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The X-Ray Department, Formerly the Underground Hospital, Erith and District Hospital

A Grade II Listed Building in Erith, London

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Latitude: 51.4765 / 51°28'35"N

Longitude: 0.1664 / 0°9'59"E

OS Eastings: 550545

OS Northings: 177503

OS Grid: TQ505775

Mapcode National: GBR RX.QMB

Mapcode Global: VHHNS.T4TZ

Plus Code: 9F32F5G8+HH

Entry Name: The X-Ray Department, Formerly the Underground Hospital, Erith and District Hospital

Listing Date: 27 November 2003

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393267

English Heritage Legacy ID: 501623

ID on this website: 101393267

Location: Northumberland Heath, Bexley, London, DA8

County: London

District: Bexley

Electoral Ward/Division: Erith

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Bexley

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Erith Christ Church

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

Tagged with: Hospital building

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The X-Ray Department, formerly the Underground Hospital, Erith and District Hospital


Former underground hospital, later X-Ray Department. Built in 1938 by Erith Borough Council and opened in 1939 as a Civilian Field Hospital/Casualty Station for the imminent war. It was constantly manned by permanent staff and volunteers during the Second World War. In 1950 it was converted into an X-Ray department by the additional of some further partition walls and air-conditioning.

EXTERIOR: Semi-underground structure built of shuttered concrete to be bomb-proof. Roughly rectangular in shape with a curved roof with a thick covering of earth and grass designed to camouflage the building from enemy aircraft. Each of the long sides has four reinforced metal casement windows at a high level with horizontal glazing bars. The main entrance is now in the middle of the north front approached by a ramp with four small windows and a right side door with "X RAY DEPT" painted above. The original main entrances were at each end with ramps and doors suitable for stretchers and trolleys with separate entrances for men and women. The east side has five doors, the west side four doors and a double wooden door.

INTERIOR: Series of brick dividing walls probably doubling as load bearing walls and blast walls with flush-panelled doors. The building is divided into a large number of rooms with an almost identical layout at each end with separate departments for men and women. An open drainage gully running the length of the building close to the outside wall was intended to carry off water after hosing down patients caught out in an enemy mustard gas attack. Some wooden storage lockers survive in the side walls and an original stone sink to the rear of the new X-Ray room.

HISTORY: Built as part of the Emergency Medical Service introduced by the Ministry of Health to deal with the anticipated large-scale casualties from enemy bombing. The provision was mainly hutted accommodation and although another five of these concrete structures were planned no others are known to survive. The only other underground hospitals known are the one at Dover Castle built by the military as a Field Dressing Station as part of a combined HQ accommodation and the underground hospital at Jersey built by the Germans with forced labour for their defence from the allies. Neither of these examples are comparable with this structure at Erith.

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