Our Public Services team reveal some of the secrets of London Metropolitan Archives' very own Oracle, and ask you to help it grow.
Oracle is an information database compiled by LMA's Public Services team for the use of all staff. It is a computerised card index containing pieces of information that may be useful to staff in answering enquiries from the public, preparing exhibitions and more. In addition to data from LMA, Oracle also includes information from the former Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section's Notes and Queries index and related exhibitions database. Currently Oracle has around 3,000 entries, but it wants to grow. It needs your contributions. This can be any information, in any format.
Examples of material that we have and look for include: references to famous people in the archives, entries about particular themes or topics, relevant information about other archives and their holdings, addresses of institutions, books or journals of use for background and further reading, links to useful websites, events, places, contemporary terminology that people may have come across, and old occupations that may not be familiar.
Following the abolition of the London County Council (LCC) in 1965, the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) was formed to run education in the 12 inner London boroughs and the City of London. Responsible for a large number of nursery, primary and secondary schools, it also managed two boarding schools outside London, a summer camp, two rural centres, and an education welfare service.
In its early days, ILEA enjoyed a relatively high budget and so decided to develop a television service that would provide educational programmes made specifically for its schools. Between 1968 and 1970 the new service was run out of Highbury while the main studio in Battersea was being prepared (an old school on Thackeray Road). When operational, the studio at Battersea had three main areas - the studio block, production block and later publishing block, and the site included props storage, and a make-up and rehearsal room.
Programmes were sent via a closed-circuit network, installed and maintained by the Post Office. Cables ran to each of the schools for which ILEA was responsible (later, delivery would alter to video tapes). Television sets were provided, for which teachers could switch to Channel 2, 3 and 4 for ILEA or 7, 8 and 9 for BBC and ITV.
The different titles made by ILEA varied in content and reflected not only the mainstream subjects taught in school such as maths, science and history, but also topics that explored elements of youth culture, general community life and the different social issues facing London's growing population.
Largely aimed at pupils, teachers would be supplied with notes to accompany each film including times when it would air, background information and questions that might be useful in class.
LMA holds over 1,700 ILEA titles, around 10% of which have been digitised, with many now available to view on any of the ten terminals (and big screen) in our Mediatheque viewing area. Those selected showcase a range of original content, including footage of London during the 1960s and 70s offering an amazing impression of the city’s topography, architecture and general infrastructure. Titles include “Looking at London”, “London Past and Present” and “Unfamiliar London”, and include landmarks such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, the House of Commons and more. You can also see some of these films on LMA’s YouTube channel .
In addition to the various locations shot, interviews were filmed with local characters such as Pearly Queens, market stall owners and some more unusual occupations such as river divers, providing a useful insight into the people, interests and working life of Londoners during this period.
The index to the City of London Freedoms from 1940 to the present day is held at the Chamberlains Department. Contact: Clerk of the Chamberlain's Court, P.O. Box 270, Guildhall, London EC2P 2EJ.
The main sources for Trinity House lighthouse keepers and staff that worked as part of the light vessel service are explained in detail in LMA’s Information Leaflet The Corporation of Trinity House. There is also a useful website of collated data from the census giving a record of lighthouse keepers working across England, Wales and the Channel Islands, which enquirers may find helpful.
We know that there were a small number of foreign lighthouses that were staffed by Trinity House personnel. These comprise Cape Pembroke in the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, and Basses in Ceylon. We would suggest enquirers try the standard sources, as described in the leaflet above, to find information about these staff.
These staff records, held by Transport for London (TfL), date from the opening of the earliest underground line, the Metropolitan line, in 1863, and cover underground, bus, tram and some clerical staff. The staff records are primarily found in registers, with varying amounts of information contained therein. While some provide quite extensive information, including the height of the employee, disciplinary issues, pay and previous position details, others contain no more than a name, date of commencement of service and a badge number. Read more on the Ancestry blog
Barnardo's children remembered
An article in the Standard evening newspaper of 5 December 2016 shone a light on a new monument to more than 500 deprived children buried in unmarked graves recently unveiled in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, east London. The two-metre-high Portland stone memorial depicts a pair of hands releasing a sparrow. Hundreds of Barnardo's children were buried in the cemetery between 1876 and 1924. Thomas Barnardo, who founded the first of his charity's homes in 1867, buried three of his own children - Tom, Herbert and Kenward – there. Although all of the children were given proper burials, the charity could not afford headstones. The article told how Jean Clark, who was helped by Barnardo's as a child, raised the £10,000 to pay for the sculpture. She said "As someone who grew up in Barnardo's care, I regard them as my brothers and sisters and wanted to ensure their lives are recognised." The article can be viewed on the Evening Standard website.
London Metropolitan Archives holds a variety of records relating to The City of London and Tower Hamlets Cemetery. Please see our Cemetery Records leaflet for more information.
Often quoted as a prime example of the Brutalist school of architecture, Balfron Tower is a 26-storey residential building in Poplar. It forms part of the Brownfield Estate, an area of social housing between Chrisp Street Market and the Blackwall Tunnel. It was designed by Ernő Goldfinger in 1963 for the London County Council (LCC), built 1965–7 by the Greater London Council (GLC), and has been a Grade II listed building since 1996.
GLC minutes and presented papers held by LMA showed that tenders for the building were received in July 1965, with building commencing soon after. It was officially opened on 22 February 1968 at 11am by Sir Desmond Plummer, Leader of the GLC.
Goldfinger lived on the top floor with his family for the first few months in order to compile a report about what his experiences of the building were like, to find out things that needed to be fixed and improved for both the building itself and designs of future buildings.
The building has been the subject of some controversy in recent years as council tenants have made way for redevelopment into luxury flats.
Images of the Brownfield Estate, can be found on our Collage - The London Picture Archive website.
Scouting for famous names in the archives
Did you know that LMA has the baptism entry for Lord Robert Baden-Powell, probably best known as the founder of the Scout Movement? He was baptised Robert Stephenson Smyth Powell on 8 July 1857 at the church of Saint James, Sussex Gardens, Paddington (P87/JS/010). The register can also be viewed on the Ancestry website.
Oldest Japanese martial arts club in Europe
Budokwai (The Way of Knighthood Society) is the oldest Japanese martial arts club in Europe. It was founded in 1918 by Gunji Koizumi and initially offered tuition in jujutsu, kendo, and other Japanese arts. It was the first Judo club in Europe with membership open to the general public. On 26 January 1918, Gunji Koizumi opened the Dojo at 15 Lower Grosvenor Place, Victoria, London SW1. The first chief instructor was Yukio Tani. In July 1920, Dr. Jigoro Kano (the founder of Judo) visited the Budokwai. A member named Tanabe received his first Dan, becoming the Budokwai's first home-grown black belt. After thirty five years, the Budokwai moved to 4 Gilston Road, South Kensington, London, SW10 9SL. The new premises were officially opened in September 1954 by the then Japanese Ambassador. The Budokwai club is the longest continuously running Judo Club in Europe.
Who was John Burns?
LMA holds the personal library and papers of John Burns (see note in archive catalogue under ACC/2337). Other material relating to John Burns is held elsewhere including the John Burns Collection of printed material in the Senate House Library at the University of London.at the University of London.
John Elliott Burns was born in Lambeth, London in 1858, the sixteenth child of a poor family. He was a radical trade unionist and politician, particularly associated with London politics. He was apprenticed to an engineer, but attended night schools and read radical literature, becoming involved in the socialist Social Democratic Federation (SDF). In 1889 he won a seat on the London County Council, for Battersea, standing as a Progressive. He soon became a dominant figure in the Council, due to his hard work and powerful personality. In 1892 he was elected MP for Battersea, standing as an independent candidate. In 1905 he was offered the presidency of the Local Government Board, the first working man to achieve rank in the Cabinet. He resigned from the Government in 1914 in protest at the First World War. An avid collector, he developed an expertise in London history, coining the phrase "The Thames is liquid history". Cricket was another of his big interests, being a regular at The Oval and Lord's, and he actually sustained severe injuries being hit in the face by a cricket ball while watching a match in 1894. He died in 1943 and was buried in St Mary's Cemetery, Battersea Rise.
There is a useful biography of the man online at the Spartacus Educational website.
Fans of the BBC (soon to be C4) TV programme ‘Great British Bake Off' may be interested in articles on Chelsea Buns and the Old Chelsea Bun House. These are within reference SC/PD/UC/02/08 (part of the John Burns Collection), a folder of newspaper cuttings relating to Chelsea which focuses on Ranelagh and Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and the area of Cheyne Walk.
Map showing London family estates
In the back of the book 'Street Names of London' by Gillian Bebbington there is a map which shows which areas and streets were within these estates. This has our library reference R64.41 BEB.
Searching in the archives you occasionally come across some pretty ‘random' items. In the large collection of records that we hold for the Metropolitan Water Board there are permits for bat-watching (ACC/2558/MW/C/9/191, 1967-68) and for exercising ferrets (ACC/2558/MW/C/9/195, 1973)!
George Eliot's house
SC/PZ/SM/01/170 is a printed photograph of George Eliot's house at The Priory, 21 North Bank, Regents Park. George Eliot lived here between 1864 and 1880 with George Henry Lewes until her marriage to John Cross, seven months before her death. The Priory is closely associated with the writing of Felix Holt, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. She held her famous Sunday "at homes" here which were attended by most of the literary celebrities of the time.
The Lost Hospitals of London website
The Lost Hospitals of London website is an extremely useful and apparently well-researched website of closed London hospitals, often with lots of information on the foundation of hospitals, hospital mergers, subsequent site redevelopments, etc. There are also a good number of photographs of what the hospitals look like 'now'.
Royal School of Music, Eastney
LMA holds the records of the T.S (Training Ship) Exmouth, which was moored off Grays, Essex. Boys joined the ship from the age of twelve. Their first task was to learn how to mend and patch their own clothes. They also had to learn how to wash their clothes, and keep their lockers and contents in good order. Each boy had his own hammock which was stowed during the day, leaving the decks clear of bedding. As well as learning the skills of sailing, rowing, sail and rope-making, gunnery, and signalling, they continued ordinary school work, and other physical activities such as swimming and gymnastics. The ship had its own band and bugle-band and musical ability was fostered. Often in the Record Books (MAB/2512) you may find the discharge to 'Royal School of Music, Eastney' which was also known as 'The Royal Naval School of Music'. That was formed at Eastney Barracks, Portsmouth (the current Royal Marines Museum location) in 1903 when the Royal Navy passed responsibility to the Royal Marines for training and providing ship's bands. Every major British ship carried a Royal Marines Band who had a military as well as a musical role. The Royal Naval School of Music at Eastney trained bands that were sent on board battleships and cruisers. The musicians had to play orchestral and military band instruments and also had to play as a dance band. These bands had a military role which was to work in the Transmitting Stations - the heart of the ships gunnery control system. As this apparatus was located in the bowels of the ship escape was very difficult and they suffered very high casualties. During the First World War forty-nine musicians were killed at the Battle of Jutland alone.
Assassination of PM Spencer Perceval
The inquest into the death of Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister, who was shot in the lobby of the House of Commons on 11 May 1812 can be found on the Middlesex Sessions Roll for Gaol Delivery for 13 May 1812 together with the record of the trial of his murderer, John Bellingham (OB/SR/452 no.23). The inquest was held at the Rose and Crown in Downing Street on the following day.
The birth of speedway
It is generally held that the first ever speedway meeting in Britain took place on 19 February 1928 behind the King's Oak pub/hotel at High Beech, Loughton, Essex. LMA has photos of King's Oak Speedway one of which is dated on that very day (CLA/077/G/34/072). The others (CLA/077/G/34/035-038) are not dated, but appear to be either late 1920s or early 1930s. Speedway racing or/and training took place at the site on and off until 1967-8.
The same photograph album also contains pictures of other locations around Epping Forest such as Chingford Plains, Connaught Waters, and small yachts on Higham's Park Lake.
The first Visitors' Book of Queen Mary's Hospital Roehampton begins with the signature of King George V (H02/QM/Y/02/001).
The hospital was set up during the course of World War One in response to the enormous numbers of wounded soldiers being sent back from the Front to English hospitals, and the resulting strain on the medical system. It treated men whose wounded limbs required amputation.
A note on civil registration compulsion
Between 1837 (when civil registration was introduced) and 1874 there was no penalty for not registering a birth or a death so records from this period are almost certainly incomplete. Parents were not bound to give birth information unless requested by the Registrar. Some were not truthful about the date of birth, as they had to pay if the registration was more than 6 weeks after the birth. Some parents thought baptism was a legal alternative.
The Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1874 (Act of 37 & 38 Victoria, Chapter 88) made registration compulsory. The onus for registration of a birth was passed to the parents, or the occupier of the house where a birth took place. The birth had to be registered within 42 days or a £2 fine was imposed. It still remained a common belief that baptism registered the birth, also if the parents ran out of time they would either lie about the date of birth or simply not register and hope not to get caught.
A sporting legend
The Crystal Palace collection contains agreements with the County of London Cricket Club referring to cricket icon W.G. Grace (CPT/49/A and CPT/49/B).
LMA has a VioIin Maker's Map of London 1650-1850 compiled by Jillian Firth, London College of Furniture ca. 1979 (SC/GL/VIO/002) It indicates the sites of violin-makers premises in London, Westminster and Southwark between 1650 and 1850.
London Fire Brigade Museum
The website of the LFB Museum says that the Museum will be closed from September 2015 and will be moved back to its original location at the listed former LFB HQ on Albert Embankment. "It is estimated it could take between three and five years until the new museum opens but plans are being developed that will ensure there are still opportunities for the public to view the Brigade's historic collection, such as temporary exhibitions, school visits and special lectures." If you are a relative or an ex-employee interested in service history information, LFB Records Services' email address is email@example.com
LMA has the records of many of the mental health hospitals (formerly known as 'lunatic asylums') for the London and Middlesex area. A new set of records is now viewable on www.ancestry.co.uk which complements our collections. It comprises the Lunacy Registers and Warrants 1820-1912 held at The National Archives relating to criminal lunatics. Each entry contains the patient's name, institution name, admission date, death/ discharge date and - in many cases - the reason for being transferred to the institution and past crimes committed.
Chartist Ancestors website
The www.chartists.net website has a host of information concerning the Chartist movement of the mid-nineteenth century, and the individuals involved in it, including lists of delegates at conferences, lists of those arrested and transported and subscribers to Chartist publications. If you think you have Chartist ancestors it's worth taking a look.
007 at LMA
With the release of the new James Bond film 'Spectre', it is a suitable time to point out that LMA has the baptism record of actor Roger Moore. He was baptised at St Stephen, South Lambeth on 18 December 1927. This can be seen on our microfilm reference X096/338.
John Henry Newman (21 February 1801- 11 August 1890) or Cardinal Newman was an important figure in the religious history of nineteenth century England. He was a Church of England priest and the leader of the Oxford Movement which wanted to restore to the Church of England many Catholic beliefs and rituals. In 1845, however, he switched from the Church of England to Roman Catholicism. More recently, Newman's beatification was officially proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 during his visit to the UK. LMA has his baptism record as he was baptised at Saint Benet Fink in the City of London on the 9 April 1801. This can be viewed on our microfilm reference MS04099 and on www.ancestry.co.uk
Photographs of London pubs
For photographs of pubs in London, Middlesex and environs there are three main places to look in the records at LMA:
Jones-Jones collection (LMA/4473). This contains 14,614 images of around 6,300 exterior views of public houses and their signs taken by amateur enthusiast(s), 1970-92. The repackaging of the photographs was completed in March 2007 by volunteers. At the same time all of the pubs were indexed, noting down the name of the pub, the brewery which owned them (if applicable) and the address of the pub. The photos were removed from their original binders (which were not archivally sound) and put into polyester sleeves. The volunteers spent a total of 621.5 hours working on the project. It was named the Jones-Jones Collection following the suggestion made by the donor Michael Jones of Witham, Essex. It is organised by postcode, so, for example, for postcodes E17, E4, E10 and E11 the volume references are LMA/4473/005, 007 and 010.
LMA's main Photograph Library collection, inherited from the London County Council and Greater London Council (reference code SC/PHL).
LMA also has a rich collection of records of various London-based breweries such as Whitbread, Courage, Truman and Watney's (among others). Some of these breweries' records include photographs of pubs in their ownership. Search under name of brewery or generally for "brewery" on the LMA online catalogue.
Baptism of 'Monty'
WW2 'Spartan General' Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein was baptised at St Mark Kennington on 15 January 1888. LMA holds the parish register (P85/MRK/010) and the entry can be viewed on the Ancestry website.
Oscar Wilde in prison
On 25 May 1895 Oscar Wilde was convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to two years' hard labour. There is an entry for Oscar Wilde on 4 July 1895 in the Wandsworth Prison Register of Nominal Admissions (ACC/3444/PR/01/070). This shows that he was transferred from Pentonville. The offence is recorded as 'Mis'. He was subsequently transferred to Reading Prison.
University of Bristol Library Special Collections holds an extensive collection of over 30,000 election addresses for every British General Election since 1892, and subsequent by-elections. The collection was originally established by the National Liberal Club and has been maintained by the University Library since the mid-1970s. It includes addresses from London County Council elections held between 1889 and 1913, and European Parliament elections from 1979 to date. The Library collects materials relating to the whole of the British Isles.
Irish Catholic parish registers online
Nearly 400,000 Irish Catholic parish records are being made publicly accessible via a new genealogy resource website launched on 8 July 2015. The records held by the National Library of Ireland, which date from the 1740s to the 1880s, will be available free online. The digital images of the registers will be searchable by parish location only, and will not be transcribed or indexed.
Box of delights
ACC/2417/N/006/004 is a box of photographs in the London Labour Party collection which show scenes from the Second World War Home Front and reconstruction plans. The photos are of much more general interest than the file title description implies. Really it's a box of miscellaneous photographs depicting bomb damage, ARP, ambulance activity, children, workmen, and life 'carrying on'.
Famous visitors: Charles Dickens
St. Luke's Hospital was founded in 1751 to provide free care to the impoverished mentally ill. Such was the reputation of St Luke's Hospital that it was much visited; visitors came as far afield as Europe and the United States. The comments of these visitors from 1829 to 1891 were recorded in a visitors book (H64/A/10/003). One regular visitor was Charles Dickens who wrote after a visit on 15 January 1858: 'Much delighted with the great improvements in the hospital under many difficulties, and with the excellent demeanour of the attendants, and with the benignant and wise spirit of the whole administration.' Dickens had visited previously and the description of what he had found, published in Household Words in 1852, was not quite so glowing: 'With the benevolence which thus originated an additional madhouse, was mixed, as was usual in that age, a curious degree of unconscious cruelty.'
Note: the archives of St Luke's Hospital at LMA are being digitised as part of a Wellcome Library project.
Famous visitors: George Lansbury
The Cedars Lodge Visitors Book (LMA/4039/001) includes the signature of Rt Hon George Lansbury MP who opened the old people's home in Clapham, a New Home for Aged Men, on 22 July 1936. Lansbury (1859-1940) was a socialist, a former Labour Party leader, and grandfather of Angela 'Jessica Fletcher' Lansbury. Cedars Lodge was originally administered by the London County Council Welfare Department, transferred to Southwark Council in 1965 and closed down in 1969. A short film about the opening is available through London Screen Archives.
Spurgeon's Stockwell Orphanage
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) was a charismatic preacher and a leading member of a denomination known as the Strict Baptists. In 1867 he established an Orphan Home for Boys at Stockwell, in south-west London. There is a useful background history to this institution on Peter Higginbotham children's homes website. The former orphanage buildings at Stockwell no longer survive and Stockwell Park High School now occupies the site. The charity founded by Charles Spurgeon, now known simply as Spurgeons, continues to provide a wide variety of support for disadvantaged young people and their families. It also runs a number of visitor centres at prisons for anyone visiting a prisoner, including those with children. Spurgeons can provide copies of records to former inmates or to their relatives; a fee is chargeable for an initial search. Other material available includes a DVD of cine-footage of the Homes from the 1930s to the 1970s. For further information, visit the Spurgeon's website. LMA has a photograph of Spurgeon's funeral procession (SC/PHL/02/0962/76/11339B). He was buried in West Norwood Cemetery following his death in Menton, near Nice, France. The photograph is viewable on Collage.
Anyone for jury service?
On 14 August 1670, William Penn (famous later as the founder of Pennsylvania) and William Mead were committed to Newgate for addressing the congregation of the Quaker meeting house in Gracechurch Street in the City. This was in contravention of the Conventicle Act introduced to clamp down on illegal religious meetings. Penn and Mead were tried at the Old Bailey 1-5 September 1670. The jury refused to return a guilty verdict despite being fined and deprived of food for several days, and Penn and Mead were acquitted. A marble plaque in the main hall of the Central Criminal Court commemorates the trial which led to the independence of juries being established. There is an entry for William Penn and William Mead in the list of prisoners upon bail on the City of London Sessions file for August 1670 (CLA/047/LJ/01/203).
The Scarletfinders website provides information on all administrative and organisational aspects of the British military nursing services in France and Flanders during the Great War. It includes lots of relevant links and references to VAD services, hospitals, medals, etc.
An entry in document reference PS/OLD/A/01/090 for 'Edward Burton' is in fact believed to be George Orwell (Eric Blair) who was arrested in the course of his experiences as a 'down and out' gathering material for his book "Down and Out in Paris and London". The entry is dated Monday 21 December 1931 in the Court Register of Old Street Police Court. Research to that effect by Dr Luke Seaber of University College London was printed in the Oxford Journals 'Notes and Queries' Volume 61, Issue 4 (110KB) and was reported in The Guardian newspaper.
St John's Industrial School, Walthamstow
St John's Industrial/Reformatory School for Roman Catholic Boys, Walthamstow, Essex was officially certified for operation on 28 October 1870 in premises at the junction of Shernhall Street and Church Lane. It could accommodate up to 190 boys, aged from 6 to 12 years, placed by magistrates under the Industrial School Acts. St John's was established to relieve the overcrowded conditions at the St Nicholas Industrial School at Little Ilford, which itself had vacated the Walthamstow site in 1868. In 1899 charge of the School was taken over by Brother Director Arthur Doyle and two brothers of the Order of Mercy. In 1906, the inmates and staff of St Edward's Reformatory at Plaistow were transferred to the St John's site, which was from then on known as St John's Reformatory School. At that stage it accommodated up to 126 boys, aged from 14 to 16. Despite a decline in the number of boys being placed at the School, it continued in operation until 1932 when it resigned its certificate. The premises subsequently became St George's RC Secondary School and is now the Wiseman House site of the Holy Family College Catholic school and Sixth Form. Incidentally that is the school 2014 X-Factor runner-up Fleur East attended!
We do not hold records of the institution. For further information try the Catholic Children's Society (Westminster).
First photograph of London?
The first photo of London known to survive is of Whitehall by M. de St.Croix (the original is in the V&A). It dates from 1839 and LMA has a copy at SC/GL/PHO/W2/WAT/BRI-W2/WHI, but you can also see the image on the V&A's website.
Tracing living people
A useful guide to tracing living people is available on the website of The British Library.
Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre
The Summer 2014 issue (no. 90) of 'Who do you think you are?' magazine reports: "The Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre in West Brompton, London, holds a huge database with details of people who joined from 1829 onwards. The archive's unique collections include photographs, pension cards, divisional ledgers and records of service from 1911. The centre also has duplicate copies of joiners' and leavers' records from The National Archives. Staff at the centre will carry out a free search. Find out more on the Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre website
LCC records of midwives
The Midwives Act 1902 established the Central Midwives Board with power to examine midwives and ensure they were qualified before giving them a certificate to practise, to make rules governing their conduct and to act as a disciplinary body in all case of impropriety brought to their attention. The London County Council (LCC) was made the supervisory authority for London with power to deal with misbehaviour and suspend any midwife from practising, if necessary.
The Midwives Act 1936 established a domiciliary service of salaried midwives throughout the country. The LCC was the supervisory authority for London. It employed 53 midwives directly while about 120 midwives were paid by voluntary organisations under agreement with the LCC.
LMA has some records of midwives under reference LRB/PE/RC, but as these contain personal information they are subject to closure under Data Protection legislation. Read LMA's Collections Access Policy (140KB) for more details about closures; contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
First World War orthopaedic casualties
A quarter of casualties from battles arriving at military hospitals were orthopaedic cases. The War Office took over Hammersmith Infirmary and Workhouse in February 1916 as a military orthopaedic hospital with 800 beds where patients received treatment for their injuries and workshops were established to train patients in skills to help them find future employment. Many thousands of injuries resulted in the loss of arms or legs. Queen Mary's Hospital opened in Roehampton House in June 1915 for amputees. Here the surgeon recommended whatever limb was most suitable for an individual patient and it was fitted under his supervision. The patient was trained in its use before he left hospital. Limb-making workshops were established by private firms, initially in the basement of Roehampton House, later in huts in the grounds. Over 41,000 officers and men lost limbs in the war of whom 26,262 were supplied with their first artificial limbs at Roehampton. At St Thomas' Hospital, the first head of the School of Physiotherapy, Miss Minnie Randell, undertook the rehabilitation of patients who had lost their legs. "It was a formidable task, but absorbingly interesting because we knew nothing about the subject neither it appeared did anyone else except limb-makers." She quickly became disillusioned with the results of trying to train officers to use heavy, badly fitting wooden legs supplied by Roehampton, which were controlled with a harness from the shoulder. Light weight metal legs controlled by muscles from the stump were vastly superior, but they were expensive, costing at least £75 each, whereas a wooden leg cost from £15 to £22. The ex-servicemen's Disabled Society forced the government to hold a committee of enquiry in 1922 to assess the relative merits of different artificial limbs, which concluded that taking the cost of repairs and replacements into consideration, metal limbs were cheaper. The Ministry of Pensions then started to supply them.
Hammersmith Board of Guardians did not get its workhouse and infirmary back until May 1925 when the remaining orthopaedic patients were transferred from Shepherd's Bush to Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton. In the same year the Ministry of Pensions entered into an agreement with the trustees of Roehampton, whereby the Ministry virtually took over the administration of the hospital and limb centre.
For more information just search online for London hospitals in the First World War.
British Red Cross VAD database
The British Red Cross launched a new database on 20 October 2014 to “provide members of the public with free access to over 235,000 records of service for our voluntary aid detachments (VADs) that were a key resource during the First World War and beyond. You may have seen examples of their work in the recent BBC1 series 'The Crimson Field'. To find out more about the work of the Red Cross in the First World War, visit their blog.
Holland Park Estate Kensington
Holland House was constructed in 1605 for Sir Walter Cope. It was initially known as Cope Castle, and included a 500 acre estate. It was severely damaged by bombing in 1940. In 1951-2 the LCC bought the house and grounds to be used as a public open space. Most of the house was demolished, but the east wing was restored as a youth hostel.
For further information about the development of the Holland Park Estate see the Survey of London Vol 37 Northern Kensington available on British History Online
King George Hospital, Waterloo
King George Hospital, Stamford Street, Waterloo was a First World War Military Hospital between 1915 and 1919. At the outbreak of the First World War the War Office commandeered the newly built 5-storey warehouse for the H.M. Stationery Office in Stamford Street and Cornwall Road for use as a military hospital. The Lost Hospitals of London website contains a very interesting entry on it which is worth reading in its entirety, but we have copied three extracts from it:
'Reputedly the largest hospital in the United Kingdom, the King George Hospital finally opened at the end of May 1915 (labour disputes and strikes had delayed its opening). The first convoys of wounded men were brought by boat train to Waterloo station nearby (tunnels built as an integral part of the warehouse connected the building to the station so as to facilitate movement of supplies, and these enabled badly wounded men to be conveyed to the Hospital out of sight of the public).'
'The War Office had been responsible for the structural alterations to the building, while the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John equipped the wards, operating theatres, dispensaries, special departments, chapel, day rooms for the patients and sleeping quarters for the staff, all paid for by the generosity of the British public. The British Farmers' Red Cross Fund donated £4,000 to purchase equipment for the operating theatres and the X-ray Department.'
'The Hospital closed on 15th June 1919, having treated some 71,000 men. Some of its bedlinen (300 sheets, 300 drawsheets, 100 blankets) and equipment (50 lockers, sterilising drums, antiseptic boxes, bed-tables, screens and covers, lounge chairs, folding chairs, cutlery) were sent to the Queen's Hospital for Children in Hackney Road.'
Continuing the First World War theme, LMA has records with references to Edith Cavell (the British nurse executed in Belgium in 1915). As well as material on the memorials in London, we are now picking up references to her coffin being brought back to London in 1919 en route for Norwich where she is buried; many people including school children watched the procession. However, long before the war she worked for two London Boards of Guardians (St Pancras and Shoreditch) and we have some material. She was Assistant Matron in Shoreditch Infirmary (later St Leonard's Hospital) between 1903 and 1906. (See SHBG/208/003 for details of her appointment in 1903 and resignation in 1906, and SHBG/076 for a Board minute in 1915 noting the news of her execution and the fact she was an ex-member of staff).
River Thames website
The Greenwich Maritime Institute has recently launched a Researching the River Thames website. The site is a "guide for anyone interested in finding out more about the environment of the river and its history. It provides information on historical sources and on where to find out more. It is designed for those wanting to research online, as well as those who would like to get out into the archives".
Suburban South East London
Useful histories and images of South East London suburbs can be found on the Ideal Homes website.
Baptism of Noël Coward
LMA has the baptism of the actor, playwright, director, composer, raconteur, wit, etc, etc, Noël Peirce Coward (16 December 1899 - 26 March 1973). It happened on 10 February 1900 at St Mary Teddington in Middlesex.