Bob Marchant, honorary member of the Guinea Pig club and once an operating theatre technician at the Queen Victoria Hospital (QVH) under Sir Archibald McIndoe, kindly gave a few of us museum staff a tour of the hospital.
Built as a town hospital, the impact of WWII led to the building of extra wards in the grounds of QVH for military burns victims from around the world to receive treatment. Built from cedar wood for hygiene and longevity they have stood the test of time (see the image below: Ward III now the Spitfire restaurant).
As financial support was offered from Canada and America in gratitude for their men receiving such incredible surgery, new buildings were erected to accommodate a growing need for extra operating theatres and treatment rooms. Once an extensive grassy plot, there was little concern about where on the site buildings should stand. If you have been to the QVH you may have experienced the maze of corridors and the inside-outside walkways between departments.
Importantly the history of QVH is reflected all around. The Spitfire restaurant and the Guinea Pig club emblem topiary are just a couple of examples, can you find any more when you next visit…?
To learn more about the history of QVH, developments in reconstructive surgery and the Guinea Pig Club, please visit East Grinstead Museum.