St John and St Elizabeth in the 1950s and 1960s


There can’t be many people who lived in St John’s Wood in the 1950s and 1960s that at sometime did not visit our local Hospital, John and Elizabeth’s as it was known. I know I did on several occasions. I was trying to think exactly how many: I split my head open twice requiring stitches, once whilst sliding on ice during the big freeze of 1962/63, I trod on a rusty nail at the Adventure Playground,  I cut my finger open during woodwork at Kynaston School, and I broke my finger falling off Nat Hyam’s trades bike. I wasn’t the only one, most kids ended up there at sometime, especially during the school holidays. I remember the swings down the Burial ground being a particular danger spot. Many’s the time someone came flying off whilst trying to see how high they could go, which usually required a visit to “the Hospital”. Upon arrival you had to ring the bell, and the huge black doors were opened by a nun (the Hospital was founded in 1856 by The Sisters of Mercy, an order that worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean war).The first thing you noticed was the antiseptic smell, I can still remember it today and you used to sit on a bench to the right of a huge sweeping staircase. Unlike today, there were no long waits, you were usually attended to within 10 minutes, then another big black door would open and you would be invited in for treatment. It was all free, but there was a donation box and I remember Mum or Dad putting 10 bob or a pound in depending on the severity of the injury. Today, of course, the Hospital is unrecognisable  with a whole new frontage, and I wouldn’t think a donation would suffice if you were to require treatment, but back then it provided a much valued service for the people of St Johns Wood.

This page was added on 28/02/2015.

Comments about this page

  • I had my tonsils and adenoids removed in St John and St Elizabeth hospital; I was probably 5 years old. The morning after, I was woken by one of the Nuns who immediately called one of the Doctors as I had Scarlet Fever. I was immediately taken by Ambulance to Stanmore Isolation Hospital and was there for around 3 weeks. About 6 weeks later I had a massive nose bleed and in the middle of the night my father piggy backed me from Scott Ellis Gardens where we lived back to the Hospital again. The Nurses/Nuns were again so lively I have never forgotten them.

    By Nita Heaton-Harris (nee Dunn) (25/09/2017)
  • I was born in the hospital on 24/10/50, I arrived early
    in the morning and my mother called me Michael.
    A few minutes ( or maybe more) out popped my
    Brother, my mother was not expecting him and had
    not thought of a name, and the nuns said that as
    she had already one archangel called Michael
    why not call this one Raphael, another archangel.
    This she did, Raphael was quite an unusual name for
    1950 and he was generally known as Ray,but later in
    Life came to feel proud of having the name Raphael.
    When we got older we served mass in the hospital
    Chapel on Sunday mornings and benediction in
    the afternoon (good catholic boys,good catholic
    Mother). The best was when there was a funeral, as
    we used to get 2/6d each and sometimes some

    By Michael Kenward (23/07/2017)
  • Hi Dave, although I’ve lived in Hertfordshire for over 30yrs now, I too occasionally go back to the Wood, however I hardly ever see anyone I know, I’m in contact with Chris Nicoll and we meet up for a drink now and then, next time you see Mike give him my regards, I often wonder what happened to all us lads from the Wood, Chris Davies, Lol McCarthy etc, hope you are well though.

    By Terry Farmer (09/07/2015)
  • I had a skin graft on my hand there after falling on a milk bottle when i was two years old. They took skin from my thigh to sort out my hand  and did a wonderful job. As you say Terry you wouldn’t recognise the place now . I occasionally pop over to the Wood when I am working over that way and see Mike Hunt at Lords . Good to know you are still about Terry and I hope all is well. 

    By David Hussey (25/06/2015)

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