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Queen Mary’s Hospital for the East End Arch

Restoration of the arch

Queen Mary’s Hospital for the East End originated as the West Ham, Stratford and South Essex Dispensary, opened in July 1861 by local doctor William Elliot. The building had been lent to him by Stratford resident Mary Curtis, who donated a plot of land for a new dispensary soon afterwards, whilst her husband donated a quarter of its £4,000 construction cost. The two storey new dispensary opened in 1879 – its motto was "Ohne Zaegern und ohne Zagen" ("Without hesitation or fear"). In 1888, Prince George, Duke of Cambridge laid the foundation stone of a new hospital next to it, opened two years later by the 1st Duke of Westminster. The hospital had a 32-bed accident unit with five doctors, three consulting surgeons, a matron, four nurses and two probationers to save the long journey to the London Hospital, whilst the Old Dispensary became its outpatients department. Only the arch survives.

The arch’s core is believed to be brick, covered with stone cladding. Around 50% of the brick pointing had failed or was missing, and much of the stone cladding had been covered in cementitious render. The surface was blistering as moisture was retained inside micro cracks in the impermeable cement. Additionally, there was vegetation growing on top of the arch and the lettering ‘Queen Mary’s Arch for the East End’ had eroded and was not clearly legible.

The project involved a DOFF clean and poultice. The cement render was removed only where necessary, not throughout, but where sound, the render had joints inserted and pointed in lime mortar in order to allow moisture to escape. Once cleaned, the inscription was recarved. This project was supported by HOLT and L&Q, and completed in 2022.

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