The lost Long Reach & Joyce Green Hospitals on the Dartford Marshes

by Ian Tokelove
Joyce Green Hospital seen from the air ©

Joyce Green Hospital and Long Reach were isolation hospitals, built on the Dartford Marshes in the early 20th century.

The remote nature of the Dartford Marshes made them ideal for isolation hospitals. Contagious smallpox patients were already being treated in the Long Reach hospital ships, moored just off the marshes in the Thames. However, numbers of patients were rising, and the ships were in poor condition.

As numbers of smallpox patients threatening to overwhelm the three hospital ships, construction began on Joyce Green Hospital. The hospital opened on former agricultural land in December 1903.

The hospital was of impressive size and layout, an eye-catching outline on maps of the time. Joyce Green Hospital was first used as an isolation hospital, and then as a training hospital. The hospital was demolished in 2000 and almost all trace is now lost beneath modern housing. The hospital’s cemetery still exists, just south of the A206 dual carriageway.

The hospital was served by a tramway which connected it to the Thames. This tramway still partially exists, as part of Route 125 of the National Cycle Network. On Google Maps the tramway is currently labelled as Marsh Street North.

Long Reach

As construction began at Joyce Green Hospital, temporary buildings were erected just inland of the hospital boats. These temporary hospital units were known as Long Reach. The location is now overgrown with tangled woodland, and it is unlikely that much survives following demolition in 1974. The route of the tramway clearly divides here, with one line breaking away to the northwest, parallel to the Thames and towards Long Reach. However, the path is quickly engulfed in brambles and is currently unpassable.

Another, larger complex of temporary buildings to the north west of the main hospital was known as The Orchard. The remains of the Orchard are accessible via unofficial paths leading from Joyce Green Lane, and from the tramway shortly before it joins Binnie Road.

Long Reach hospital seen from the air, during flooding in 1953. For more images see ©
Long Reach hospital seen from the air, during flooding in 1953. For more images see

Joyce Green Hospital – useful links

Long Reach – useful links

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