Tree: 1. Essex Ennevers
Notes:Latitude: 51.5347333, Longitude: 0.1485333
Leys Avenue, Rainham Road South, Dagenham RM10 9YL
1899 - 1989
Smallpox. Later, tuberculosis and diseases of the chest, then geriatric.
In 1894, during a smallpox epidemic which had begun the previous year,West Ham County Borough Council purchased the 116-acre Rookery Farm atDagenham for £6,600 as a site for its smallpox hospital.
In October 1896 the Dagenham Parish Council objected to the plans forsuch a hospital, but it was too late - the foundation stone had beenlaid in August, some three months previously.
The Dagenham Smallpox Hospital opened on 25th March 1899. Itconsisted of single-storey brick buildings surrounding a quadrangle. The wards contained 16 beds each, and had windows 6 feet (2metres) from the floor, so all the patients could see was the sky.
In 1911 the Local Government Board issued new regulations which madepulmonary tuberculosis (TB) a notifiable disease. In the sameyear, the National Insurance Actwas passed, which compelled local authorities to establish TBhospitals. It came into operation in July 1912 and gave affectedworkers access to free treatment for the disease.
The West Ham County Borough Council considered their options regardingprovision for the institutional treatment of their TB patients. One of their plans was to purchase a site at Langdon Hills, butthis was considered too far from West Ham (in fact, on a clear day,Southend pier could be seen from it). It was decided thataccommodation should be made available closer at hand, if onlytemporarily. (The Langdon Hills site was later used to build a Sanatorium for Children.)
On the advice of the Medical Officer of Health for the County, in 1912the Dagenham Smallpox Hospital was converted into a TB sanatorium for'Insured Persons under National Insurance'. It was renamed theDagenham Sanatorium (but was also known as the West Ham Sanatorium).
A Resident Medical Officer was appointed, who commenced his duties inApril 1914. By the end of the year, some 190 patients had beenadmitted to the Sanatorium.
During WW1 the Sanatorium was extended with the addition of woodenhuts, each measuring 100 ft by 30 ft (31 metres by 9 metres) andcontaining 26-bedded wards in pairs, which shared a common annexe.
From April 1920 until the end of July 1922 the Sanatorium was closed toTB patients because the buildings had to be reserved for smallpoxpatients (although, after 1902, there had been no further epidemics ofthe disease).
The Dagenham Sanatorium reopened in 1922, and was permanently approved by the Ministry of Health as a 'hospital'.
In 1939, when it had 128 beds, it joined the Emergency Medical Service during WW2.
The Sanatorium joined the NHS in 1948 under the control of the Ilfordand Barking Group Hospital Management Committee, part of the North EastMetropolitan Regional Hospital Board. It consisted of two parts -the original brick buildings and the wooden huts from the WW1 era. All the buildings were single-storey, except for the Nurses' Home.
In 1951, when it had 133 beds, it was renamed Dagenham Hospital, but remained a specialist TB hospital.
A visit by assessors from the King's Fundnoted the lack of facilities. In the wooden hutted wards 5 washbasins were shared by 52 patients, while in each of the brick wards 2 washbasins served 16 patients. One pair of hutted wards had no verandah, andno access to the garden except via a steep flight of 6 steps. Theother pair of hutted wards did have a verandah, which faced south and ontowhich patients could be wheeled in their beds, but it was entirely openand could not be used in inclement weather.
Of the furthest pair of hutted wards, one was derelict and the other hadbeen renovated and converted into a consulting room and a treatmentroom with a steriliser, as well as a Day Room for the patients, withthe necessary ancillary rooms - 2 bathrooms and washrooms with 10basins.
TheHospital covered a wide area, requiring a considerable road system. It did not have an operating theatre, but there was an X-rayDepartment, a dental surgery and an ENT casualty room, a PathologyLaboratory, a dispensary and a cramped kitchen.
In 1952 the Hospital had 137 beds and, in 1953, 129. In1954 there were 155 beds with the average length of stay forin-patients being one year.
By 1957 the average age of the patients on admission had increased, and this more elderly group required more nursing care.
At the end of the 1950s the roads on the site were improved. The furniture and equipment on the wards were renewed and thePathology Laboratory redecorated and re-equipped. The X-rayDepartment was rehoused and new accommodation was built for theresident medical staff.
In 1959 the Hospital had 145 beds for patients with TB andother chest diseases. The demand for TB beds remained high(during 1959 some 206 patients were admitted). The average lengthof stay was 213 days. In 1960 there were 201 admissions for TB,but the extensive use of chemotherapy enabled a marked reduction instay - 160 days on average.
The derelict hut, which had housed the patients' Concert Hall,cinema and chapel, was finally considered unsafe and had to be pulleddown. The other hut nearby, used mainly as a Day Room andbilliards room, was altered to fulfill all the functions.
In January 1960, when the Hospital had 150 beds, a 14-beddedward was converted for use by non-TB cases and, in June, 20 geriatricfemale patients from Chadwell Heath Hospital, which was undergoing alterations, were temporarily accommodated there.
In 1962 the Hospital had 145 beds and, in 1965, 121 beds for patients with diseases of the chest.
By 1970 it had 56 beds for male patients with chest disease and 59 beds for geriatric patients.
Following a major reorganisation of the NHS in 1974, theHospital came under the control of the Redbridge and Waltham ForestArea Health Authority, part of the North East Thames Regional HealthAuthority. It still had 56 beds for males with chest disease, butthe bed complement for geriatric patients had increased to 137.
In 1980 it had become a geriatric hospital with 128 beds for long stay patients.
The Hospital closed in 1989.
Present status (June 2008)
The Hospital buildings were demolished but the site became derelict before being transformed, in 2006, into an extension of the Beam Valley Country Park.
Many of the original trees remain. The Hospital site is reputed to be haunted.