Botley’s Park War Emergency Hospital, later St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey, showing patients in beds on the veranda, 1940 - 1945

Botley’s Park War Emergency Hospital, later St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey, showing patients in beds on the veranda, 1940 – 1945

St Peter’s Hospital is situated on the Chertsey / Lyne border. It has its origins in the Botley’s Park estate, which, by 1934, was a “colony for mental defectives”, with a group of ‘villas’ built to house patients. By 1939, the government was planning for the threat of war, and ordered that all hospitals should prepare for war casualties, particularly those situated only a reasonable distance from London. The entire Botleys site was selected as an Emergency War Hospital as an annex to St. Thomas’s Hospital in London. Botleys was charged with receiving casualties from air-raids in London, and also to treat sick and wounded Service personnel.

‘Botleys Park War Hospital’ consisted of 20 huts, grouped around a central ramped corridor, outlying buildings were for nurse’s homes and stores, and Botleys Park Mansion accommodated doctors and nursing staff. In addition to evacuated London hospitals, convoys of sick and wounded were admitted from France, especially the survivors from the Dunkirk evacuation, and later it took in many casualties at the time of the D-Day Landings. The hospital was also used for victims of the London Blitz. At this time there were 1,400 war hospital beds and 1,050 beds for other patients. On the 28th May 1940 Her Majesty the Queen (later the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) visited the War Hospital to see the wounded soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk.

By 1947 the hospital was split from Botleys Park Colony and became St. Peter’s Hospital, its name derived from Chertsey’s Church. Botleys Park Colony continued to function as a hospital for the mentally ill until it was eventually amalgamated into the main St. Peter’s complex. St. Peter’s continued to grow and innovate during the second half of the 20th century. The St. Peter’s Training School for Nurses was opened in March 1947, and the same year the hospital started serving a much wider area including Bagshot, Egham, Walton-on-Thames and Woking. An Accident Centre was established in 1962, and New Operating Theatres were opened in 1967 by HRH the Duchess of Kent. These were followed by a Casualty Department and an X-ray unit, and as new wards were built, they were named after distinguished members of staff. A new Departmental Outpatients department was opened in 1981, relieving previously cramped conditions.

Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) visiting Botley’s Park War Emergency Hospital in 1940. She is walking next to Cecelia Morris, Matron of Botley’s Park.

Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) visiting Botley’s Park War Emergency Hospital in 1940. She is walking next to Cecelia Morris, Matron of Botley’s Park.

The Maternity Unit opened in 1970 – a separate building near the main entrance to the grounds. It is now the Maternity Unit for the whole of the North West Surrey District. The Maternity Unit soon included a Special Care Baby Unit, which became a major centre of its kind in the area. It was designated as a Regional Centre for neonatal intensive care. A refurbishment place in 1991 and further refurbishment of the entire Unit has since taken place. In July 1992 the Blanche Heriot Unit for Genito-Urinary Medicine was formally opened on the ground floor of the same building.

1990 also saw the relocation of the Rowley and Bristow Trauma and Orthopedic Clinic from Pyrford to St. Peter’s. The early 1990s also witnessed the opening of the new Duchess of Kent Wing, with a new Post Graduate Education Centre and modern wards. The later 1990s saw further major developments. In April 1998 the St. Peter’s NHS Trust merged with that of Ashford Hospital. New Accident and Emergency and Orthopedic Units opened in summer 1998. St. Peter’s Hospital now serves Woking, Weybridge, Chertsey, Staines and Walton on Thames; a major centre for medical treatment well beyond the boundaries of the Borough.