London audio tour: The challenging isle: Soho's contribution to healthcare history

The challenging isle: Soho's contribution to healthcare history

Walking Tour

35 mins

About the Tour

At the heart of the great metropolis lies an island, a foreign land in a sea of Englishness. After the wealthy and gentry departed Soho in the middle of the 18th century, successive waves of refugees arrived creating a multi-cultural world that attracted artists, revolutionaries, writers and musicians. The atmosphere has encouraged individuality, creativity and entrepreneurship. It has been somewhere to take risks, including in health care. It was here that the first hospitals in London for women, for ear diseases and for men with venereal disease were established. It was also where the first and most famous private anatomy school was built. The contrast between bohemian Soho and establishment London is well illustrated by two towering figures in the history of health care, Mary Seacole, who you will encounter at the start, and Florence Nightingale, who you will meet at the end of the walk, in St James's.

This walk is based on one of seven walks in Walking London's Medical History:

Tour Producer


Nick Black

Having qualified in medicine, I have spent my career evaluating health care and developing ways in which we can assess the quality of care people receive and ways of improving it. For the past 30 years I have worked at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, a post-graduate school with students from throughout the world. In recent years I have spent increasing amounts of time advising the NHS and government agencies as to how care might be improved. While achieving change is always difficult, it is essential for policymakers to understand the historical roots of how and why things are the way they are. My book, Walking London's Medical History, attempts to raise awareness and understanding of our current health services, the first step to the changes that are necessary.

Major Landmarks

  • Crimean War Memorial

  • Leicester Square

Directions to Starting Point

This tour starts at the exit of Tottenham Court Road underground station (Oxford Street exit).

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

There are many restaurants, cafes and bars to choose from along the route.

Best time of day

Any time of day


As in any major city, take care crossing roads and look after your belongings.


Walking through Soho is a fascinating experience at any time but this tour offers a whole new way of seeing it and being there. Nick Black's authoritative commentary on the medical and nursing history of some of the buildings is a wonderful way of seeing the development of the area through new eyes. A brilliant walk.

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , almost 5 years ago

Thanks. I hope you'll enjoy a second walk that will be available on VoiceMap very soon.

Posted by Nick , over 4 years ago
Preview mode limited to first 3 locations.
The challenging isle: Soho's contribution to healthcare history