Nick Black

Author of The Honourable Doctor




Walking London’s Medical History

Second Edition

The history of health care is complex, confusing, and contested. It involves more than just the creation of hospitals and dispensaries, infirmaries, and health centers. There are also royal colleges, trades unions, medical schools, nurses’ homes, coroners’ courts, nursing sisterhoods, ambulance stations, patients’ organizations, and medical missions.

Usually, to enhance our understanding we sit and read books, or, nowadays, surf the Internet. But it’s more fun to go out, visit the buildings where events unfolded and transport yourself back in time. The story of how health care has developed from medieval times to the present day is told through seven walks in central London, each with a key theme.

The book takes as much interest in one of the six ambulance stations build in 1915 by the London County Council as it does in the grandest teaching hospital. Although some important buildings have been destroyed, and others are threatened, many remain. The walks aim to help preserve our legacy as, increasingly, former health care buildings are converted into hotels, offices, homes, and shops. Awareness of their original functions is in danger of being lost. The book also aims to increase our understanding of the current challenges we face in trying to improve health care. For there are many lessons to be learnt from the past.

Packed full of curious and surprising facts about medicine and beautifully illustrated with maps, photographs, and images, this is the perfect guide book for anyone with a passion for urban walks, the history of London, and, of course, medicine.

Formats available: Paperback, Ebook

First published: 22/10/12

Publisher: CRC Press

ISBN: 9781444172430

Reviews for Walking London’s Medical History

“In this colourful and scholarly account, Nick Black examines the highways and byways of London’s medical past. The stories told along the route of this pilgrimage are of intense interest. Anyone interested in its unwholesome and insalubrious past will wish to read this book. It is an anatomy upon the historical body of London.”

Peter Ackroyd

“With marvellous insights at every twist and turn, navigated with the help of clear directions and useful maps, Black’s guidebook provides not only exercise for the legs but enlightenment for the mind.”

British Medical Journal | Read the full review

“With teasing asides about the scandals and intrigues of London’s medical history … Black reveals little-known aspects of the capital’s past in a manner both informative and fun, accessible whether you have a medical background or not. Walks you’ll actually want to go on.”

Tom Lamont, Editor, Time Out: London for Londoners

“An absolute must read for those who believe that if we do not learn from the past we are condemned to repeat it.”

Nursing Standard

“Its strength lies in the guided tours, the magnificent illustrations and, lastly, a series of some 36 brief articles about subjects as diverse as ambulances, almoners, convalescent homes, finance and nurses’ leagues. This is a book which anyone interested in the history of either London or medicine will find invaluable.”

London Society Journal

“An outstanding book for anyone who is interested in the history of medicine in London…I wish I could have purchased this book many years ago.”

Medical Sciences History

“What a brilliant book! Nick Black’s knowledge is encyclopaedic. Fascinating. I’m enjoying both the book and the walks.”

Karol Sikora

“A delightful book. One need not go to London or take a single one of the seven walks to learn from this most attractive book.”

Doody's Book Review Service