|Description||Records of the Eastern Dispensary, 1808-1952, comprising minutes of general meetings of Governors, 1886-1952; minutes of the Committee of Management, 1927-1951; papers relating to the Dispensary, including receipt for subscription, 1808, drawing and description of the new Dispensary, 1859, report of annual dinner, 1834; Secretary's papers, 1855-1937, including advertisements for posts, conveyance of Dispensary to new Trustees, 1929, press cuttings; annual reports, 1916-1918; lease of cellars under the Dispensary, 1926-1939; Secretary’s correspondence, 1935-1951. |
|Administrative history||The Eastern Dispensary was one of the oldest institutions of its kind in London. Founded in 1782 to provide free healthcare to poor local residents, the dispensary was first housed on the north side of Great Alie Street (in a shophouse on the site of Central House). It was supported by an ‘on-call’ midwife, able to care for women in their homes, and a resident medical officer alongside visiting surgeons and physicians of standing, including Thomas Southwood Smith in the 1820s and ’30s. By the 1850s, against the backdrop of growing demand from a swollen local population, the Alie Street premises were inadequate. Livery companies, local merchants and sugar bakers underwrote the building project. G. H. Simmonds, the secretary of the dispensary and a surveyor, prepared designs and John Jacobs, a builder on Leman Street, submitted the lowest tender in January 1858. The new Eastern Dispensary opened in February 1859. |
The Eastern Dispensary remained popular until the 1930s. Many of its clinics, which drew patients from around London and surrounding counties, were held in the evenings to ensure patients did not lose income, nor employers manpower. Improved general health caused attendances to drop shortly before a loss of staff caused by the outbreak of war precipitated the dispensary’s closure in 1940. Governors hoped to re-open, but the establishment of the National Health Service in 1946 rendered the dispensary finally redundant.
In 1944 the building was leased to the Jewish Hospitality Committee. After the War it was proposed that the Dispensary should be transferred to the London Hospital; but, since this proved unacceptable to the Charity Commissioners, the assets were transferred to the "Marie Celeste" Samaritan Society by a Charity Commission scheme, sealed in February 1952.