Queen Victoria Hospital

guinea_pig_club

Our heritage

A brief history

QVH is proud of its history and heritage.

The origins of our hospital date back to 1863 when the East Grinstead Cottage Hospital was founded. Following a number of incarnations as a small community hospital, the Queen Victoria Hospital, as it became known by the 1930s, moved to its current site in 1936.

In 1939 a surgeon named Archibald McIndoe started work at the hospital. Less than 10 years later, New-Zealand born McIndoe was knighted in recognition of his pioneering plastic surgery techniques and holistic approach to the treatment of allied aircrew during World War II. These young men, who became known as the 'Guinea Pigs', had been badly burned or crushed in their planes, many during the Battle of Britain.

McIndoe's legacy lives on to this day as QVH remains the regional centre for specialist plastic and reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation. The modern-day QVH burns centre bears McIndoe's name as does the research foundation that shares our site on Holtye Road and with whom the hospital works closely to continue to develop pioneering techniques for the treatment of burns.

We have maintained strong links with military patients and regularly treat service men and women injured in Afghanistan and other campaigns. In addition, QVH Consultant plastic surgeon Tania Cubison also serves as a Lt Col in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

QVH has also continued to build on its foundations as a provider of community services for the local population of East Grinstead and surrounding villages. Our modern day Minor Injuries Unit and sleep disorders centre are both situated in the handsome, red-brick Jubilee Centre built in 1936.

Artefacts

Artefacts from the hospital's history have been collected over many years and were, between 1994 and 2008, available to view in the museum based at the hospital. The collection was carefully cared for and curated by Mr Bob Marchant, a previous QVH employee who is now secretary to the Guinea Pig Club.

In 2009, this collection - comprising several thousand objects including equipment, surgical instruments and prostheses, photographs, paintings and other memorabilia - was transferred to the care of the East Grinstead Museum. The museum is a professional and accredited facility whose expert team has, for the first time, catalogued the collection. The artefacts are now stored in a controlled environment and work is underway to stabilise, preserve and exhibit them in perpetuity. To arrange to view objects in the collection, please contact the museum directly on 01342 302233 or info@eastgrinsteadmuseum.org.uk.

QVH, in collaboration with the East Grinstead Museum, plans to display a small, carefully selected range of objects on loan from the collection on the hospital site in future.

Archives

QVH's historical collection also includes a unique collection of records, notes and photographs that document the history of the hospital and the development of modern plastic surgery techniques. The archives include handwritten papers by Sir Archibald McIndoe and the medical records of his famous Guinea Pig Club of patients. In 2010 the trust was awarded a grant by the Wellcome Trust to have its archives surveyed by a team of professional archivists. The team will investigate and catalogue the thousands of individual documents and make recommendations on how they should be preserved and how they can be made more accessible to historians and students of medical history. The project is currently in progress and more information will be provided here as it develops.