians of the City of London, designed by Richard Tress to accommodate 1200 persons

1867 - Poor Law Reform Act that led to more specific workhouse infirmaries

1869 - Amalgamation of West and East London Unions with the City of London Union

1874 - Bow Workhouse became Bow Infirmary

1909 - Bow Infirmary closed and lay vacant – the Infirmary had been amalgamated with the Homerton Workhouse

1911-12 - The Infirmary was adapted and became The City of London Institution, Bow for the chronic sick in March

1912 – with a certificate for 600 inmates, ‘paupers who are not able bodied but at the same time cannot be included in the infirmary patients’ (cost £11,000), managed by the City of London Board of Guardians

1930 - Local Government Bill abolished the Poor Law Unions London County Council took over the Infirmary and undertook a major building programme

1935 - Hospital affected by a major fire in the west wing

1936-37 - Renamed St Clement’s Hospital in May 1936, after the City of London church of the same name.Major project including nurses’ home (cost £29,966)

1940-44 - Damaged by wartime bombing – with a loss of 214 beds, the chapel lost its roof, the western former women’s wing was destroyed and much more was damaged

1948 - Taken over by Regional Hospital Board at the inception of the National Health Service. It was partially derelict at this time

1959 - Converted to a psychiatric hospital by the Regional Board

1968 - Became part of the London Hospital (St Clement’s)

2005 - Hospital closed, site available for redevelopment

2011 - Homes and Communities Agency start the tender process for a new residential use

The full history:

The historic significance of the site lies in its development history that is in five distinct phases: workhouse, workhouse infirmary, institution, a general hospital under the London County Council and latterly under the National Health Service.


The workhouse, as a central place for assisting the poor, has its origins in occasional experiments in earlier centuries. As the speed of economic change increased from the later eighteenth century and as the extent of poverty grew, so more areas began to pool resources and provide workhouses in the name of both efficiency and deterrence. The real change came with the advent of the New Poor Law in 1834. Under the Poor Law Amendment Act, parishes – the traditional unit of local government – were combined into Poor Law Unions, and instructed to build workhouses to provide ‘indoor relief’. Although ‘outdoor relief’ continued, caring for paupers in their homes, the emphasis was now on institutional assistance that was often both harsh and degrading. Many areas embraced change enthusiastically; others were slower to respond. Each Union appointed a Board of Guardians answerable to the ratepayers and to the Poor Law Commission in London. The City of London Union took longer than many areas to provide a workhouse, establishing one on the Bow Road in east London to designs by Richard Tress.

Plan of Workhouse -


This shows the orthogonal plan with a central spine

The landscape is focused at the Bow Row frontage and in the enclosed therapeutic gardens

Key- Reception Block (1 John Denham Building)b. Chapel (now demolished)c. Administration Block (4)d. Ward Blocks (5 North Block on east side)e. Kitchen (6 Catering Block)f. Dining Room (now demolished)g. Laundry (9/10 Occupational Therapy)h. Infirmary (15 South Block)i. Mortuary (16 Generator)j. Workshops (17 Old Boiler House)

Richard Tress, architect, Bow Road (St Clement’s Hospital)Richard Tress, the architect for Bow Road workhouse, predominately designed in an Italianate style. He had published Modern churches: designs, estimates, and essays in 1841 before he embarked on Bow Road. Italianate styles dominated the book. The Corn Exchange, Saffron Walden in Essex (1847), Ravensknowle near Huddersfield in the West Riding of Yorkshire (1860), and the City of London workhouse in Bow Road (1849) are among his most important surviving commissions. In 1856 Tress also designed the Central London District School at Hanwell, Middlesex for the amalgamated Poor Law Unions that included the City of London. Parts of it survive, and this too was Italianate.The buildings commissioned from Tress for the Poor Law Unions were on a substantial and relatively lavish scale: Bow Road cost £55,000 when first built, Hanwell School cost £45,000. These were both in the second great wave of workhouse building. Over 350 new workhouses had been built in England between 1834 and 1840, many on square and radial plans that emphasized the punitive nature of the environment. After 1840, workhouse architecture tended to be less harsh and more showy.It now became the norm to have a separate entrance block, a linear main block, and a hospital block all running parallel to one another. Around 150 of these corridor-plan workhouses were built in the period 1840-70. Bow Road (St Clement’s Hospital) is a well-preserved and fine exemplar of this type.In corridor-plan workhouses, the main block generally had a central corridor along its length with rooms off to both sides, unlike earlier designs that were usually one room deep. This main block normally had administrative functions at its centre, often surmounted by a tower containing a large water tank, with kitchens and dining hall to the rear, creating a T-shaped building. Many of these new buildings were in the north of England, which had initially held out against building new workhouses, and in London. They were often Italianate, with gables, pinnacles, projecting bays and Venetian windows, a style that was fashionable but also less gruesome than the utilitarian and gothic earlier wave.After 1870, fashions in workhouse design changed again, moving to a pavilion style that was already becoming prevalent in hospital design, influenced by the reforms instigated by Florence Nightingale.

Bow Workhouse 1849-1874

/live/community_projects/library/stclements_history2.jpgTress’s designs for the Bow Workhouse conformed to the model type. The accommodation for the paupers was regimented into a symmetrical plan that subdivided the sexes, and isolated the infirm and feverish into separate blocks. The plan illustrated in The Builder identifies all the areas and functions except the mortuary; that appears on the Ordnance Survey plan, located on the boundary wall, but is not shown on The Builder plan.The front block contained receiving rooms for men on the left and women on the right with the porters’ lodge in the centre and a grand committee room for the Guardians on the first floor. The central spine of the site contains the chapel (demolished), catering block and dining hall (demolished), men and married couples to the left, women and children to the right. Workshops (demolished), a laundry and workrooms separate the rear part of the site, where the infirmary block and the fever ward building (demolished) were located. The spaces around the buildings were divided into compounds known as airing grounds, where the inmates could exercise. Originally the privies would have been located in these outside areas. Covered walkways linked the main wards to the chapel and the catering building.The layout of the workhouse partly survives, with the major exceptions of the loss of the west wing through bombing, loss of the chapel, and loss of the dining room (demolished to make way for the nurses’ home).It is clear that from the start this workhouse was anticipating admitting mainly infirm and unruly inmates, and there is little space given to industry or the work tasks that are associated with many other workhouses.


In the mid-nineteenth century the only health care provided by central or local authorities was for paupers. All other hospitals were voluntary hospitals and were funded by charitable donations.

Bow Infirmary 1874-1909


In the 1860s there had been an outcry against the conditions in the workhouse infirmaries and the growing numbers of sick and infirm in the workhouses in London. Numerous reports were written that culminated in the Metropolitan Poor Law Amendment Act 1867. It set out to remove lunatics and imbeciles from London workhouses and to provide separate accommodation for fever and smallpox cases.

Consequently in 1874 the Bow Workhouse was transferred to being under medical supervision, taking in sick paupers from a wider catchment area and from neighbouring workhouses.

Bacon’s map of 1888 shows how the Infirmary is close by both the Cemetery and the Whitechapel Union Workhouse in South Grove. Terraced houses back onto the boundary walls and include an almshouse on the western boundary. The wider surrounding area was densely populated, and is in close proximity to industry and the docks. By 1893 the tramway passed along Bow Road in front of the Infirmary.

A new entrance with linking passage was extended to Bow Road; this can be seen in the photograph of 1905. By this time the wards will have seemed out of date, as new ward design in the 1870s emphasised the importance of cross ventilation which was not provided in the workhouse layout. Purpose-built infirmaries were typically built on a pavilion layout with cross ventilation in all the wards.

In 1909, the City of London Union vacated the Bow Road site. It had decided to concentrate its work elsewhere, at Homerton in the former East London Union workhouse, which had just been substantially enlarged and brought up to date.


The City of London Institution, Bow 1912-1930

The buildings lay empty for around three years until they were reopened after deliberations between the London Guardians Board and the City Guardians. The East London Advertiser recorded that the new Institution received males from the Metropolitan Unions who ‘while not requiring the skilled medical nursing treatment given in the Poor Law Infirmaries, are in need of more medical and nursing care than can be given in the Workhouses’. There was certified accommodation for 651 inmates in the scheme and an intention to provide a male nursing training school within the Institution to supply nurses to kindred organisations. Paying patients were charged £12s 6d a week.

Sanitary towers providing internal water closets and basins were built onto the old infirmary and the main wards, the boiler house and laundry blocks were extended, a two storey extension was added to the rear of the front block (John Denham Building) and a new front porch or lodge was added to the side of the entrance corridor.


The Local Government Act of 1929 empowered local authorities to appropriate former workhouses and workhouse infirmaries. A Health Committee could then develop the hospital as a general hospital, providing hospital beds to the general public where previously beds were available only to paupers. London County Council took over Bow Institution in 1930 and made changes to adapt it to becoming a general hospital. At this time the standing and social acceptability of hospitals was rising and the numbers of patients increased.

In 1935 a fire in the western, former women’s wing, as shown in the press photograph, caused considerable damage but without loss of life and this was made good again. The hospital needed to expand to cope with rising numbers of patients, and so the nurses’ home was built on the site of the old dining hall in 1936-37.

The renaming of the Institution as St Clement’s Hospital in 1936, after a City of London church, was partly in recognition of the long link to the City, while by this time there was a move away from the idea of an Institution and towards a general hospital open to all.

Before the 1960s, it was common for nurses – who were almost always single women – to live on a hospital site or near at hand, in specially designated and often purpose-designed nurses’ homes. All the major London hospitals were building or converting nurses’ homes from the later nineteenth century onwards. As a nearby example, Tredegar House, immediately opposite St Clement’s, was opened in 1912 as a residence for nurses starting their training at The London Hospital before moving to accommodation at the main site on Whitechapel Road.

St Clement’s was no exception. As the central dining hall had been subdivided and now fallen into disuse, it made an ideal site for a nurses’ home to be built in 1935. Set well within the hospital complex, it needed to make no architectural statement to the outside world. Designed by the LCC architecture department, the home was in a current ‘moderne’ style being widely adopted in hospital and public buildings at the time. A curved window and balcony for the communal space is a nod to prevailing styles with ideas about light and space; otherwise it is a fairly utilitarian and undemonstrative building.

The hospital took a hit from bombing in the Second World War with the loss of the western (female ward) wing, considerable damage to the chapel and the loss of the old fever wards. There still remains the possibility of contamination, particularly in the chapel site and western wing basements. from the war damage. Although the chapel was much damaged it appears from the photographic record by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments to have been left standing in 1949, only being demolished after the National Health Service had taken over the site.


National Health Service 1948

The National Health Service was inaugurated on 5 July 1948; following this, the NHS ran St Clement’s. The concept of healthcare for everyone was established. The hospital was a general hospital with a psychiatric specialism.

The RCHM photographs record the state of the central buildings in 1947 and the repairs carried out by the NHS in 1949. These show that the committee room of the Board of Guardians had survived but repairs were necessary to the roof and the interior. The western wing was demolished and the catering block was re-roofed. Also, the clock tower on the John Denham Building was demolished post-1949.

The chapel remained after 1949 but it had sustained substantial damage to the roof. This was demolished at some point and was replaced around 1966 by a two-storey timber building. It masks the scar of the loss of the chapel, but has no value in itself.

The rendered scars of the western wing and the chapel require particular attention in any refurbishment programme.

The interiors were much altered by the NHS with dropped ceilings, partitions and alterations and insertions to the sanitary arrangements. This can be seen in the record photographs.

St Clement’s Hospital closed its doors in 2005.

Following its closure the site was transferred from the NHS to English Partnerships, then to the Homes and Communities Agency, and eventually the Greater London Authority, who in 2011 took the site to market so that it could be sold and redeveloped. In June 2012 it was announced that St Clements would become the United Kingdom's first urban Community Land Trust, with the East London Community Land Trust[1] working in partnership with Linden Homes (Galliford Try) and Peabody Housing Trust to bring the scheme forward.

In August 2013 St Clement's was reopened to the public for the first time as the site of Shuffle Festival, a community festival showing films curated by Danny Boyle. There was also an art exhibition, music, live projections and a 'Day of the Mind' - an alternative fête day with installations by artists and scientists exploring ideas about mental health. The Day of the Mind was free to the public and supported by the Wellcome Trust. The Arts Council and Canary Wharf Group also provided support for the festival. In December 2013 Shuffle returned as the Winter Shuffle, with an extended programme of art, film, storytelling, theatre, music and science from 5–15 December.

Sometime after the Shuffle festival the morgue was stripped out and used as a generator room, I assume, for the festival.

All thanks to Linden Homes for a nice bit of info on there site and the plans - http://www.lindenhomes.co.uk/community/london/st-clements/history#nav

I personally believe they're doing a good job on the site and can't see how anything else would benefit the community in a better way, and so happy they're keeping that tower. :D

With help the good old Wiki -


Linden Homes were selected as Greater London’s (GLA) Development Partner in October 2012 to deliver the redevelopment of St Clement’s hospital.

St Clement’s redevelopment will be London’s first Community Land Trust (CLT) whereby the freehold of the development will be held in Trust by the Ricardo Community Foundation. The proposal for St Clement’s is a principally residential led scheme with the provision of up to 250 units accommodated in existing and new buildings.

Linden Homes are responsible for the delivery of the redevelopment and marketing/sale of the private units. 35% (by habitable room) of the total number of habitable rooms will be affordable accommodation. Of the affordable element 70% of the units will be owned by Peabody for social rent and the remainder (30% 21 – 25 units) will be owned by the East London Community Land Trust (ELCLT) for Shared Ownership.

Since being selected in October Linden Homes and their architects John Thompson and Partners have been working with the community and other key stakeholders to develop a vision for the site in preparation for submission of a planning application in spring this year.

For further information about the Community Planning Process, please contact Ieva Ansaberga by email ia@jtp.co.uk or call on the freephone community telephone number displayed below.

Phone Number: 0800 0126 730

Postcode: E3 4LL

Taken from - http://www.lindenhomes.co.uk/community/london/st-clements#nav

All planning applications can be found here - http://planreg.towerhamlets.gov.uk/WAM/showCaseFile.do?action=show&appType=Planning&appNumber=PA/13/01532

This image shows the proposed demolition and development with the red grids indicating demolition/partial demolition:



As of August the site is being developed and partially demolished. When I visited a few bits had already gone but much was left and there's no major signs of any natural damage, all buildings, other than peeling paint and cracked plaster, the structures seem very strong, basements were not flooded and there seemed to be no subsidence at all. They seem to be all a ok. :)

Diggers were on site and the contractors office we in situ along with tools, generators and other equipment.

The john Denham building was in use and seemed pretty newly decorated. lights were on and didn't seem relevant to access it.

Administration had tools in situ, but hadn't yet been stripped, sinks, trolleys and furniture still seemed to be left. Original paint and graffiti all present. A pipe had obviously been cut through whilst live and there seemed to be quite a mess below the clock tower stairs.

The building occupying the site of the old dining room seemed to be in ok shape although I didn't spend much time in it. The boiler house and workshops seemed a little messy with pigeon poo but are all structurally sound as far as I could see.

The morgue/generator room was stripped out and in all ok condition, seems it'll be retained along with most of the site.

Occupational therapy had been partially demolished with the back section being stripped and the rest being retained for affordable housing, much to my relief!

Basements were untouched in August.

Hearing from UrbanAlex, they sound to have progressed and I personally look forward to the new housing!

The explore

So I visited this on my own a while back in August. Now security back then and was very relaxed. Took about 3-4 hours of my day out to see this and thoroughly enjoyed it, I still think I rushed it and would love to go back. I was on my way to a few other sites in London but this seemed to be the only fully successful explore of the day.

I managed access after confusing some locals and headed straight to the smallest building, the morgue, rather interesting ephemera in there that seemed to explain medical procedures. Sinks all in situ and of course the generator.

Then followed the boiler house, and occupational therapy, didn't stay in the boiler house for long as was eager to get in the occupational therapy for a well deserved mooch (had this site on the list for about 10 months.), nice bit of equipment left, including a piano and some oxygen masks, and was collectively very interesting!

Then I headed to the admin block and wander up the tower to open a nice refreshing can of Monster (that seems to have become tradition with me recently).

Then it was me off and out to check some other sites.

The pictures

Here are the pictures, I'll try and include some new stuff for those who haven't been and hopefully you'll enjoy it!

I'll post them in the order I took them.

Morgue/generator room

This greeted me outside the old morgue, can't quite work it out, but looks to be a body lifter, where the tray would slip onto, if not, it's just a bed...


A lot of people seemed unsure what building the morgue was, well this is it, it's just been stripped


Inside, note the tiled walls and the shadow, left by what was probably, the fridge (could be wrong)


The generator


Occupational therapy

At first, the building look inaccessible and rather secured, but then I went round the corner and entered through the demolished section. Loved the look of this buidling


Old mug :D




Occupational therapy from North


Looking up the staircase


Looking down the staircase


Trolley with equipment


Some nice ol' sinks


Lights in the room with the one way mirror


Pinkish room


The piano


To be continued...​


28DL Regular User
Regular User
East wards

East wards including Pinhey ward (upper) and Monro ward (lower)

Upper corridor


Lower corridor


Pinhey ward (upper level ward)


Female dorm


Staff area


The kitchen


Admin, Pinhey/Monro and the clock tower from South/West






Administration/clock tower

Awesome looking tower, loved going to the top

The admin block with the clock tower from Pinhey


Clock tower from the boiler house


The stair case




Staircase from below


Staircase to the tower


Looking across admin window to window


Fire blanket


Post card with stains


Clock face


Looking North/West


Looking North


Looking West


Looking South onto the site


The hatch


Paint and a window


To be continued once more...



28DL Regular User
Regular User
Boiler house

Boiler house to the left, day care to the right (old dining hall site)


External of the boiler house from East





John Denham and some basement

Here is a shot of The front building, John Denham

From south


A few basement shots



Work house cells?


Just to finish:


There's a lot of photos, but I have a tonne more, if there's anything specific you want to see, let me know and I'll post a few more.

Cheers Rob/Boomstick for encouraging me to actually get this explored! :D One of my favourites for sure and will most likely stay that way.

Hope you enjoyed it. :thumb


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Quality report mate and certainly comprehensive as ever! :thumb

Really did love St Clems so always enjoy seeing new shots. Nice work :)


A life backwards
28DL Full Member
Good report as always :)
You certainly get about...


SWC | Bally up!
Regular User
That's an impressive report for what this place is! Don't think we saw everything when we did, too tired and cold from the night before if I remember correctly.

Good effort.


28DL Regular User
Regular User
That's an impressive report for what this place is! Don't think we saw everything when we did, too tired and cold from the night before if I remember correctly.

Good effort.
I preferred it back in the day when it was a little less derpy, cant even remember what we'd been up to that night... Probaly no good i imagine.

Good pics considering the situation there at the moment.

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