|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON
Manor Gardens Centre
6-9 Manor Gardens, Islington, N7 6LA
|1913 - 2001
Welfare of mothers and babies
The North Islington Infant Welfare Centre and School for Mothers was founded in 1913 by Mrs Florence Keen (1868-1942) and other local women at a time when the infant mortality rate in the Borough was 110 per 1000 births. It was intended to be a 'school for mothers', offering help and advice on the correct methods of childcare to less privileged mothers.
The Centre first opened in one room at the Presbyterian mission hall in Elthorne Road, with a voluntary doctor and a nurse weighing and examining 12-15 babies one afternoon a week. Mrs Keen acted as Honorary Secretary and Treasurer.
In 1915 the Centre moved to larger and more suitable premises at 9, Manor Gardens. The following year the adjoining house, No. 8, was also leased. The Centre offered dental and eye clinics, massage, 'artificial sunlight' treatment for rickets, training for infant welfare students and the provision of home helps.
In 1917 a Committee of American women living in London enabled a small ward with cots for 5 infants to be established. It was opened officially by Mrs Page, the wife of the American amabssador.
The nursing staff of the Centre consisted of a Superintendent and seven nurses. Nine infant clinics were held weekly and the medical staff were all women.
Sewing classes began for mothers, who would bring their own material and be taught by skilled teachers how to make garments for their babies.
Later, in 1918, Nos. 6-7 Manor Gardens were also taken over, again with the help of the American Women's Club and the American Red Cross, and four wards with 18 beds were provided for children who were not thriving. One ward was reserved for 3 mothers and their babies, to establish natural feeding.
In 1922 the then Duchess of York (who later became Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) became the Centre's Patron.
During WW2 the wards were closed and part of the Centre taken over by the Islington Borough Council for a Stretcher Party Depot and First Aid Post.
In 1944 it had been suggested that the Centre amalgamate with the nearby Royal Northern Hospital but this did not happen. However, it worked in partnership with the Hospital to provide a service promoting the health of mothers and babies.
Under the newly established NHS in 1948, responsibility for local health services in London transferred from their Boroughs to the LCC, but the Centre was allowed to retain its independent committee.
In 1950 a playgroup opened.
During the 1960s a Family Planning Clinic and a Marriage Guidance Counselling service were added, as well as a Geriatric Health Visitor service.
By the early 1970s the numbers attending had declined, reflecting the falling numbers of the local population. With improvement in living standards and better nutrition the wards were no longer necessary and they closed in 1973. The Centre continued to carry out social work for Islington Council and, in 1976, a Women's Therapy Centre was established at No. 10 Manor Gardens.
In 1979 the Centre was renamed the Manor Gardens Centre. In addition to its maternity and children welfare clinics, new services were established for the young, the elderly, both able-bodied and disabled, living in the community and beyond.
During the 1980s the buildings were refurbished and expanded.
In 1985 the Islington District Health Authority planned to move the Centre's community health services to a purpose-built building at the Royal Northern Hospital. The space made available at the Centre would then be used to house a mental health community service. However, the Royal Northern Hospital closed in 1992 and, by the late 1990s, the Centre still offered a variety of health and welfare services with the aim of improving the quality of life of local people.
The NHS left the Centre in 2001.
Present status (August 2008)
Today the Manor Gardens Centre offers a range of health and welfare services for the most disadvantaged members of the community. They are funded by various charities.
The original building for the Centre at Nos. 8-9 Manor Gardens.
The main entrance to the Centre.
Nos. 6-7 Manor Gardens under bandages in 2008.
The front steps and entrance to the building.
NB Photographs obtained in July 2013
Nos. 8-9 Manor Gardens, with Nos. 6-7 to the left of the image by the parked cars.
Nos. 8 and 9 Manor Gardens.
Nos. 6 and 7 Manor Gardens.
The main entrance to the Centre between both sets of semi-detached houses.
The entrance to the Women's Therapy Centre at No. 10 Manor Gardens, in the Beaux Arts Building, opposite the Centre.
30th April 2015)
(Author unstated) 1917 North Islington Maternity Centre and School for Mothers. British Journal of Nursing Supplement. The Midwife, 17th March, 199.
(Author unstated) 1918 North Islington Maternity Centre and School for Mothers. British Journal of Nursing Supplement, 6th July, 20.
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