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Founding King's College Hospital

view down narrow street with gaslamp in foreground and no people evidentKing's College Hospital, Portugal Street, c 1900King's also urgently needed its own clinical facilities and in 1839 a workhouse in nearby Portugal Street was converted into a small teaching hospital of 120 beds. The hospital opened its doors to patients in April 1840.

Todd was the driving force behind the project. The hospital was situated amongst some of the worst slums in London and soon became overcrowded, with patient numbers rising from 4,834 in 1840 to 30, 607 in 1851.

The need for relocation or expansion was made more pressing still by the presence of 'noxious gases' issuing from rotting corpses located in an adjacent burial ground.

A proposal to move the hospital to a site west of Somerset House was blocked by local residents and so an appeal was launched in 1846 to enlarge the hospital headed by the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, who spoke of the moral obligation of donors to mitigate the suffering of the poor in a city that had otherwise enjoyed 'increased refinement…recreation and amusement'.

The improvements were completed in 1851 but proved inadequate to meet demand. A new Hospital was erected in 1861 before relocation to the present site at Denmark Hill in 1913.

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