Princess Michael of Kent wing
|Watford General Hospital|
60 Vicarage Road, Watford, Herts WD1 8HB
|1930 - current|
Following the Local Government Act, 1929, the Poor Law Unions and the Boards of Guardians were abolished and all workhouses and their infirmaries came under the control of the local Borough and County Council authorities.
In 1930 the Watford Union workhouse at 60 Vicarage Road was taken over by Watford Borough Council, who renamed it the Shrodells Public Assistance Institution (PAI) ('Shrodells' apparently means 'shrubberies' - many workhouses were renamed when they became PAIs to try to negate the association and stigma of the workhouse). The workhouse had opened in 1838. Its buildings were built of brick, and were mainly two storeys high.
During WW2 Shrodells PAI became part of the Emergency Medical Scheme (EMS), as an Advanced Base for University College Hospital and Charing Cross Hospital. Its 578 bed complement was augmented by 198 EMS beds.
The Institution joined the NHS in 1948 as Shrodell's Hospital. It had 464 general beds. The former workhouse chapel was renamed St Barnabas' chapel (its organ, built by Thomas S Jones & Son, was later transferred to All Saints' Church in South Oxhey).
In 1950 the continuous line of one-storey buildings in front of the administration block was demolished, leaving an open courtyard.
By 1953 the Hospital was linked with the Watford and District Peace memorial Hospital and shared the same consultant staff. It had 419 beds, for mainly chronic patients. In 1958 it had 386 beds for acute and chronic patients.
In 1965 the Hospital merged officially with the Watford and District Peace Memorial Hospital to form the Watford General Hospital. It became the Shrodells Wing with 361 beds. The first of a three-phase major redevelopment plan to upgrade and modernise the Hospital was initiated in the late 1960s. In 1968 the Holywell Hospital became the Holywell Wing of the Watford General Hospital, while the Watford Maternity Hospital in King Street became its Maternity Wing. In 1969 the Shrodells Wing briefly became a geriatric hospital with 356 beds (increased to 477 in 1970).
In 1972 the Shrodells Psychiatric Unit was established. One of the first of its kind, it had 40 beds. However, the redevelopment of the Hospital had ground to a halt, the government first delaying the project and then abandoning it. Phase three of the scheme would have provided a new suite of four operating theatres with its own Sterile Supply Unit. In 1975, some 1,200 residents and workers in the Borough of Watford signed a petition to the government, complaining about the long waiting lists and inadequate facilities at the Hospital. Staff shortages and defunct equipment even meant that the Casualty Department had to be closed some weekends. The Hospital by this time had 544 beds for mainly acute patients.
In 1983 a new £1m Nurses' Home was built on the eastern side of the site by Willow Lane. The U-shaped building was linked in with the existing staff accommodation. It had 60 bed-sitting rooms, 12 family apartments, a Common Room and basement areas.
(Source - Lost Hospitals of London)
In 1986, when the Hospital had 436 beds, the Princess Michael of Kent Wing opened. It housed the Out-Patients Department, wards and various departments, including the Accident and Emergency Department, and increased the bed complement to 536 beds. One member of staff present at the official opening was local resident Mrs Barbara Pearce. Mrs Pearce took a photo of the Princess and soon afterwards sent it to Kensington Palace asking if Her Royal Highness would sign it. She received the following letter, which she has most kindly allowed to be reprinted here, together with the photo she also received by return.
We are indebted to Mrs Barbara Pearce for allowing us to reproduce the letter and photo.