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

Details of MAB
Reference: MAB

Administrative Papers and maps


This note summarises the main holdings of material published by the M.A.B. in the History Library. It is not comprehensive - for a full listing consult the Library author catalogue. All the publications, unless otherwise noted, have the Library classification 26.03 MAB. The minutes of the Board are on the oversize shelves in the Library, but the remaining material is held in store. Please ask at the Library enquiry desk for details of how to order this.




Minutes of the Metropolitan Asylums Board 1867 - 1930 [indexed]


Minutes of the Mental Hospitals Committee 1925 - 1930 [indexed 1925 - 1928]




Annual reports of the Chairman of the Board 1875, 1885 - 1897/8


Annual reports of the Metropolitan Asylums Board 1898 - 1929/30 [include reports of committees]


Annual reports of the medical superintendents ... for the year 1886 ... with observations thereon by the Statistical Committee


Annual reports of the Statistical Committee 1887 - 1897


Other Publications


Expenditure statements 1902 - 1913/4


Financial statements 1888 - 1906


Handbooks/Yearbooks 1884 - 1929/30 [incomplete set: see catalogue entry for full details]


The Metropolitan Asylums Board and its work 1867 - 1930, compiled by Sir Alan Powell [published 1930]


The Library also holds annual reports and histories for a number of the Board's hospitals and institutions. Please check the Library Catalogue for full details.


For a general history of the Board and its work see England's first state hospitals and the Metropolitan Asylums Board 1867 - 1930 by Gwendoline M. Ayers (Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine, 1971), which is on the Library shelves at 26.03 AYR. Placed upon the Board solely by Orders issued by the Local Government Board, e.g., the care of children suffering from ophthalmia and from contagious diseases of the skin and scalp or, because of some physical or mental defect, in need of special schooling (1896); and the control and management of London casual wards (1911). The most important statutes affecting the work of the Board were:-


The Diseases Prevention (London) Act, 1883 (46 & 47 Vic.c.35 which removed the civil disabilities which had previously been attached to admission to the Board's hospitals)


The Public Health (London) Act, 1891 (54 & 55 Vic.c.76, sanctioning the treatment of fever patients who were not paupers)


The Public Health (Prevention and Treatment of Disease) Act, 1913 (3 & 4 Geo.V c.23 sanctioning the treatment of tuberculous patients by the Board)


The Youthful Offenders Act, 1901 (1 Edw. VII c.20 under which the Board established remand homes)


The Mental Deficiency Act, 1913 (3 & 4 Geo.V c.28 as a result of which the Board undertook the care of uncertified mental cases)


The Local Authorities (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1928 (18 & 19 Geo.V.c. 9 under which the Board was given coordinating powers over the London Poor Law Unions in respect of the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund).


Under the Local Government Act, 1929 the powers and duties of the Board were transferred to the London County Council.

Date: 1867 - 1947

Summary of List


Short Account of the Board and its work.


Nos. 1-142 Board Minutes and Agendas.


Nos. 143-1448 Minutes, agendas and papers of Committees and Sub-Committees (Special and Joint, Ambulance, Asylums, Casual Wards, Children's, Contracts, Fever Patients, Finance, General Purposes, Hampstead Asylum, Hospitals, Hours and Wages of Staff, Law and Parliamentary, Metropolitan Common Poor Fund, Nursing Staff, Sanatorium (Tuberculosis), Smallpox Patients, Training Ship Exmouth, Works).


Nos. 1449-57 Registers of members.


Nos. 1458-93 Year books.


Nos. 1494-1547 Letters from the Poor Law Board, Local Government Board and Ministry of Health.


Nos. 1548-62 Orders of the Poor Law Board and Local Government Board.


Nos. 1563-72 Regulations and standing orders.


Nos. 1573-6 Seal books.


Nos. 1577-1684 Annual reports of the Board and its committees.


Nos. 1685-1721 Miscellaneous printed reports and papers.


Nos. 1722-35 Legal papers.


Nos. 1736-50 Lists of staff and papers relating to staff.


Nos. 1751-1836 Statistics.


Nos. 1837-47 Press cuttings.


Nos. 1848-72 Contracts.


Nos. 1873-2247 Financial records.


Nos. 2248-55 Plans.


Nos. 2256-2633 Papers, reports, etc., relating to institutions run by the Board - Belmont Asylum, Bridge School, Brook Hospital, Caterham Asylum, Cleveland Street Children's Infirmary, Colindale Hospital, Darenth Schools, Downs School, Eastern Hospital, Elm Grove Home for Defective Children, Fountain Hospital, Grove Farm Hospital, Goldie Leigh Homes, Grove Hospital, Grove Park Hospital, High Wood School, Joyce Green Hospital, King George V Sanatorium (Highdown) Leavesden Asylum, Lloyd House (Northern Defective Homes), North-Eastern Hospital, North-Western Hospital, Park Hospital, Pinewood Sanatorium, Princess Mary's Hospital, Queen Mary's Hospital, Carshalton, Rochester House, St. George's Home, St. Luke's Hospital, Lowestoft, Southern (Convalescent) Hospital, South-Eastern Hospital, South-Western Hospital, Tooting Bec Asylum, T. S. Exmouth, Western Hospital, White Oak School, Casual Wards, Remand Homes.


Nos. 2666-2668 Financial records (addl.)

Held by: London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Metropolitan Asylums Board, 1867-1929

London County Council, 1889-1965

Physical description: 2669 documents
  • Mental health
  • Health services
Administrative / biographical background:

On 15th May 1867 the Poor Law Board, as a first step towards the implementation of the Act of 30 and 31 Vic.c.VI "for the Establishment in the Metropolis of Asylums for the Sick, Insane, and other Classes of the Poor and of Dispensaries; and for the Distribution over the Metropolis of Portions of the Charge for Poor Relief; and for other Purposes relating to Poor Relief" ... issued an order combining the parishes and unions of the metropolitan area into one Metropolitan Asylum District for "the reception and relief of poor persons infected with or suffering from fever or the disease of smallpox or who may be insane.


The first Metropolitan Asylums Board consisted of 60 members, of whom 45 were representatives of the 30 parishes and unions of London and 15 were nominated by the Poor Law Board (afterwards by the Local Government Board and latterly by the Ministry of Health). The number was subsequently increased to 73.


The fever and smallpox epidemies had revealed the deficiencies of Poor Law provision in the Metropolitan area, where in most unions all types of patients were crowded together in the workhouse infirmaries, and the first task of the Board was to devise means of isolating patients suffering from infections diseases. The main difficulties confronting the Board were the spasmodic nature of the demands made upon it for hospital accommodation during the first 30 years of its existence (1), the objections of local residents to the establishment of fever and mental hospitals in their midst and the statutory limitation of patients to persons within the ambit of the Poor Law.


The establishment of institutions in temporary buildings, and the frequent changes of user to pressing needs as they arose added to changes of nomenclature make the records confusing reading, especially as, in the early years, separate committees were established for each institution. In 1899 a rationalisation of the committee system took place and most of the institutional management committees became sub-committees of the main committees - Asylums (later Mental Hospitals), Children's Hospitals (later Infectious Hospitals) and Tuberculosis (later Sanatoriums). In the list, for the sake of clarity, all the committees have been grouped in this way from the beginning but with cross-references from the names of the institutions.


Subject files and correspondence, except for letters from the Poor Law (later the Local Government) Board appear not to have been passed over to the Council and most of the papers 'presented' to the Board and its committees were destroyed during the 1939-45 war so that minutes form the bulk of the records. Except for the T.S. Exmouth, whose records are very full, the records of individual institutions are for the most part fragmentary. In some cases, e.g., the T.S. Exmouth where the institution continued in the same user for some years after it was taken over by the Council and the records are continuous, an ad hoc decision has been taken to keep the series together and they have been listed here, though strictly speaking from 1930 onward they are records of the L.C.C. and not of the M.A.B. A complete break has however been made in the committee records. Throughout its history the Board was kept under strict control by the central authority and approval had to be obtained from the Poor Law (later the Local Government) Board for all appointments of staff, purchases and allocation of property, etc. Some extra duties were


(1) The worst outbreaks of smallpox occurred in the years 1870-2, 1884-5, 1893-4 and 1901-2.

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