Views from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Professor brings London’s medical history to life

An updated and expanded edition of Professor Nick Black’s award-winning book, Walking London’s Medical History, is published by CRC Press this week. This guide to the fascinating history of health care from medieval times to the present day features seven walks in central London, each with a key theme.

The new edition also covers the care provided for Londoners beyond the city with a motoring tour of Kent covering asylums, military hospitals, convalescent homes and 18th century sea-bathing institutions.

The first edition won awards in 2007 at both the BMA and Society of Authors book awards. It also received praise in several media outlets, including Time Out, and coverage on BBC News.

As Professor Black says: “Walking London’s Medical History allows the reader to understand the development of health care through the ages and why health services developed the way they did.

“Each walk helps to preserve London’s heritage as former health care buildings are increasingly converted into hotels, offices, homes and shops, with public knowledge of their original function in danger of being lost.”

Containing maps and illustrations of over 120 buildings, Walking London’s Medical History examines key themes including competition between the Church, Crown and City for control of healthcare; the changing fortunes of particular districts and the transformation of health care from trade to profession.

In so doing, the book takes as much interest in the six ambulance stations built in 1915 by the London County Council as it does in the grandest teaching hospital.

Wendy Moore, of the BMJ, said the book “provides not only exercise for the legs but enlightenment for the mind”.

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