The Holborn Union Building was built in 1877-79 as the Holborn and Finsbury Union Workhouse Infirmary by Henry Saxon Snell & Sons.

Archway Tavern
View of Archway tavern (photo taken in 1872)

The main, central building and the two wings (at the north and south ends) contained open wards for patients.

Female patients were treated in the southern half of the building; male patients were treated in the northern half. A "recreation ground" at the rear was split across the centre to keep patients apart.

In 1948 it became part of the Whittington Hospital, known as the Archway Wing. The buildings were in use as a hospital until 1998 when it was sold by the NHS to Middlesex University and University College London (UCL) for use as a medical teaching campus. 

Front of infirmary (photo taken in the 1950s)

Looking back

Throughout their history the buildings have been adapted to suit changing medical and teaching practices and the needs of patients.

A new nurses’ wing was added at the southern end of the site, at the end of the 19th century. In the 20th century, new lift and stair cores were added in a piecemeal fashion along with new accommodation on the rear of the site — including the concrete Furnival Building on Highgate Hill. With this legacy of changes and adaptation, there is very little left inside the buildings to show their age or history.

Looking ahead

In 2012 Middlesex University and UCL decided to sell the site as the buildings were no longer suitable for teaching or healthcare. We bought the site in 2014. Since then we have appointed a design team and started to consult on proposals for redevelopment of the site.

Aerial view
Click image to see larger version and names of buildings

Archway town centre has many positive and negative characteristics. We would like to build on the positive aspects and, where we can, help address the negative ones.

Archway Town 2
Archway Tavern now

We have also started a number of surveys into the condition of the existing buildings, trees and ground conditions. Along with our research and analysis of the site and area, these will help influence the design process over the coming months.