Records of the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies

Scope and Content

This collection comprises registers of pupils, lecture attendance registers, obstetric nurses examination papers and visitors book of the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies (3 April 1922-30 June 1984).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Home for Mothers and Babies opened in two converted houses in Wood Street, Woolwich on 11 May 1905. The original hospital had beds for twelve in-patients. Midwives also attended outpatients in their own homes.

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.

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 Saint 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.

Access Information

Access restrictions may apply if material includes personal information of living individuals. All other records are open to research by appointment, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. For further information about accessing the collection and visiting the reading room, please contact:

Acquisition Information

There is no record of the date or source of acquisition before the collection was deposited at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in May 2011.


Catalogued by Clare Sexton, Project Archivist in accordance with ISAD(G).

Other Finding Aids

Further details of the contents of this material are available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

If you wish to reproduce this material, apply via the College Archivist:

Custodial History

This collection was originally deposited at the Royal College of Midwives. It is now held under the terms of a service level collection care agreement at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Related Material

Additional records of the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies are held by the London Metropolitan Archive (Reference no. H14/BMB).