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Our history

A hospital on this site was first founded in 1940 by the Ministry of Health.

The intention was that it should serve as an Emergency Medical Service hospital for local air raid casualties. This proved unnecessary, and on the completion of the buildings in January 1942 they were leased to the medical services of the United States Army.

The American Hospital in Britain was invited to take over the hospital in September 1941, under the general administration of the Wingfield-Morris Orthopaedic Hospital (now the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre). They transferred their activities from Park Prewett Hospital, Basingstoke, on 1 January 1942.

The hospital was opened as the Churchill Hospital by the Duchess of Kent on 27 January 1942. It was the 2nd General Hospital under Colonel Crawford July 1942 - April 1944 and then the 91st General Hospital under Colonel Dyke.

The video below, which has no soundtrack, shows archive footage of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother visiting the Churchill Hospital on 26 July 1944.

Surgeons at the Churchill Hospital on gas mask drill: 1942
Surgeons at the Churchill Hospital on gas mask drill: 1942

When the American authorities left, Oxford City Council took over the buildings, prompted by local hospitals through the Oxford and District Joint Hospitals Board. The Committee of the Radcliffe Infirmary undertook responsibility for the hospital, with some financial support from Oxford City and County Councils, and appointed an Assistant Administrator to take charge. Patients began to arrive in January 1946.

On 1 April 1993, the John Radcliffe Hospital and the Churchill Hospital were united as the Churchill John Radcliffe Hospital, and on 1 April 1994 the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust was formed, the final step in the union of the John Radcliffe and Churchill Hospitals. The Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust merged with the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust on 1 November 2011 to create the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Photographs from the Churchill Hospital's past have been incorporated into works of art in the new Oxford Cancer Centre, opened in 2009 on the Churchill Hospital site. To find out more about the centre and the artwork associated with it, please visit:

Art in the Oxford Cancer Centre

For more on Oxfordshire Health History, visit Oxfordshire Health Archives.

Last reviewed:27 September 2022