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 has failed or is missing, and much of the stone cladding has been covered in cementitious render. Much of the surface is blistering as moisture is retained inside micro cracks in the impermeable cement. There is vegetation growing on top of the arch. The lettering ‘Queen Mary’s Arch for the East End’ is eroded and not clearly legible.

The project will involve a DOFF clean and poultice. The cement render will be removed only where necessary, not throughout, but if sound, the render will have joints inserted and pointed in lime mortar in order to allow moisture to escape. Once cleaned, a decision will be taken about the inscription’s legibility: if necessary it will be recarved or painted. A central lantern to match the original will be reinstated and the two 1980s lanterns removed from the inside.

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