75 Years at the L&D Hospital

Luton & Dunstable Hospital top right.

The Luton and Dunstable Hospital is this year celebrating its 75th year.

The present L&D Hospital site (pictured top right) was a 10 acre site purchased in the 1930s from Electolux for £3,800 (£190,000 in today's money). Back then, the site was in the middle of the countryside. Fund raising took place, including a generous legacy left by a local grocer, and building work started in 1937. It was subsequently opened by HM Queen Mary on 14th February 1939. The running costs in that first year were £146,000, whereas today's running costs are about £240,000,000.

When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, the still private hospital had to appeal for extra beds from the Ministry of Health. Part of the grounds were dug to grow vegetables during the war, and hens were kept to provide eggs for the hospital. In August 1940 German bombers dropped 194 bombs in a single night on Luton, injuring 140 people and killing 59. The L&D Outpatient area became a casualty clearing area while surgeons and nurses worked through the night. 4,754 members of the armed miltary were admitted to the L&D Hospital for treatment during the war. The hospital in 1940 was rated excellent in the Ministry of Health "Survey of Hospital Services of London and the surrounding area", and was one of 21 recommended for further development.

The NHS was begun in 1948. In the early 1950s 1,300 babies were born each year at the hospital; nowadays its around 5,500.

*Article adapted from ambassador membership magazine of the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, February 2014.

*Top picture: M1 Junction 11 being built near Luton & Dunstable Hospital in late 1950s. Photo from Luton News archive. The image above is linked from http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BF4WSGDCMAAgttg.jpg:large