Northwick Park Hospital, the north west London hospital that has become a staple for healthcare in the area, celebrated its 50th anniversary.

In fact 50 years ago from October 23, Queen Elizabeth II opened up the hospital – and 50 years later the hospital remains as relevant as ever as it managed to maintain excellent healthcare throughout a global pandemic.

The London Northwest University Healthcare NHS Trust has had a long association with the Royal Family since the hospital opening, including royal visits by Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Sophie of Wessex and Princess Anne.

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Princess Diana at the hospital

But how did it all start?

The hospital, sited at a former golf course, had work beginning from February 1, 1966, as a group of men were tasked to clear the 46-acre site of shrubs, trees and bushes.

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Before any construction

Architect John Weeks said he came up with the design while he was in bed with flu.

Extensive work continued to create the hospital, and by 1970 it was estimated that over 80,000 tons of concrete had been used to create the first phases of the site.

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Northwick Park Hospital under construction

The first two patients were admitted in September 1970, shortly before the Queens visit which attracted a thousand people – including Margaret Thatcher who was the Secretary of State for education and science at the time.

During the visit, the Queen spent nearly two years at the hospital as she also toured the site and the clinical research centre. And her name was listed as the first visitor in the visitor book.

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Queen at Northwick Park Hospital

Then on September 11, 1971, baby Patrice became the first baby to be born at the hospital.

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First baby Patrice

The estimated cost of the buildings which were built over several phases was £15.7m, which made up 804 beds.

A blast from the past

Three of the most unusual employees on the hospital payroll have been a harrier hawk, a guard dog and Jeeves the robot.

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Jeeves the robot

Jeeves was employed on a trial basis to help deliver files and medical samples in the late 90s.

Northwick Park has also proved a popular location with filmmakers over the years including The Omen starring Gregory Peck, in 1976.

The late Bob Peck battled the nuclear state in BAFTA winning TV thriller Edge of Darkness, while The Green Wing, about the lives of staff at the fictional East Hampton Hospital Trust, was shot over a period of months.

The hospital has attracted many celebrities over the years from Olympians Kelly Holmes and Linford Christie to agony aunt Claire Rayner, actor roger Moore and TV host Terry Wogan.

And how about now?

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A modern look at Northwick Park Hospital

This year was a challenging one for the NHS across the country, with Northwick Park Hospital sharing a brunt of the pandemic in the early stages of the pandemic.

But three consultants from Northwick Park and Ealing hospitals under the trust were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday for their hard work over the course of the pandemic.

This includes Ganesh Suntharalingam, who will receive an OBE, and colleagues Nuala Lucas and Gurjinder Singh who were made MBEs.