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John Scott Health Centre at Woodberry Down

A Grade II Listed Building in Clissold, London

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Latitude: 51.5682 / 51°34'5"N

Longitude: -0.0935 / 0°5'36"W

OS Eastings: 532231

OS Northings: 187204

OS Grid: TQ322872

Mapcode National: GBR GH.YXX

Mapcode Global: VHGQM.BVF5

Plus Code: 9C3XHW94+7H

Entry Name: John Scott Health Centre at Woodberry Down

Listing Date: 23 January 2007

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1391844

English Heritage Legacy ID: 491376

Location: Hackney, London, N4

County: London

District: Hackney

Electoral Ward/Division: Woodberry Down

Built-Up Area: Hackney

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Olave Woodberry Down

Church of England Diocese: London

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Listing Text

735/0/10158 GREEN LANES
23-JAN-07 John Scott Health Centre at Woodberry

Health Centre. 1948-1952, with minor later-C20 alterations. Under the direction of Robert H. Matthew ARIBA, Architect to the LCC, by W.J. Durnford FRIBA, Senior Architect and A.E. Miller FRIBA, both of the General Division; with Medical Officer of Health Sir Allen Daley and his successor Dr. John A. Scott. Reinforced concrete frame, faced with golden brown handmade bricks and stone. Steel Crittall windows. Swedish influenced modern style with a simple monolithic quality, classically proportioned with only narrow sill bands giving any decoration. 2 storeys including parapet with flat roof behind.
PLAN: Extended C-shaped plan around a central court. The plan segregates the multiple services: doctor's consulting ranges to Green Lanes wing, and School Health, Child Welfare and Ante-Natal units in the more protected wing to Springpark Drive on the estate. A linear former Nursery extends to the east and curves forward slightly at the east end.

EXTERIOR: GREEN LANES ELEVATION comprises main range of 22 windows to ground and first floors with wide central entrance; set back wing to right of 5 window bays over entrance; and set back wing to left of 10 window bays also with entrance to right. The windows generally form a continuous strip with slightly advanced stone surrounds; original metal framed casements survive behind late-C20 plastic double-glazing. Entrances have similar stone surrounds with deeply recessed doors in stone architraves. Return elevation to SPRINGPARK DRIVE has main range of 27 window bays (4 windows with secondary glazing) flanked by advanced bays, that to right with 3 individual windows above wide entrance of glass brick in stone surround with central recessed door; that to left of of 3-storeys with late-C20 door and canted glazing below full-height first floor glazing, all within thin stone surrounds, and a strip of 6 single pane windows to second floor. This 3-storey block returns to REAR elevation with 4 individual windows at each floor. This is flanked by an even taller narrow range, blind except for a tall stair window with small horizontal metal glazing. Beyond this, it continues as before with rear range that has 15 window bays, end elevation of 5 over 3 individual windows, and the courtyard facing side with fire escape. The strip windows continue to the courtyard facing elevation of Springpark Drive, and that of Green Lanes wing, but here there is a single-storey late-C20 addition within the formerly open central court. Return elevation to Green Lanes has 6 individual windows at ground and first floor and tall stair window to corner. Tall chimney to mostly blind end elevation with 3 individual windows. Facing SOUTH, a two-storey glazed window divided into 3 panes, that to left at ground floor is an entrance; to left a strip of 8 windows to ground and first floors.
Attached by a low link and to the east is the Day NURSERY, which was built as an integral part of the complex, although it does not communicate internally. This building, now the Woodberry Down Early Years Centre, was renovated and in part extended in 2004. This range appears subsidiary but is in a similar architectural style and it has some historic interest for the services it provided within the original complex: rooms for toddlers, tweenies, babies, as well as pram space. It comprises a single storey linear range that slews at the east end to fit the site. The special interest is concentrated at the entrance, with its sinuous glazed doors with overlights and a deep overhaning roof, and lettering indicating WOODBERRY DOWN DAY NURSERY. The rest of the nursery range is of lesser interest.

INTERIOR: Entrance Hall to the Green Lanes entrance is lined with polished hardwood including a revolving door and commemorative plaque, and pair of plain columns. Entrance from Springpark Drive has oval tray ceiling. Ground floor lecture hall has lost the original light fittings ceiling decoration. First floor Doctors Common Room has a streamlined surround of horizontal blocks; to a recessed fireplace with metallic frame, and original light fittings. First floor corridors continue the perimeter of the building with circular roof lights and open plan waiting areas interspersed with offices to each side. Three staircases comprising metal framed glass panels under metal ramped handrail culminating in circular green metallic newel post. Stairs are well-lit by glass brick ceiling lights, glass brick partitions from corridors, and tall exterior stair windows.

HISTORY: The Woodberry Down Health Centre, re-named the John Scott Health Centre soon after opening in 1952, was built to serve c.17,000 people, with a projected capacity for c.23,500. 6,500 of these potential patients lived on the contemporary Woodberry Down Estate, and the attached Nursery School was to accommodate 42 children. The Woodberry Down Estate fills six acres at the northern boundary of the old County of London. The LCC acquired the Victorian villas on the site in order to develop this new estate between 1946 to 1948. The site had the benefit of proximity to the New River and its twin Stoke Newington reservoirs, of which the Health Centre and the housing enjoyed attractive vistas. Woodberry Down was to be the only one of the LCC estates to fulfill the ambition of the County of London Plan, written in 1943 by the influential planner Patrick Abercrombie and the Country Architect J.H. Forshaw. This called for new housing to form neighbourhoods in the manner of traditional London villages, where most daily needs were provided for with schools, shops, community centre and library, and comprehensive health care. The comprehensive school has been demolished, and shops and library have been altered. Much of the housing, the health centre and the nursery survive.

A health centre was planned for the Woodberry Down Estate as early as 1939, and a brief was set out in 1946 when LCC Architects W.J. Durnford and A.E. Miller began working with the Council's doctor, John A. Scott, to prepare plans. The discussions between the architectural and medical departments, as well as other committees and government departments such as education, allowed the thoughtful planning and inclusion of a wide range of local health authority services: Medical Practitioners' and Dental Surgeons' Unit, a School Health Unit, Child Welfare Unit, Ante-Natal Unit, and a Remedial Exercises and Child Guidance Unity. The idea of comprehensive health care with all these services under one roof alarmed many in the medical profession who perceived it as threatening the ideal of the family doctor. Progress was delayed by a dispute between the Ministry of Health and the British Medical Association about the suitability of such a comprehensive health centre. However, in 1948, permission was obtained and ground was broken in March 1949. This was less than one year after the creation of the National Health Service, and construction went forward on this first model of a new and specialised building type.

SOURCES: The Architects' Journal. August 6, 1953. Vol.118, no.3049. p.168.
The Architect and Building News, October 16, 1952, pp.469-472.
Building, March 1949.
Architect & Building News, vol.195, no.4181, 4 February 1949, pp.87-88.
Official Architecture and Planning, vol.16, no.1, January 1953, pp.18-19.
'Oldest and Newest- Bristol', in British Medical Journal, no.5451, 26 June 1965.
Architects Journal, vol.115, no.2971, 7 February 1952, p.178.
Architect and Building News, vol.209, no.17, 26 April 1956, pp.428-31.
Town and Country Planning, vol.27, no.1, January 1959, pp.17-20.
Architectural Review, vol. 116, no.692, p.100
Webster, The Health Services Since the War, vol.2 1958-79, London, HMSO, 1996.
Charles Webster, The National Health Service, a Political History, Oxford University Press, 1998.
Sir Bernard Dawson, chairman, Interim Report on the Future Provision of Medical and Allied Services, Cmnd.693, 1920.
Brian Abel-Smith, The Hospitals 1800-1948, London, Heinemann, 1964
John Allan, Berthold Lubetkin, Architecture and the Tradition of Progress, London, RIBA, 1992.
Irvine Loudon, John Horder and Charles Webster, eds., General Practice under the National Health Service 1948-1997, London, Clarendon Press, 1998, pp.1-10, 26-34, 54.
Elain Harwood, 'Healthcare and Hospitals' in Post-war Architecture in England, Yale University Press, forthcoming.
CL/CER/3/8/160A, Woodberry Down Health Centre, London Metropolitan Archives
CL/PH/1/229, LMA
LHA Circular 7/67

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: The Woodberry Down Health Centre was one of the first and the most impressive NHS health centres in the country. Opening in 1952, under the title of the John Scott Health Centre, it was built to serve c.17,000 people, with a projected capacity for c.23,500. 6,500 of these potential patients lived on the contemporary Woodberry Down Estate, one of the early LCC estates to fulfill the ambition of the County of London Plan, written in 1943 by the influential planner Patrick Abercrombie and the Country Architect J.H. Forshaw. The health centre survives mostly unaltered and its original planning and design is clear and impressive. Furthermore, ongoing extensive thematic research has more fully shown the seminal importance of this building in the history of the modern health system. The Woodberry Down Health Centre therefore meets the criteria for listing at Grade II for its historic special interest as one of the first post-war health centre following the 1948 creation of the National Health Service, and for its architectural special interest as a mostly intact 1946-52 design by LCC Architects that expresses innovative planning as well as high quality design of the period. The historic and architectural special interest of the Health Centre is compounded by its context within the Woodberry Down Estate. The Health Centre, along with the Junior and Infants School, has an important context within one of the most significant examples of LCC urban planning and architecture, which came to fruition after WWII.

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