Location, Location, Location

Harley Street Sign
London’s Harley Street is known throughout the world as the centre for medical establishments.

Now that it is the new home of the London Vision Clinic I decided to carry out some research into how this area – stretching from Oxford Street to the Marylebone Road – became synonymous with private health care.

Today it is owned by the de Walden family and managed by the Howard de Walden estate which aims to keep a mixture of residential, commercial and medical properties in the area.

At the beginning of the 18th century the village of Marylebone consisted of just a smattering of houses, but by the late 1790s the area had become a magnet for the fashionable and wealthy and the typical grand Georgian homes we see today -with their large rectangular sash windows and parapets, giving the appearance of flat roofs – soon filled the area around Harley Street and Cavendish Square.

By 1860 many doctors had moved into the area – attracted by the quality of the properties, their central location and proximity to the major train stations of Kings Cross, St. Pancras and Marylebone. In turn these doctors invited colleagues to work with them from their prestigious homes and Harley Street began to be known as a medical centre.

Records show that there were around twenty doctors working from Harley Street in 1860; 80 by 1900 and almost 200 by 1914. When the National Health Service was established in 1948 there were around 1,500. Today some 3,000 people are employed in health related businesses in Harley Street.

Next time on the blog you can read about some of the London Vision Clinic’s famous neighbours from the past.