“The Royal Free / Eastman site on Gray’s Inn Road was originally the barracks of London and Westminster Light Horse Volunteers, a unit formed in response to the threat of French invasion in 1779. The barracks consisted of the quadrangle with a north and a south wing, and a stable block at the rear of the courtyard. The Volunteers were permanently disbanded in 1833.
On 31st August 1842 the Royal Free Hospital, then based in Hatton Garden, took a lease on the property and a public appeal was launched for funds. Their move was completed in 1844.
The Hospital at first used the barracks buildings (including stables) but gradually replaced them with purpose-built accommodation: The north (Sussex) wing was rebuilt in 1856, the south (Victoria) wing in 1876, and the west wing (the Alexandra Building) fronting on to Gray’s Inn Road in 1893.
After the Royal Free Hospital moved to Hampstead in 1974, the Eastman Dental Hospital and the Institute expanded to occupy all the vacant buildings on the 256 Gray’s Inn Road site.
In 2020 we moved to state-of-the art facilities in the heart of Bloomsbury and UCL.
In 1948, the Eastman became independent of the Royal Free and its teaching arm became the Postgraduate Dental Institute of the Postgraduate Medical Federation. The objectives of the Institute were to:
- Train consultants, specialists and teachers in various branches of dentistry;
- Provide facilities for, and research by, members of staff and students;
- Provide clinical and laboratory facilities, and instruction for candidates working for higher degrees or diplomas;
- Provide short courses for general practitioners.
In 1992 the Institute was renamed the Eastman Dental Institute.
The Institute’s CPD facilities are currently located separately at 123 Gray’s Inn Road although these will also relocate to the Rockefeller Building in 2020.”
From the Historic England entry:
“Historical interest: * as a purpose-built specialist clinic and headquarters of a medical institution which has played a major role in the development of modern public dental healthcare in the UK and which was the first of five Eastman dental clinics in major European cities, the others being Rome (1933); Brussels (1935); Stockholm (1936) and Paris (1937).
Eastman provided £200,000 of the cost and Lord Riddell, the Chairman, and Sir Albert Levy, the Honorary Treasurer of the Royal Free Hospital, each gave £50,000. The architects chosen were Sir John Burnet and Partners who had designed Kodak House in 1911. The clinic, with a plan resembling the Rochester Dispensary, provided free dental care for the people of Holborn, St Pancras, Finsbury and Islington, and three wards for oral, ear nose and throat, cleft lip and palate surgery. It was the first of five Eastman Dental Clinics built in capital cities of Europe.”
From the British Dental Journal of 10.11.07:
“The roots of The Eastman Dental Clinic and Institute of Dental Surgery (established 1947) go back to Rochester, New York State, USA where George Eastman was born in 1854.
The Dental Clinic came about from an encounter between George Eastman (founder of the Eastman Kodak Co), who suffered with a painful and ongoing dental problem, and his dentist Harvey Jacob Burkhart, who provided him with dentures that had a significant positive impact on George Eastman’s appearance and physical function.
In 1915, George Eastman was persuaded to supplement the funding of the Rochester Dental Dispensary, after Harvey Jacob Burkhart had convinced him of the devastating consequences in adulthood of a lack of childhood tooth care. The new Forsyth Dental Clinic in Boston made quite an impression on George Eastman, so he decided to go one step further and create the new Rochester Dental Dispensary which aimed to eliminate mouth, nose and throat diseases in children. The $403,000 centre opened in 1917.
The first director was Harvey Jacob Burkhart, who would later be revered as the founding father of dental health. His notion that preventative dentistry would not be attainable without a new generation of hygienists to monitor young patients both at home and in school was seminal in the formation of a new kind of dental public health service.
Harvey Jacob Burkhart’s Dental Dispensary provided the first structured training programmes in dentistry for children, influenced by the director’s absorption of Abraham Flexner’s 1910 Carnegie Report on American Medical Education, which stressed science-based medical education and the inspection of postgraduate training schemes.
Hence, Harvey Jacob Burkhart’s Dental Dispensary provided the first structured education programmes in children’s dentistry. Unfortunately, Harvey Jacob Burkhart did not get along well with the Dean of Rochester Medical School, George Hoyt Whipple, resulting in the Dispensary staying as a children’s clinic until it merged with the Rochester Medical School in 1998, some 46 years after Harvey Jacob Burkhart’s death.
George Eastman donated £200,000 in 1926 to fund a dental clinic in London, UK after being approached by the Chairman of the Royal Free Hospital, Lord Riddell. This was in addition to donations of £50,000 each from Lord Riddell and the Royal Free honorary treasurer.
On 20 November 1931, the Eastman Dental Clinic opened in front of Neville Chamberlain and the American Ambassador. The clinic was incorporated into the Royal Free Hospital and was committed to providing dental care for disadvantaged children from central London.
Unfortunately, by the time the London clinic was opened, George Eastman was in severe pain and his mobility was very limited. After meticulously redrafting his will, on 14 March 1932 George Eastman shot himself, leaving the note, ‘To my friends, my work is done. Why wait?’
Charitable causes, the arts and education had received £18 million from George Eastman over the years…”
“Eastman Dental Hospital Specialist dental hospital treating patients referred by dentists and doctors. Does not deal with patients who are not registered with a general dental practitioner. No longer provides an emergency walk-in clinic for adults but operates a limited emergency dental service for children which usually operates Mon-Fri 9am-11am and 2pm-3.30pm. This is only for existing child patients or those with letters from their own dentists.”