This record is held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London

Details of H14/BMB
Reference: H14/BMB

Records of the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies formerly the Home for Mothers and Babies, Woolwich

GENERAL HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATION: Home for Mothers and Babies Executive Committee minute books; British Hospital for Mothers and Babies; Managing Committee and Advisory Committee minute books; Annual reports; Diaries; Letter book; Papers. PATIENTS ADMINISTRATION: Admission registers; Case books; Maternity register; Medical report books; Out-patients' case book. MIDWIFERY SCHOOL: Record of district midwifery practices. FINANCIAL RECORDS: Secretary's petty cash book; Cash dissected books; Cash books; Petty cash books; Register of subscriptions and donations. MISCELLANEOUS: Visitors' books; Publicity material; Miss Gregory's private papers.
Held by: London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Home for Mothers and Babies, 1905-1915

British Hospital for Mothers and Babies, Woolwich

Immediate source of acquisition:

Transferred to the Greater London Record Office, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R OHB 8 August 1984 (Acc 2004)

  • Woolwich, Kent
  • Maternal and child health
Administrative / biographical background:

The Home for Mothers and Babies opened in two converted houses in Wood Street, Woolwich on 11 May 1905. Its objects were, "(1) to enable women to be attended in their confinements, either in the Hospital or at their own homes, by Gentlewomen, all of whom have received previous training in General Nursing", "(2) to promote the training of Gentlewomen as District Midwives", "(3) to lengthen the customary period of training for District Midwives". The inspiration for its foundation came from three well-educated and devoutly religious women, Miss Alice Gregory, Mrs Lelia Parnell, and Miss Maud Cashmore. Miss Gregory became honorary secretary to the hospital, Mrs Parnell was the first Matron, and Miss Cashmore became Senior Sister. On Mrs Parnell's death in 1931, Miss Cashmore succeeded her as Matron.


The original hospital had beds for twelve in-patients. Midwives also attended out-patients in their own homes. Patients were charged fees according to their means. In 1915 an antenatal clinic was started. Midwifery pupils with at least a year's experience of general nursing were admitted for a minimum of six months training. When pupils had completed their training, they were expected to work as district midwives. A building fund was started to raise money to build a new and larger hospital.


In 1912 a proposal was received from the British Lying-In Hospital, Holborn, for the amalgamation of the two institutions. This was formally approved by the Charity Commission on 29 January 1915. The British Lying-In Hospital closed in May 1913. The Home for Mothers and Babies was renamed the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies and was placed under the control of a newly constituted Managing Committee with representatives of both institutions.


In practice it continued much as before with the same objects, the same methods, and the same staff, but enriched by the endowments of the British Lying-In Hospital.


A site in Samuel Street, Woolwich was purchased in 1914. The first stone of the new building was laid in 1920 and the first stage of the new hospital was opened in March 1922. The second stage of the building was completed in 1929. An important part of the work of the hospital was the holding of both antenatal and postnatal clinics.


The hospital was badly damaged by bombing in 1940. An evacuation hospital was set up in Pednor House, Chesham, Buckinghamshire, which was loaned by the Ministry of Health. The Ministry then insisted that the administration of the hospital should be handed over to Buckinghamshire County Council. Rather than submit to this condition, the evacuation hospital was moved in March 1941 to a privately owned house, Moatlands, situated at Brenchley in Kent. Moatlands was purchased in 1944.


Miss Gregory and Miss Cashmore retired in October 1945 after forty years at the hospital. In 1948 the hospital was taken over by the National Health Service and became the responsibility of Woolwich Group Hospital Management Committee. Moatlands was vacated in 1953 when the beds were transferred to St Nicholas Hospital, Plumstead. The hospital was transferred to Greenwich and Bexley Area Health Authority in 1974 and to Greenwich Health Authority in 1982. It closed in 1984.

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