History of Medway Maritime Hospital

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Medway Maritime Hospital has had a very exciting history in the NHS.  From 1810 to 1828 Sick Sailors were looked after on ex warships that were turned into floating Hospitals on the River Medway. The prevalent illnesses were Cholera, Thyphoid and Smallpox. In 1828 Melville Hospital (Naval) was opened, overlooking the main Chatham Dockyard gates. It had eighteen wards, divided into three sections and held 252 patients.

By the 20th Century a bigger hospital was needed due to the increase in naval personnel. Plans were drawn up for a new hospital between Windmill Hill (now Road) and the Great Lines. The hospital was designed by J.T.C. Murray and erected under the direction of Sir Henry Pilkington; it cost £800,000 to build. In 1905 Melville Hospital closed and was turned into additional Barrack buildings for the Royal Marines.
Apart from the service tunnels for pipes and drains etc. There are also rumours of a tunnel from either the Dockyard or the former Royal Naval Barracks HMS Pemboke, which i personally think are just local myths and maybe confused with the "separate" tunnels that actually do exist in those areas.
The new Royal Naval Hospital was opened on July 26th 1905 by King Edward XII, with much pomp and ceremony. A long letter was read to the King inviting him to give a Royal opening of the Hospital. Then after a short service in Saint Luke’s Church (which used to stand in the centre of the hospital grounds) the King was presented with a specially made key, which the King placed in a lock, turned it and declared the hospital open.

More recently Medway Maritime Hospital has become a test centre for one of the medical profession's most prestigious examinations. For the first time in the hospital's history, it has hosted the Royal College of Physician's Paces exam (Practical Assessment of Clinical Examination Skills).  It involved 30 doctors, who were taking the test, 11 examiners assessing them, and 40 patients with a variety of medical conditions.  Patients were placed in "stations" and the doctors under examination visited each station to examine the patient and take down their medical history, while their work was monitored by examiners from the Royal College.

Please be aware this website has nothing to do with Medway Maritime Hospital. For more information about them visit their site. read more on Medway Maritime Hospital. or see the Official Medway Foundation Trust -


Looking to contact the hospital?

Address: Windmill Road, Gillingham, Kent, ME7 5NY

Tel: 01634 830 000

Departments and services
Critical care
Pain medicine
Cancer services
Breast care
Lung cancer and mesothelioma
Macmillan Cancer Care Unit
Children's services
Oliver Fisher Special Care Baby Unit
Preston Skreens