HISTORY OF HARLEY STREET LONDON
Harley Street has become synonymous with doctors and their practices. It is famous as having the largest concentration of doctors, surgeons and medical practitioners in one street. Situated in the heart of London, there are clinics here for treatments for ailments from A to Z. Be it addictions or allergies, Back and Spine or Cancer, Dental or Endocrine, Foot & Ankle or Gynaecology, Hip Replacement or IVF, Memory or Neurology, Obesity or Pain Management, Sexual Health or Travel, Urology & Varicose Veins or Women’s Health – to name a few in alphabetical order, they can all be treated by specialists located here.
Harley street is full of clinics equipped with most advance treatments and professional doctors. With over 3000 medical specialists operating here, it is quite famous for cosmetic treatments as well as advance laser treatments. The place has a medical history dating back to the 18th century.
History of Harley Street
The history of how it all came to be concentrated here is interesting. Located in the City of Westminster, it lies between Oxford Street and Regents Park, close to these two tube stations. It is easily accessible also, from Marylebone and the King’s Cross railway hubs. The street is named after Edward Harley, who was the second Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer. The year 1715 saw him building impressive houses in Harley Street and at the same time developing the areas around, like the Cavendish Square. From the Duke of Newcastle, who owned the Marylebone estate, this land passed down to the Dukes of Portland and in the late 1800’s was inherited by Lucy Joan Ellis, whose late husband had been the 6th Lord Howard de Walden. So ever since, the Harley Street is part of the de Walden Estate and managed by them.
The elite buildings in the Harley Street were used by doctors as their private residence. The opulent houses combined with the central location, drew many doctors to the area, and they started setting up their practices here. These doctors invited others to join them and thus started the thriving medical area. Once the Medical Society of London was established here in Chandos Street in 1873 and the Royal Society of Medicine in 1912 on Wimpole Street, all in the same neighbourhood, the numbers just increased. It is recorded that in 1860, there were about 20 doctors concentrated here, and by 1900, it grew to 80 and by 1914 jumped to 200, and by the time the National Health Service came into existence in 1948, there was a staggering number of 1500 doctors and practices here. Today, with developments and advances in specialities, there are 3000 medical personnel here. Their private clinics are no longer the primitive one’s run by the light of lamps but are inundated with highly qualified specialists, bringing in medical treatment with state of the art equipment. It still retains its Georgian terraced townhouses, but has added beautiful and grand buildings and some mansion flats from the subsequent Victorian and Edwardian periods.
Famous Names connected with Harley Street
The name known worldwide as the ‘Lady with the Lamp’, Florence Nightingale, would rank as the foremost medical professional, who spent 14 months working in Harley Street. She was the Superintendant at the ‘Establishment for Gentlemen during Illness’ located here. On her return from the Crimean War, where she earned her endearing title in 1860, she set up the Nightingale Training School for nurses at St Thomas Hospital. Today, the school is part of King’s College, London.
Other talented doctors who practiced in Harley Street are Sir Henry Thompson, who in 1870 specialised in the genitor-urinary tract surgery and was the Surgeon Extraordinaire for the Kin of Brussels. Specialising in vaccines and bacteriology, Doctor Edward Bach had established his hospital here in 1920.
Sir Frederick Treves, a famous surgeon of Victorian and Edwardian age also belongs to Harley Street. He was the first doctor who successfully conducted appendectomy in England in 1888 and saved the life of King Edward V11.
The Royal Family and Harley Street
The most famous Royal connected to this famous street is King George the 6th, the father of Queen Elizabeth II, who reigns today. His chronic stammering brought him to Lionel Logue, located in a set of dingy rooms in Harley Street, who cured him of the condition. More recently, Sir Nigel Southway, from Harley Street, was the doctor for the Royals. Prince Charles has his private doctor in Harley Street too. Celebrities from all over the world visit doctors in Harley Street especially for cosmetic treatment, be it Botox treatment or for treatment for aesthetic enhancements.
Today Harley Street is famous worldwide for its medical history and the treatments available in the area. For almost two hundred years Harley Street has been standing for its medical excellence and the glory still continues.