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The Royal Marsden Hospital

The Royal Marsden was the first hospital in the world dedicated to the study and treatment of cancer. It was founded as the Free Cancer Hospital in 1851 by Dr William Marsden at 1, Cannon Row, Westminster. Marsden, deeply affected by the death of his wife Elizabeth Ann from cancer, resolved to classify tumours, research the causes and find new treatments.

The hospital at first consisted solely of a dispensary and the drugs prescribed were palliative and aimed at treating symptoms, but it allowed William Marsden the opportunity to study and research the disease.

The hospital quickly outgrew its original premises as it became apparent that some patients required inpatient care. It moved locations several times during the 1850s until its benefactors decided to find a permanent solution. Funds were raised to build a dedicated new building on Fulham Road, Chelsea and the hospital moved to its new site in 1862.

The hospital was granted its Royal Charter of Incorporation by King George V in 1910 and became known as The Cancer Hospital (Free). This was subsequently changed by King Edward VIII to include the word ‘Royal’ and in 1954 the hospital was renamed The Royal Marsden Hospital in recognition of the vision and commitment of its founder.

When the National Health Service was formed in 1948 the Royal Marsden became a post-graduate teaching hospital. In response to the need to expand to treat more patients and train more doctors, a second hospital in Sutton, Surrey was opened in 1962.

On Wednesday, January 2, 2008, a fire broke out in the top floor of the hospital, which caused the evacuation of all patients and staff from the unit. The entire roof of the hospital was burned through. Patients were dispersed to a local church and surrounding facilities. BBC News article Sky News Article

It is thought that the fire broke out on the fourth floor of the building, which is a laboratory area used for research. Suggestions were that the area affected is a relatively new wing, built in the 1980s.

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