The London Lock Hospital was the first venereal disease clinic.
The London Lock Hospital, which opened on 31 January 1747, was the most famous and first of the Lock Hospitals which were developed for the treatment of syphilis following the end of the use of lazar hospitals, as leprosy declined. The hospital later developed maternity and gynaecology services before being incorporated into the National Health Service in 1948, and finally closed in 1952.
A charitable society had been working to establish this hospital since July 1746. In November of that year a house was bought for this purpose in Grosvenor Place
, London, near Hyde Park Corner
. The founder of the hospital was William Bromfeild. After opening in January 1747, the hospital treated almost 300 patients during its first year; the demand for its services stemmed from the unfounded belief that the treatments then available could be effective.
Thomas Scott was a hospital chaplain here from 1785–1803. During this time he published his Commentary On The Whole Bible and became the founding Secretary of the Church Missionary Society.
The hospital moved in 1842 to 283 Harrow Road in Westbourne Grove. It was renamed The Female Hospital when a new site in Dean Street, Soho, opened for male outpatients in 1862; that was later expanded in 1867, as a result of the Contagious Diseases Act 1864.
The Lock Asylum for the Reception of Penitent Female Patients (also known as the Lock Rescue Home) was proposed in 1787 and opened in 1792 as a refuge for women who had been treated at the Lock Hospital. It was originally sited in Osnaburg Row and moved, first to Knightsbridge
in 1812, and then to Lower Eaton Street in 1816. However this address was felt to be too far from the chapel at Grosvenor Square
that might provide guidance and support for "fallen" women, so the Home moved again in 1849 to adjoin The Female Hospital in Harrow Road. By 1890 Harrow Road consisted of 140 inpatient beds and 40 asylum places for women.
The asylum changed its name in 1893, becoming known as a ’Rescue Home’. The full name of the hospital became the London Lock Hospital and Rescue Home.
A maternity unit opened in 1917 at The Female Hospital, followed by an ophthalmology unit and a genitourinary unit that treated venereal and non-venereal gynaecological disorders. During the Second World War it was used as a Military Isolation Hospital, with Dean Street treating both sexes. A new maternity centre opened at 283A Harrow Road in 1938 and with the formation of the National Health Service it became a part of Paddington Hospital until 1952.
The name dates back to the earlier leprosy hospitals, which came to be known as lock hospitals after the "locks", or rags, which covered the lepers’ lesions. This name was used as far back as medieval times, and was used by lock hospitals including those in Kingsland (established during the reign of Henry VIII) and Kent Street, Southwark as well as the one in Hyde Park Corner
The memory of the hospital continues with the London Lock Hospital Memorial Prize in Sexually Transmitted Diseases at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, which was established by bequest in 1965 by an old student and staff member of the school. With subsequent mergers of London medical schools, it is now part of the awards in communicable diseases for final year medical students at UCL Medical School.