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A temporary ‘Fever Hospital’ was opened in 1891 near the Council Sewage Works at Auckland Road.  The Medical Officer of Health claimed that this position provided fresh air as well as keeping people at a distance.  The hospital was moved in 1896 to higher ground nearer housing but no further from the sewage works 1.  It was used mainly for scarlet fever and diptheria cases. A local woman remembered her sister aged 4 ½ years dying in the early 1900s from scarlet fever and diphtheria, which was recorded as toxic poisoning on the certificate, presumably to conceal the level of infectious disease.  Her sister was not allowed visitors in the isolation hospital 2.   Jenny Hammond, who became a member of Leyton Council, was shocked that the fever hospital was a 20 year old wooden building next to the ‘dust destructor’ 3.


1  Report of the Medical Officer of Health A F Peskett presented 6th July 1896

2  WFOHW  interview reference number 46

3  WFOHW interview reference number 70

There was a problem at the end of the 19th c with outbreaks of infection killing many babies in the hottest summer months. Hot weather in July 1896 resulted in 44 deaths from diarrhoea, 40 of the victims less than 1 year old, and in August 22 deaths from diarrhoea 1896 and 50 deaths from scarlet fever.  Cases for diarrhoea were down to 4 in September 1896 4.  Leyton’s ‘Zymotic Death-rate’ of 8.3 per 1000 per annum was higher than the London average of 6.6 5.

4  Report of the Medical Officer of Health to the Sanitary Committee of 18th October 1898

5  The Report of the Medical Officer of Health to the Sanitary Committee of 22nd September 1896

The West Ham Poor Law Union Infirmary opened in 1903 in the 44 acres of grounds of Forest House.  The cost of £186,000 was criticised as extravagant.  The Infirmary was only meant for sick people whose families could not look after them.  >>

the later Victorian and Edwardian times 1890 to 1919

Whipps Cross Hospital towers
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