The Rowley Bristow Hospital in Pyrford began its life in 1907 as St Nicholas' Home, one of the homes built by the Church of England Incorporated Society for Providing Homes for Waifs and Strays, later known as the Church of England Childrens' Society.
In 1915, a further building, St Martin's Home, was erected for housing crippled children.
After the 1914-1918 war, Mr W Rowley Bristow, an orthopaedic surgeon at St Thomas's Hospital in London, became connected with the work of the homes. Under his leadership and surgical skill, the character of the institution changed rapidly from homes to a hospital, and many children were successfully treated. The two homes merged in October 1923 and became known as St Nicholas' and St Martin's Orthopaedic Hospital.
Facilities included open air wards, open on one side, for the treatment of surgical tuberculosis. Between 1920 and 1937, there were further additions of open air wards, an operating theatre, heated swimming baths, and the establishment of Special School status for the education of long stay children. In 1937, adult patients were first admitted. On the outbreak of war, the majority of the hospital's beds were taken over by the Emergency Medical Service for service and civilian war casualties.
Following the death of Rowley Bristow in November 1947, the hospital was renamed the Rowley Bristow Orthopaedic Hospital in his honour. The Church of England Children's Society arranged for the hospital to be transferred to the National Health Service with effect from 1 April 1950. The hospital closed in 1990 and its functions were transferred to St Peter's Hospital, Chertsey.
The Rowley Bristow Hospital was internationally known as being a centre of excellence in the field of orthopaedic surgery, pioneering research and nursing care to repair and reconstruct bones affected by diseases such as rickets, polio and TB as well as accident and war time injuries. THe world-wide reputation of the work of the Rowley Bristow Orthopaedic Centre lives on from its base in the £8.2 million Prince Edward Wing at St Peter's Hospital.
A collection of records of the Rowley Bristow Hospital, 1917-1993, including committee minutes and admission records, is held at Surrey History Centre under ref; 6248/-.