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Historic figures of the past beamed onto the old London Hospital draws crowds in Whitechapel

PUBLISHED: 12:02 21 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:46 21 November 2018

Crowds in Whitechapel Road see historic images projected onto facade of the old London Hospital. Picture: QMUL

Crowds in Whitechapel Road see historic images projected onto facade of the old London Hospital. Picture: QMUL

QMUL

A giant canvas of historical photographs of figures in the 19th and 20th centuries was projected onto the façade of the old London Hospital building in Whitechapel to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS.

Historic figures from the past come to life on facade of the old London Hospital. Picture: QMULHistoric figures from the past come to life on facade of the old London Hospital. Picture: QMUL

The disused landmark, which opened in 1740 as the Whitechapel Infirmary, drew crowds in the Whitechapel Road on Saturday to watch the display of unique monochrome images.

The commemorative event was the idea of Queen Mary University historian Dr Nadia Valman and artist Karen Crosby.

Queen Mary University historian projects archive pictures of London Hospital's past onto its facade. Picture: QMULQueen Mary University historian projects archive pictures of London Hospital's past onto its facade. Picture: QMUL

“This was a tribute to doctors and nurses all over the world who came to the East End to work at the hospital,” Dr Valman explained. “The hospital archives are full of their stories which we were able to bring to life.”

Among images projected onto the building was the famous Victorian ‘Elephant Man’ Joseph Merrick, who lived out the last few years of his life at the hospital, shunned by Victorian society for his disfigured body, until he died in 1890 aged 27.

Image of Joseph Merrick, 'Elephant Man' of Victorian London, projected onto the building where he died. Picture: QMULImage of Joseph Merrick, 'Elephant Man' of Victorian London, projected onto the building where he died. Picture: QMUL

Dr Valman created an archive project last year about the London Hospital, with Merrick as the main theme for a new audio guided tour of Whitechapel in the 1880s.

Other hospital figures from the past were Annie Brewster, one of the first black nurses in Victorian London, Dorothy Stewart Russell who was among the first women doctors trained at ‘The London’ and Nurse Edith Cavell who trained there before working in Belgium where she was executed in the First World War during the German occupation.

The old hospital site which has been empty since 2013 when the Royal London moved to its new site in Stepney Way, is being converted into the new Tower Hamlets civic centre which opens in 2022.

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