Romford celebrates anniversary of royal visit to Victoria Hospital with Havering’s deputy mayor

Havering’s deputy mayor and an NHS boss helped local history enthusiasts celebrate the centenary of a royal visit to the Victoria Hospital, Romford.

Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, placed a memorial stone to King Edward VII at the Pettits Lane hospital on July 16th 1912. On Monday, Laurie Ford of Havering Heritage, along with deputy mayor Cllr Eric Munday and Frances Pennell-Buck, deputy chair of NHS North East London and the City (NELC), unveiled the stone for a second time before an invited audience.

“To me, this knocks spots off any building in the borough,” said Mr Ford. “This is the place I would have brought the Queen when she came to Romford.”

The original cottage hospital was opened in 1888 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee – and later extended to honour her Diamond Jubilee, as well as both King Edward VII and King George VI. The building comprised one women’s and one men’s ward, with a matron’s bedroom overlooking both so she could keep constant surveillance even when off-duty. When it was built, it was the only hospital for six miles – Oldchurch’s foundation stone was laid three years later.

Today operating as a health centre under NHS NELC, the crumbling building is in need of attention. “I don’t think there will be a bicentenary,” said Mr Ford, who led an unsuccessful campaign to get the hospital – now known as the Victoria Centre – listed 10 years ago. “By that time the whole thing will have fallen down. The brickwork is falling apart.”

“Something should be done to preserve the buildings,” Ms Pennell-Buck agreed, “but with the breakup of the NHS next year I’m not sure who will be taking responsibility.

“I think it’s a real symbol of the continuity of healthcare in this area,” she added.

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After the unveiling, the guests gathered for a reception at Harefield Manor, provided free of charge by manager Paul Harris.