Victorian surgery at the Old Operating Theatre

Address:
Old Operating Theatre, 9A St. Thomas’s Street, Southwark, London51.505016 -0.088211
Dates & Time:
Every Saturday (unless replaced by a special event)
Starts at 2 PM
Tickets & Cost:
Adult £6.50; Senior £5; Child (under 16) £3.50; Family (up to 2 adults and 4 children) £14
Booking is recommended, as you might not get a place if you just turn up on the day. There is a maximum capacity of 60 people
See oldoperatingtheatre.com for more details
Note: This event is not recommended for children under the age of 12
Tel:
0207 188 2679
Parking:
Car parks near Old Operating Theatre
Taxis:
Cab firms close to Old Operating Theatre
Buses:
17, 21, 35, 40, 43, 47, 48, 133, 141, 149, 343, 381, 521, RV1
Bus fares in London
Trains:
Borough NRN, Cannon Street CRC DSC, London Bridge JUB NRN, Monument CRC DSC
The closest station to Old Operating Theatre is London Bridge
Train fares in London
Disclaimer: Event details can change at short notice and you should reconfirm everything before making plans

Enjoy some speed surgery -- Victorian style!

In the days before anaesthesia and antibiotics had been invented operations had to be extremely quick, because the chances of a patient dying on the table or getting an infection were high. (And also the constant screaming must have got on their nerves.) If the patient was lucky he would pass out from the pain within the first few seconds, but if he was made of sterner stuff then all he had to dull the pain was a pre-show whiskey and a block of wood to bite on.

They were made of tough stuff in those days! We don't appreciate how nice and easy we've got it nowadays -- all we have to do now is put our pyjamas on before the doctors knock us out with some sleeping potion. But if you'd like to get a taste of the horrors that the Victorians had to endure then get yourself down to the Old Operating Theatre for a demonstration.

The Old Operating Theatre is a remarkable time-capsule that has somehow managed to survive in the rafters of the old St. Thomas's Hospital. It is sitting at the top of a tower near The Shard, and when you tiptoe up the creaky old stairs you find yourself in a... er... how can we best describe it? -- it's like a witch's cottage in the forest. It sounds daft, but you will totally understand what we mean when you see it. Check out the photos in Craig's review of the Old Operating Theatre to show you we're not joking.

The actual Operating Theatre itself is like a mini-amphitheatre, with some wooden balconies around a table in the pit. That's where the patient will be lying (screaming) while you watch (cower) in the stands. Whilst he is writhing in pain the doctor will explain some of the methods the Victorians used, and how they compare with the methods today.

Craig has never been to this actual event (he's too frightened), but have a read of that review on his blog to see what the Operating Theatre is like inside.

If you're interested in early medicine then you might like to give the Florence Nightingale Museum a try as well. Or how about the Alexander Fleming Museum in Paddington Hopsital? The Science Museum has quite a lot of exhibits about early medicine.

 

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Craig’s review – “You'll find the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret in an attic at the top of a tower, and you have to climb up a tight and winding wooden staircase to reach it. It's not your normal kind of museum. It's like a creaky-old cottage in the rafters -- a bit like a witch's cottage in the woods. You probably think that I'm exaggerating, but I promise you I'm not. I'm bein… continued”

Read Craig’s Old Operating Theatre review

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