This history of the British Home for Incurables tells the fascinating story of one of our oldest residential nursing homes. The origins of the Home date back to 1861, when at a meeting chaired by Sir William Cubit Lord Mayor of London, a group of businessmen agreed that “an institution be established for the relief of incurable diseases, accident or deformity”. Two years later a Home was opened near Clapham Common to bring their aims into effect. After 30 years the need for a larger building became pressing and it was decided to relocate the Home to purpose-built premises at Streatham. New buildings were erected on Crown Lane, not far from Streatham Common, and were opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales on 3 July 1894.
The original building was designed by Arthur Cawston and cost £22,660. In 1913 the Queen Alexandra Wing was opened at the Hospital. Queen Alexandra was a keen Patron of the Hospital and each year gave £500 to the Home from the proceeds of the Alexandra Rose Day and a number of beds and pensioners were also supported by her. When she died in 1925, the Duchess of York, the late Queen Mother, became Patron of the Hospital and made her last visit to the Home in June 1996 when she opened the new wing built at a cost of £2m to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Hospital’s move to the Norwood area.
This fascinating history is written by Gordon C Cook, Visiting Professor, University College London. In its 232 pages Professor Cook charts the history of this pioneering home and examines the social, political and medical climate under which it has served its residents for almost 150 years. Today, the BHI cares for around 120 people who are chronically sick or severely disabled, providing long-term, short-term and respite care.
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