Why TfL named Mildmay Overground line after HIV hospital


The Mildmay line, which has two branches terminating in Stratford, is one of six separate routes created as TfL gives individual services their own names and colours to make the network easier to navigate.

Here we take a look at why transport bosses decided to give the route, which will be shown by blue parallel lines on TfL maps, the name of Mildmay.

Newham Recorder: The new Overground mapThe new Overground map (Image: TfL/PA)

‘A journey of love and belonging’

Mildmay is the Overground route with the most stops, stretching from the capital’s southwestern suburbs in Richmond and the hub of Clapham Junction, through to bustling Camden and on to key regeneration areas in Hackney and Stratford.

It has been named after Mildmay Mission, a small charitable hospital in Tabernacle Gardens near Shoreditch with a history dating to the mid-19th century.

Despite having only 28 inpatient rooms, the hospital is considered one of London’s most important, providing critical care for Londoners during the HIV/Aids crisis in the 1980s.

The history of the hospital begins the mid-1860s, when deaconesses from St Jude’s church in Mildmay Grove travelled to some of the East End’s worst slums to help care for those affected by a cholera outbreak.

The Overground line itself almost mirrors this journey, transporting passengers from Canonbury and Dalston Kingsland – the closest stations to Mildmay – and further into east London.

In 1877, the first Mildmay Medical Mission was established in a disused warehouse near the Old Nichol slum in Shoreditch, which was severely impacted by cholera.

A new hospital building was opened 15 years later, and in 1948 it was incorporated into the NHS.

Despite a short period of closure in the mid-1980s, Mildmay soon reopened and became Europe’s first hospice for people with HIV/Aids in 1988.

Diana, Princess of Wales famously made three official and 14 unofficial visits to the hospice, where she would often sit with dying patients, holding hands and offering comfort.

In her foreword to ‘A Time to Care’, a book exploring Mildmay Hospital’s response to the Aids crisis, the princess described it as a “remarkable” hospice.

She said: “I have come to admire Mildmay as a place of comfort which cares not only for physical needs but also for emotional and spiritual relief.”

This history, TfL says, has made it “the valued and respected place it is for the LGBTQ+ community today”.

By 2014, the old hospital had been demolished and a new, purpose-built, specialist HIV hospital opened.

The hospital continues to provide care for people with complex and severe HIV-related health conditions to this today, including HIV-associated brain impairment (also known as HAND).

And this, according to Geoff Coleman, chief executive officer for Mildmay Mission Hospital, is why the Mildmay line is “more than just tracks and stations”.

He said: The Mildmay line symbolises a journey of acceptance, love, and belonging – a vibrant thread connecting our collective past, present, and future.”





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