Manchester Southern Hospital was founded in 1866 as a voluntary dispensary for diseases of women and children and for maternity cases. John Thorburn was one of the founders and the dispensary was funded by the subscription and recommendation system. The system of recommendations was abandoned in the 1870s as it was subject to abuse, and the hospital relied on the judgement of medical officers to reject those undeserving of the charity. In 1871 Manchester Southern became a hospital when it acquired a few beds for serious cases. It was located in Grosvenor Street, Chorlton in Medlock. The Southern was a very small charity until the 1880s when it developed as a maternity hospital under William Japp Sinclair, who later became professor of obstetrics at Owens College and was one of the pioneers of the Caesarean section. In 1888, the Manchester Southern Hospital opened premises in Upper Brook Street as a maternity hospital.
In 1893, the Hospital took a site on the College Estate to provide facilities for clinical teaching of gynaecology and obstetrics. Unlike St Mary's, the Southern had a close relationship with Owens College. A long and controversial debate then followed over whether it should amalgamate with St Mary's Hospital. Despite a history of rivalry, Sinclair considering St Mary's backward in its lack of in-patient beds, the two eventually joined in 1905 when they became part of the St Mary's Hospitals. The new building of the Manchester Southern Hospital on the Stanley Grove estate was completed in 1910 and became the Children's and Gynaecology department of the hospital, the maternity department was at Whitworth Street. St Mary's Hospital moved to Hathersage Road in 1911. See St Mary's for later history.