London Lock Hospital

Sometime in the mid 18th century, the Brits looked around and said: “Hey, you know what we don’t have a lot of anymore? Lepers. Guess we don’t need those special hospitals for them anymore, do we?” But then someone pointed out that syphilis was basically the new leprosy, so they all said: “Oh, right. Guess we should do something about that, huh?” And so, on January 31, 1747 London Lock Hospital, the first VD clinic, opened in the wake of the closing of the Lazer hospitals for treating leprosy.

London Lock opened in a former house on Grosvenor Square near Hyde Park Corner and treated nearly 300 patients its first year (despite the fact that 18th century syphilis treatments were largely ineffective). In 1842 the hospital moved to Harrow Road in Westbourne Grove, and then decamped again for Dean Street in Soho, when it was oddly renamed The Female Hospital (it still treated men as outpatients).

The hospital gradually started specializing in women’s health issues, both venereal and non-venereal, and with the start of the National Health service in 1952, it became part of Paddington Hospital and disappeared entirely. It does, however, continue to live on in a late-18th century ditty:

As I was walking down by the Lock Hospital,
As I was walking one morning of late,
Who did I spy but my own dear comrade,
Wrapped in flannel, so hard is his fate.

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