Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Take two, and call me in the morning!

The London Lock Hospital was the first venereal disease clinic, being the most famous and first of the Lock Hospitals, which opened on January 31, 1747.

The Lock Hospital was developed for the treatment of syphilis following the end of its use as places to treat leprosy. Later the hospital served the needs of maternity and gynaecology physicians until its close in 1952.

Originally, a chairitable society worked to establish the hospital, and a house was found for the purpose in Grovenor Place, in London, near Hyde Park Corner. Its founder was William Bromfield, and when the hospital opened, it treated over 300 patients in its first year of operation, the demand for its services stemming from the unfounded belief that the treatments then available could be effective.

The name Lock dates back to the years when rags, or "locks" were given to patients to cover their leprosy lesions. The name dates back to medieval times.

The Lock Hospital is just one of the many alternative titles for a popular, widespread, traditional British folk song,   The Unfortunate Lad, a warning against venereal disease, dating from the late 18th century. The hospital is often mentioned by name in the first verse:
"As I was walking down by the Lock Hospital,
As I was walking one morning of late,
Who did I spy but my own dear comrade,
Wrapped in flannel, so hard is his fate."
The chorus (or subsequent verses) mention the "salts and pills of white mercury" which might have saved the unfortunate youth's life if only his lover had warned him in time.

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