Commuters to Birmingham New Street Station this morning (Monday 21 November) have been greeted by a stunning and giant historical image of Birmingham Children’s Hospital, on Steelhouse Lane, in celebration of the hospital and charity’s 160th anniversary, which it marks this year.

The 7m x 8m installation, located on the floor of the station’s main concourse, showcases the iconic, red brick, Victorian-era building, which the hospital calls home, as it was in the early 1900s. Visitors who take a closer look will be able to see the image is a mosaic made up of over 850 faces of past and current patients and staff members.

The specialist hospital currently treats 90,000 sick kids locally and nationally every year, and this installation celebrates just how many lives this incredible hospital has impacted over the decades and how many people are part of its proud history. Visitors and commuters are encouraged to donate to support the hospital by scanning the QR code alongside the mosaic, ensuring it can continue to treat some of the UK’s sickest kids for a further 160 years and beyond.

The Birmingham and Midlands Free Hospital for Sick Children, as the hospital was originally known, first opened its doors on Steelhouse Lane in 1862. The project was led by physician Thomas Heslop, who wanted to create a dedicated institution for children during a time when disease in the industrial city was rife, with many children living in poverty and high infant mortality rates.

Over the years, as demand for its services grew, the hospital moved to a larger site on Ladywood Middleway, where it stayed for many decades, before relocating back to Steelhouse Lane and its current iconic home.  

The hospital has a long history of charitable support, starting with a fundraising campaign to purchase the hospital’s initial premises 160 years ago, as well as the £5m Get Us Home Appeal to move back to Steelhouse Lane in 1998. Charitable donations have also enabled the hospital to become the world-leading institution it is today, including £3m raised in 2008 to create the first stand-alone paediatric Burns Centre in Europe and the £3.65m Star Appeal in 2017, which funded the UK’s first Rare Diseases Centre for children.   

Mark Brider, chief executive officer of Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We’re thrilled to be celebrating such an incredible milestone and to be shining a spotlight on our wonderful hospital and charity in this way. We have a long and proud history of supporting local children and to see so many of them incorporated into this beautiful display really brings home how many lives we’ve changed for the better and how lucky we are to have such a world-renowned paediatric centre on our doorstep. I’d really encourage people to stop and ponder when visiting the installation.

“We must also say thank you to Network Rail for allowing us to use the main concourse at Birmingham New Street station, where thousands of people pass every day. No doubt many of those people will have a connection to our hospital themselves.”

Shakeel Mohammed, shift station manager at Birmingham New Street, said: “We’re so pleased to be able to host Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s very moving anniversary tribute, right in the heart of the city.

“It’s a chance to recognise the vital work the hospital has been doing for children for 160 years and we hope people passing through the station can make a small donation to make sure that work continues.”

The installation will be in place until Sunday 4 December. For further information on the hospital and charity’s 160-year history, please visit our history page or to donate, to ensure the hospital can continue to support sick children for years to come, visit our appeal.