Ivy House
(Salvation Army Maternity Hospital)
271 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 1EE
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1890 - 1913

In 1886 the Salvation Army had opened Brent House in Hackney, its first home in the area for unmarried mothers and their babies, but the demand for maternity places had increased so much that the capacity of the rescue home was soon inadequate.  The following year, therefore, the Salvation Army decided to rent the nearby Ivy House in Mare Street for use as a rescue and maternity home.

Ivy House seems to have been in use in the latter part of 1889, but officially opened on 2nd June 1890, with 21 beds.  The House, located on the corner of Mare Street and Richmond Road, was a large 4-storey building with a 3-storey annexe, probably built in at the beginning of the 19th century.  Prior to it being rented by the Salvation Army, it had been converted into a lodging house.  The building was lit by gas.

The basement of the home contained the kitchen and its storerooms and offices, a dining room and a bathroom for the domestic staff.  On the ground floor were two offices for administration, an office for the district nurses, a convalescent ward and a dining room for the nurses and pupil midwives (which was also used as a lecture room).   On the first floor were four lying-in wards, the day nursery and Matron's bedsitting room.  On the half-landing below this floor was the toilet, which was also used as a slop-sink.  The labour room, night nursery, antenatal room (which also served as a receiving room) and another lying-in ward were on the second floor.  Hot and cold water sinks, used only for soapy water, were located in the first floor corridor and on the second floor landing.  The home also provided a Training School for Midwives, some of whom continued working for the Salvation Army in the maternity home or as district midwives once they had qualified.

In 1894 the rescue work moved to a new location and Ivy House temporarily closed, although the district midwife service carried on as before.  The Matron and the four district nurses moved into a small end-of-terrace house next-door, at No. 225 Richmond Road, thereby freeing up space for more beds.  

The home soon re-opened, as the Salvation Army's first dedicated maternity hospital for unmarried mothers.  Most of the patients were aged between 15 and 20 years; most had previously led respectable lives, but had been betrayed and abandoned by their lovers when they fell pregnant.

In 1906 the hospital had six wards with a total of 22 beds and 12 cots.  However, it lacked bathrooms for the patients and moveable baths were provided in the antenatal room and in the lying-in wards.  An isolation ward, completely detached from the main buildings, had been erected against the external wall of No. 225, which now accommodated the Assistant Matron, the Nursery Matron and those waiting cases who provided domestic help in the hospital.  Trainee midwives lived at No. 296 Mare Street under the care of a Home Matron, but had their meals at the hospital.

A District Midwife service was provided by the hospital and, as with all their rescue work, the district nurses combined attending childbirth with evangelising the patients.

In 1909 some 386 babies were born in the hospital, of which 30 had died, mainly due to premature birth.

By 1912 the hospital also included 2 private wards for married women.

Ivy House closed in 1913, when the newly built Mothers' Hospital opened.

During its operational lifetime, some 4,500 babies were delivered at Ivy House.

Present status (August 2009)

The building was demolished shortly after the maternity hospital closed.

Its site is currently occupied by Jobcentre Plus, a government agency supporting the jobless.

Jobcentre Plus
Jobcentre Plus, 271 Mare Street, Hackney.
(Author unstated) 1912 The Salvation Army Maternity Hospital.  The Midwife. British Journal of Nursing Supplement, 14th December, 485.

Rider Haggard H 1910 Regeneration: An Account of the Social Work of the Salvation Army. London,  Longman Green & Co.

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