SOUTHEND Hospital has been pushed to its limits due to the coronavirus pandemic and our pictures show it has come a long way since first opening its doors.

The wheels were put in motion for the hospital to be built when, in 1924, a government report pointed to the “gross inadequacy” of provision for the town.

Southend’s first hospital in Warrior Square was unable to cope with the rising population of the seaside town due to there being only 64 beds and cots.

The possibility of extending the Warrior Square site was considered, but instead it was decided to find a new site large enough to build a hospital of up to 400 beds.


Inside - the outpatient waiting hall at Southend Hospital in the 1930s

Public donations raised an impressive £120,000 and building work started in 1930, but there was still a shortfall of £50,000.

However, Lord Iveagh, a businessman and former MP for Southend, paid the remainder himself to ensure the construction of the hospital could be completed.

The grand opening took place on July 26, 1932, with Lord Iveagh pressing the button to open the main doors.


Momentous occasion - Lord Iveagh presses the button to open the main doors of Southend Hospital for the first time on July 26, 1932

A huge audience – who were seated across the entrance court and greeted by music from the Corps of Signals Band – gathered outside the new hospital for the grand opening.

Speaking to the gathered thousand, Lord Iveagh said: “I made up my mind that I would see the hospital through as far as the building was concerned.

“This morning, I have carried out that deed in the presence of the mayor.”


Huge attendance - countless members of the community gathered outside the new hospital for the grand opening in 1932

The Second World War halted planned building work at the hospital, but significant expansion took place in the 1960s and 1970s, including a new accident and emergency department, intensive care unit and children’s unit.

A diabetes centre and a £1million eye clinic followed in the 1990s.

Building work in the new millennium included the £3.4million A&E department and a £4.75million radiology centre.


Updated technology - Southend Hospital staff with the Da Vinci X robot to perform surgeries

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Scroll down to see more photos of Southend Hospital through the ages.


Historic - Southend Hospital preparing for the Second World War in 1939


Royalty in the building - Princess Anne opens a new extension at Southend Hospital in December 1971



How it looked close to 90 years ago - construction work on Southend Hospital started in the early 1930s


Rolling back the years - Southend residents at the hospital


What it looks like now - Southend Hospital has developed greatly since its initial opening