Above an old church next to London Bridge station is an old operating theatre, which is now a museum, and will reopen next month following restoration work.
The Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret had to close last year for the replacement of its pyramid skylight, which looked down upon the original wooden operating table, the scene of lifesaving surgical procedures between 1822 and 1862.
The skylight was vital to the medical operations that took place in the theatre, as this was all being done before the advent of modern lighting — so operations were typically in the middle of the day to maximise the amount of light available.
Not just for the surgeon, but also for the students who were invited in to watch.
When the operating theatre opened as a museum in 1962, an unsympathetic metal-framed pyramid skylight window was introduced where the original had been. This became completely outdated, and by last year, had suffered cracks in its glass, with thick foliage growing across too, reducing the daylight. Now, the light will flood into the Museum once again, with the introduction of a visually-sympathetic steel and aluminium hipped roof lantern skylight.
Now that the restoration has been completed, the museum will reopen on Friday 21 April 2023 — and on this reopening day, entry to the museum will be completely free of charge. No need to book, just turn up on the day – when the museum will be open from 10:30am to 5pm.
Entry for adults is usually £8.45, and that entry price will be renewed from the Saturday onwards.
As the museum re-opens, it will also open with a new exhibition, featuring twenty original artworks from local artists, displayed among the Museum’s historical collection.
The Old Operating Theatre Museum is on St Thomas Street just around the corner from Guys Hospital and London Bridge station.
The average length of visit is about 45 minutes, but do note that as it’s above an old church, entry to the museum is up a spiral staircase, so not that accessible to people with mobility issues.