Report - - St. George's hospital water tower, Hornchurch, Essex, September 2014 | Asylums and Hospitals | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - St. George's hospital water tower, Hornchurch, Essex, September 2014


28DL Regular User
Regular User

The water tower hasn't been done yet as far as I can see and it's pretty nice up there, the whole building is very nice but has been done a few times before so I won't bother with the rest of the site and focus on the tower.

Thanks to Oakley for showing me around and getting me up the tower, I just took the photos. It was great meeting you mate.

I personally like doing a fully thorough report, so if you're easily bored, the photos are at the end :thumb.


The Hornchurch facility was officially opened in 1938 as an old people’s home, called Suttons Institution, but soon played a key role in the Battle of Britain – housing RAF airmen during the Second World War.

www.british-history.ac.uk said this: St. George's hospital, Sutton's Lane, Hornchurch, was built by Essex county council and opened in 1939 as an old people's home called Suttons Institution. (fn. 152) During the Second World War it was used to house airmen from R.A.F. Hornchurch. In 1948 it was taken over by the Ministry of Health as a hospital and was given its present name. It has over 400 beds, used mainly for geriatric cases. The Ingrebourne Centre, which is an independent part of the hospital, provides psychiatric treatment for 20 resident and many day patients.

In 1948 the Sutton’s Lane building was renamed St George’s and turned into a hospital. At this time it had 700 beds.

In July 1952 a Neurosis Unit with 20 beds was established at the Hospital in what had previously been the Observation Ward for Warley Hospital. In 1956 this Unit became independent of Warley Hospital and was renamed the Ingrebourne Centre (after the stream running through the grounds).

In 1957 the Hospital had 424 beds.

By 1964 it contained mainly elderly patients with an average age of 80 years, and some considerably older needing greater nursing care. The Hospital was seriously understaffed, despite efforts to recruit more nurses. Some 329 chronic and aged patients were cared for by 30 full-time and 15 part-time staff (an improvement on the previous year, with 28 full-time and 19 part-time staff).

In 1967 there were 422 beds for chronically sick patients and dermatological and neurosis cases.

In 1972 the Hospital had 384 beds for the chronically sick, dermatological and physical medicine patients, as well as neurosis cases.

Following a major reorganisation of the NHS in 1974, control of the Hospital passed to the Barking and Havering Area Health Authority, part of the North East Thames Regional Health Authority.

By 1984 the Hospital had 318 beds and was under the control of the Barking, Havering and Brentwood District Health Authority.

In 1991, following another major NHS reg organisation and the introduction of the 'market' system, the Hospital came under the control of the North East London Foundation Trust. It offered respiratory, physiotherapy, heart and stroke services, and in-patient rehabilitation services.

By the end of the 1990s the Hospital was under the threat of closure, with a proposal to sell the site for housing.

In 2003 the Trust cut the bed complement from 180 intermediate and long-term care beds to 60, for patients recovering from serious conditions, such as strokes or falls.

The future of the site was a live issue since at least 2005, when a consultation was launched on whether to refurbish, redevelop or close the hospital.

The number of patients being admitted fell that year and bosses considered closing one of the hospital’s four wards.

A campaign, led by the then Hornchurch MP James Brokenshire, was organised to halt the closure of St George’s. The consultation was put on hold while the government altered health policy.

In 2007, the then head of nursing at the hospital, Lynne Swiatczak, said that the facilities were “not suitable for the care of adults†– and Havering Primary Care Trust clarified that only a rebuild would ensure that the facilities would remain up to the standard that patients expect.

But the Recorder recently learnt that only two full building inspections have been carried out at the site in the last 10 years – in 2001 and 2008.

In 2009, health chiefs paid about £100,000 for plans for a new high-tech building on the same site and another consultation was launched.

Chas Hollwey, then chief executive of NHS Havering, said: “The old hospital is an important historical landmark which is held in great affection,†while adding that the building could not remain in its current state.

The £100,000 plans were not acted on and NHS Havering was subsequently abolished and the consultation shelved.

Inpatients from St George’s two wards were due to be moved out of the hospital in mid-November, with outpatient services remaining.

However, the discovery of Legionella bacteria has now left the hospital lying empty.

History thanks to:

The future of the Hospital is still uncertain.

In August 2012 the Trust announced that despite problems with the building, it was intending to redevelop the site and create a new purpose-built health centre.

In October 2012 the wards had to be closed because legionella was discovered in the Hospital's water system. The 44 patients were transferred elsewhere - some to the Brentwood Community Hospital, others to Grays Court in Dagenham, while some were able to be discharged. The Out-Patients Department also closed and the Hospital has never reopened.

In July 2013 discussions were held with the Havering Clinical Commissioning Group, now the owners of the site after another major NHS reorganisation, as to the possibility of its redevelopment, with part being used for a health centre.

The site has slowly been stripped of most of it's equipment, doorframes, doors, furniture, patient memories and some paint. All wiring has gone and fully stripped. Most likely by the owners as it seems to have been removed and not ripped out.

On our visit we noticed a few new cameras, sensors and a few new and very recent signs stating to keep out as demolition/dismantling work has begun. There was no evidence of this inside, but the signs looked pretty fresh so this could well be the future of the site.

This was taken from a report on the future of the site in October last year (2013):

Hornchurch could be robbed of its promised multi-million pound health complex.

The GPs in charge of commissioning Havering’s health services have been told they no longer have the power to propose a building development on the St George’s Hospital site – because they don’t own it any more.

Instead, they must show a clinical need for the services – and councillors aren’t sure one exists.

“All the services they are proposing could easily go into health centres,†said Cllr Nic Dodin, vice- chairman of Havering Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee. “NHS England would be right to refuse the proposal.â€

As part of this year’s NHS reorganisation, which involved GPs taking over commissioning on April 1, St George’s and its estate in Suttons Lane are now in the hands of NHS England.

That means if the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) can’t convince NHS England that there is a clinical need for the site, it could be sold in its entirety.

If this happens, the money won’t go back into Havering, as would have been the case before April, but into a central pot.

The CCG is confident it can reach an agreement with NHS England that will look similar to its original plans. But with local GP practices muted in their enthusiasm for moving to the new site, it may face an uphill battle.

A spokesman for Havering Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are confident that our original plans for a centre of excellence on part of the St George’s site remain valid and that they represent the best way of providing much needed, joined up health services, particularly for older people in Havering.

“We continue to work hard to make the case for the new facility – that hasn’t changed – and are progressing with our plans.

“What has changed is simply the way the government now funds these projects. Basically, all property previously owned by PCTs has transferred to a new central body called NHS Property Services.â€


Present state of the site

The site has been stripped of almost everything, luckily the mortuary fridges are still most in tack and present, the autopsy slab had been ripped and smashed a year ago.

All furniture, wiring and equipment has now been stripped and removed.

There isn't any signs of metal thievery as roofs and wiring seems to be either in tack or untouched. The buildings themselves are in good condition and there seems to be no subsidence, cracking or natural damage, it'd be a shame if the site was flattened, especially the art deco water tower, hall and administration building.

60% of the windows had been replaced with newer once, not in any particular order, just random windows and some frames didn't even have windows as if part way through being replaced, this seemed a bit strange as there clearly wasn't any construction work going on.

The boilers are now gone and probably sold for scrap.


Thanks to Oakley access was easy and the explore was very relaxed.

Except when we were in the hall, we were about to continue down the long corridor from the hall but just as we walked out from the hall we saw a high vis security guy walking up, luckily he was looking up as he was only about 20 feet from us, we immediately ducked and ran into a room. He then proceeded to unlock and open a door and repeatedly slam it. Assuming he was just trying to scare us we laid low for around 15 minutes before getting bored and sneaking around trying to get a visual on the guy but he'd just vanished. Very confused we continued on and as we were in a separate building we spotted a different guy in a white shirt just starring at the main building standing in the wide open, even more confused we continued further into the morgue, water tower and boiler house.

On our way out we just walked across the grounds and saw no one, although we found that our access point had been poorly closed. This must have been the laziest effort at security I have ever seen. But I'm not complaining.

The photos

Here are the photos of the water tower, if you'd like to see the rest of the site then please take a look at these reports:




A few externals, love the architecture and art deco looks of the whole site, but the water tower looks best in my opinion.




The staircase inside the tower


Flooded room, probably something to do with the boiler or waterworks.


A few stray parts on one of the floors.


A pic left of the tower from a lower level


A pic right of the tower from a lower level


On top of the tower:

Looking West onto the grounds and main buildings


Looking North onto the mortuary, maintenance department and a ward


The incinerator chimney from the top of the tower


Looking South-West from the tower towards central London, note the HSBC building in the distance


Looking North-West over the long corridor and towards one of the wards.


Looking West


Thanks for looking and again, Thanks to Oakley for helping me out.

I took my film camera and used a few shots on this site, I'll scan them and post them once they're developed.

I also took around 350 other pics of the site, so if there's anything particular you'd like to see, please let me know. I also got into some of the tunnels, other wards, workshops and the incinerator (and haven't seen that on reports before) Thanks again.​


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Awesome, nice to see the parts we didn't have time to explore.
Nice pics, can't wait to go back
Last edited:


28DL Maverick
28DL Full Member
Good stuff mate cheers for sharing :thumb would be interesting to see the tunnels & incinerator ;) need to see this one at some point when am able & can be arsed dragging myself down south.


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Good stuff mate cheers for sharing :thumb would be interesting to see the tunnels & incinerator ;) need to see this one at some point when am able & can be arsed dragging myself down south.
Won't be there for long I don't reckon, it's not the best site in the world as it's been stripped but a few parts are really ace in my opinion. I'll get a few pics of the incinerator and tunnels up later on.

Thanks for the feedback :)


28DL Maverick
28DL Full Member
Won't be there for long I don't reckon, it's not the best site in the world as it's been stripped but a few parts are really ace in my opinion. I'll get a few pics of the incinerator and tunnels up later on.

Thanks for the feedback :)
You're welcome mate, can't beat a decent sized hospital imo regardless what state it's in & this place looks pretty big.

Idle Hands

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Blimey... you really do like a thorough report :D

Made for an interesting read and your pictures are good too :thumb


28DL Regular User
Regular User
You're welcome mate, can't beat a decent sized hospital imo regardless what state it's in & this place looks pretty big.
Cheers mate, exactly what i think, as long as it's got a morgue or a tower i'm happy haha :thumb

St George's is pretty big actually, there's an insanely long corridor in it as well looks awesome.


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Blimey... you really do like a thorough report :D

Made for an interesting read and your pictures are good too :thumb
Cheers mate, appreciate it, I enjoy spending some time researching a site to getting to know it, and so I like to add it to my reports :)


Authorised Trespasser
28DL Full Member
Nice shots mate :thumb


28DL Regular User
Regular User
The incinerator

All right, so ages ago I got a request to see the incinerator at this place, and i did get a few photos so I thought I'd get round to it one day, but WildBoyz mentioned it and thought I'd actually get round to adding them rather than doing a new report.

Not much to see, but hasn't featured on 28DL and, I believe, anywhere on the interwebs as of yet. So enjoy.

It's rather an interesting part of the site for sure as it's an incinerator, it's be used to dispose of medical waste which is deemed a biological hazard once used. This would include needles, syringes, plasters, you name it.

However, here's a rather odd story I've found, unrelated but interesting none the less... (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-412172/Hospital-admits-burning-aborted-babies-waste-incinerator.html)

Anyway, enjoy the pictures despite the poor quality! Too much glare and high ISO, camera phone again :rolleyes: :thumb

The chimney incinerator and main incinerator


Hmm, ash left in.


A small hatch


Another hatche with some annoying glare...




Controls and things



Labels for directions on use.


No idea why I've posted so many poor quality pictures, enjoy if that's how you roll.

Also, here's a heads up if you're planning on visiting, service tunnels!