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Mayor in public appeal for memories and stories about the old London Hospital in Whitechapel

PUBLISHED: 14:00 11 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:14 11 January 2019

The Royal London in its heyday before it was closed and relocated in 2013. Picture: Rii Schroer

The Royal London in its heyday before it was closed and relocated in 2013. Picture: Rii Schroer

Rii Schroer - rii.schroer@gmx.net

A public appeal has been started asking former staff or anyone with connections to the historic London Hospital in Whitechapel to share photos and stories to go on the worldwide web.

Bird's eye view of how new town hall will look in 2022. Picture: LBTHBird's eye view of how new town hall will look in 2022. Picture: LBTH

The old hospital that’s been empty for six years is being brought back into public use in a £105 million development for a new town hall for Tower Hamlets Council.

“Bringing the old building back to life means a lot to me,” Mayor John Biggs revealed.

“The London was a hospital with personal memories going back decades and touching the lives of many people I’ve known, including close friends and family, and of course myself. It’s an important part of our community.”

Image projection event in Whitechapel Road, November 2018, showing past figures from the old London Hospital. Picture: QMULImage projection event in Whitechapel Road, November 2018, showing past figures from the old London Hospital. Picture: QMUL

The building is one of London’s most famous landmarks at the heart of the East End’s history since 1757.

Historic figures associated with it include ‘Elephant Man’ Joseph Merrick who died in 1890 from a freak bone growth disorder and nurse Edith Cavell who trained there before working in Belgium where she was executed by the German Occupation forces during the First World War.

The hospital was replaced in 2013 with the new Royal London complex immediately behind and has remained empty since.

Children's medical examining room in 1907. Picture: London Hospital ArchiveChildren's medical examining room in 1907. Picture: London Hospital Archive

But now its rebirth makes it the centrepiece of the Whitechapel masterplan, one of London’s largest regeneration projects which includes Crossrail opening later this year and a new £300m life sciences campus for Queen Mary University.

The new town hall opens in 2022, with the ground floor open to the public for meetings, access to council services and a new public library.

The historic 18th century facia is being retained where possible. Building materials and techniques will be compatible to maintain a “high conservation design” standard.

Royal London in Whitechapel Road today... boarded up and ready to be transformed into Tower Hamlets' new £105m town hall. Picture: GoogleRoyal London in Whitechapel Road today... boarded up and ready to be transformed into Tower Hamlets' new £105m town hall. Picture: Google

The scheme saves £5m a year in public funds by not having to lease the current Mulberry Place town hall in Blackwall. It is also replacing several council office buildings elsewhere which will release land for housing.

The three-year town hall development is generating 400 construction jobs a year, with a target of one-in-five for workers living in the East End, including 65 apprenticeships. The council also wants 20 per cent of supply contracts to be with local companies.

People with memories of the old London Hospital can tweet their stories and photos to @towerhamletsnow using the #thtownhall tag or emailing rlondonmemories@towerhamlets.gov.uk.

The council, of course, could also ask the Royal family for their memories. The Queen and Prince Philip came to the old hospital to meet recovering victims of the 2005 London Underground bombing at Aldgate.

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