Royal Brompton Hospital

Royal Brompton Hospital

Infobox Hospital
Name = The Royal Brompton Hospital
Org/Group = Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust

Caption =

Location = Brompton, Kensington,
Region = London
State = England
Country = UK
HealthCare = NHS
Type = Specialist
Speciality = Heart and lung hospital
Emergency = No
Affiliation= Imperial College London
Beds =
Founded = 1847
Closed =
Website = Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust
Wiki-Links = |

The Royal Brompton Hospital, commonly known as The Brompton, is a specialist heart and lung hospital in Brompton, London. It is part of the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust. It is also the main hospital for allergy testing in London.

Consumption in the 19th Century

In the 19th century, consumption was a common word for tuberculosis. At the time consumptive patients were turned away from other hospitals as there was no known cure. Hospitals that dealt with such infectious diseases later came to be known as sanatoriums. The prospectus for the Hospital stated that for the last 6 months of 1837 out 148,701 deaths from all causes, 27,754 were from consumption.

The Beginning

The hospital was founded in the 1840s by Philip Rose, the first meeting to establish the Hospital was on 8 March 1841. It was to be known as "The Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest". It amalgamated on 25 May 1841 with "The West London Dispensary for Diseases of the Chest", which was based at 83 Wells Street, near Oxford Street. Little is now known about the Dispensary. On 28 March 1842, an out-patients branch of the hospital was opened at 20 Great Marlborough Street. Later that year they acquired a lease on their first building for in-patients at The Manor House, Chelsea, which held space for 20 beds and the first in-patients were admitted on 13 September 1842. Admittance was to be by the then customary method of recommendation by the Governors and subscribers. Manor House remained in use as a convalescence home after the hospital had moved to the Brompton site.


In common with other hospitals at the time, the hospital was to be financed entirely from charitable donations, legacies and fund raising. Rose travelled the country to explain the aims of the hospital, setting up 14 provincial associations, 157 churches promised to preach special sermons as a means of fund raising. The famous singer, Jenny Lind also gave concerts, including one at Her Majesty's Theatre in July 1848, which raised £1,606.

Besides Philip Rose, the early supporters included William Augustus Guy, Charles Dickens, and Queen Victoria, who became a patron, with an annual subscription of £10.

The move to Brompton

The area known as Brompton was no more than a village surrounded by market gardens, but quickly developed in the 1840s. The hospital acquired a market garden site there from a charity to erect a new hospital, with the architect being Frederick John Francis. The stone laying for the west wing was on 11 June 1844 by Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, the building being described as a beautiful Elizabethan building with red brick and blue diapering with Portland stone mouldings. One of the features of the building was the inclusion of ventilation by forced warm air in an attempt to create a temperature more commonly found in more southern latitudes. Originally the power for the ventilation system was supplied by two Chelsea Pensioners, but was soon replaced by a steam engine. The total cost for the west wing and part of the centre was £11,762. The first admission of patients was in 1847. Whilst the east wing was completed in 1849.

The hospital acquired houses on the south side of the Brompton Road in 1868 with a plan to connect to the main building with a tunnel, which was completed in 1873. The hospital continued to purchase houses on the south side and eventually developed the site to become the south block of the Brompton, which was formerly opened by the President of the Corporation, The Earl of Derby on 13 June 1882. The building was in an "E" shape and constructed of red brick and Ancaster stone. The basement contained a compressed air room (which was considered beneficial to tuberculosis sufferers at the time), Turkish baths and store rooms. There were also facilities for a large outpatients department, rooms for resident staff and a lecture room and ten wards holding from 1 to 8 beds. The total cost was said to be £65,976.


On 13 September 1900 the Hospital acquired 20 acres of planted forestry at Chobham Ridge (which is 400 feet above sea level), two miles from Frimley Railway Station for £3,900. The architect, Edwin T Hall, designed a two-storied stellate block, rising to three-stories for the centre, the four radial pavilions would contain the majority of wards, most of which would be single bedded and the ability to wheel the beds onto a terrace to "be under the full influence of the sunshine and the atmosphere." A second group of buildings was to contain dining rooms, recreation rooms, kitchens and offices and accommodation for medical staff. Besides accommodation for staff, 2 houses and a nurses block, no further buildings were erected on the site until it's closure in 1985.

The formal opening of the sanatorium was on 25 June 1904 with the ceremony performed by the Prince of Wales (later King George V), but because of unresolved problems regarding heating, plumbing and staff the first patients weren’t admitted until March 1905.

Marcus Paterson, who had been a house physician at the Brompton from 1901, accepted a post at Frimley in 1905, becoming the Medical Superintendent in January 1906. Paterson was known to say, “it would make them (the patients) more resistant to the disease by improving their physical condition.” To this end he introduced what was one of the first attempts at systematic rehabilitation. This involved anything from the patients making their own beds, walking, and, by the summer of 1906 the patients were used as the main source of labour. This included building a reservoir capable of holding 500 gallons. In 1911 Paterson reported that during the previous 6 years over £10,000 had been saved this way.

At an International Congress on Tuberculosis held in 1908 in Washington, USA the $1,000 first prize was shared between Frimley, for a model of the sanatorium, which had partly been made by patients, and an American institution,. Further awards of $500 went to Paterson for his essay on Frimley and $1,000 to Arthur Latham, an assistant-physician at The Brompton for his paper on the treatment of more advanced cases of tuberculosis.

Other sites


In 1850 The Medical Committee decided to build a small sanatorium in Bournemouth, to be financially independent, to "receive those cases where convalescence has been established." Although more of a convalescent home, rather than a sanatorium as the word was understood later, it was the first of any such establishment anywhere in the world. It was specially built, the architect being E B Lamb, who had previously built the chapel attached to the Hospital in Brompton Road. The sanatorium opened in October 1855. Later to become independent of the hosptial and known as "The Royal National Sanatorium : Bournemouth". The site has now been re-developed into a retirement complex known as "Brompton Court," but the chapel has been retained.


The Hospital paid for the passage of 20 patients with tuberculosis to be taken to Madeira on the ship, Maria Pia, which set sail on the 7 November 1864. When the patients returned some months later it was discerned that there had been no noticeable improvement in the patients and the experiment was discontinued.


Towards the end of the 19th Century the idea that sea air could be beneficial grew in popularity in medical circles and the Hospital, with help from the London Samaritan Society sent people to Bournemouth and Sandgate. This was discontinued in 1900 with the future development at Frimley in mind.

Hayling Island

The hospital erected a hut at St. Andrew's Home, Hayling Island in 1922, to receive "the most miserable, undersized and debilitated children" attending the dispensary, 37 children were sent the first year. The children were chosen from the poorest homes, no lessons were given but "organised games and eurythmics" were the order of the day. Later another hut was built for children not living in Chelsea. St. Andrew's Home closed in 1932.


The Seven Ages of The Brompton (A Saga of a Hospital) by P. J. Bishop, B. D. B. Lucas And B. G. B Lucas. Published by the Board of Governors, Royal Brompton National Heart and Lung Hospitals, 1991. ISBN 0950666939

Famous physicians and nurses associated with The Brompton

*James Laidlaw Maxwell, Physician
*John Scott Burdon-Sanderson, Physician
*R. F. Patrick Cronin Cardiologist
*Sir William Fergusson, FRS, Consulting Surgeon, 1843-1876
*Malcolm Green (physician)
*Sir Richard Quain, Physician, 1848-1855
*Robert Knox, Physician, 1856-1862
*Sir Joseph (later Lord) Lister, Consulting-Surgeon, 1891-1912
*Ivan Magill, anaesthetist, 1921-
*David Southall paediatrician
*Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister, Athlete and neurologist, Junior member of staff at the hospital.
*Sandy Denny, (singer, started to train as a nurse mid- 1960s)
*Dr. Shibley Rahman, Physician and stalker of Abi Titmuss

External links

* [ Research & Development in Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust]
* [ Royal Brompton's Department of Occupational and Environmental Lung Disease]
* [ 19th Century Newspaper quotes about Brompton Consumption Hospital.]
* [ British history online entry]

Legislation relating to The Brompton Hospital

* [ Statutory Instrument 1994 No. 402 - The Royal Brompton Hospital NHS Establishment) Order 1994]
* [ Statutory Instrument 1998 No. 783 The Dissolution of the Royal Brompton Hospital NHS Trust and the Harefield Hospital NHS Trust Order 1998]

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