Thursday, 17 May 2012

Hospital History

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The Atlas Obscura1 is a compendium of the world’s wonders, curiosities and eccentric sites. It is a great resource for finding strange and unusual places to explore in both new and familiar locations, allowing you to investigate hidden treasures around the world. With more than 3,500 interesting sites around the world, it is a global phenomenon. Obscura Day is a celebration of these wonderful sites, which takes place on April 28th. The first Obscura Day occurred in 2010, with just 80 locations taking part in the celebration. This day has since taken off in popularity with around 100 events around the world, and there is such high demand that most events quickly become sold out.

One of this year’s events occurred at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in Central London2. The hospital was originally founded in a converted house in 1852, following the trend in Europe and becoming the UK’s first specialty children’s hospital. It was founded by the expert gynecologist Dr Charles West and was specifically intended for poor women and families. Initially the hospital contained 20 children’s beds, but over the years the hospital has expanded several times, with sections being built and rebuilt, leading to a modern institute formed of buildings of varying ages.

The hospital itself is one of Europe’s leading institutes for children’s medicine3. The hospital has received support from Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, and J. M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, who gave the copyright to Great Ormond Street Hospital4.

The Obscura Day tour consisted of a personal tour of the hospital museum, which is located in a building opposite the hospital. The structure is part of a row of houses, which would have been the same as the house the original hospital occupied when it first opened. The museum is filled with artifacts from the hospitals different periods in history, it includes several metal cots, children’s wheelchairs and a variety of metical apparatus. There are a variety of exhibits charting the hospitals history, from the founder and contributors, to the effects of bombing during the world wars. The curator of the museum was a very knowledgeable man, recounting stories from the hospitals colourful history. Over all an amazing opportunity to explore the hidden relics behind a world leading institute and examine the small beginnings of the revolution in children’s healthcare.

E Markham (2012). Hospital History Blogspot

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