Plaistow Maternity Hospital
Howards Road, Plaistow E13 8AX
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1923 - 1976

In 1886 the Vicar of St Mary's, Thomas Given Wilson, established a welfare clinic and a day nursery in London Road, Plaistow.  In 1889 one of its nurses, Miss Katharine Twining, moved from London Road and established the St Mary's Nursing Home in Howard's Road.  The Home provided midwifery and nursing support to poor residents of the district in their own homes, as well as training women of every social class in nursing, and prepared them for the London Obstetrical Society's examination.

In 1894 two houses - 17 and 19 Howards Road - were purchased by the Maternity, Charity and District Nurses' Home.  These houses became the District Nurses' Home.  A Midwifery Training School and District Nursing Training School were established.  A year later a Committee of Management had been formed and nearby land was bought with a view to extending the premises; this happened in 1898.

In 1901 branches of the Home were established in other poor areas - East Ham, Stratford, Victoria Docks and North Woolwich - and, three years later, at Barking, Essex.

In 1904 two more houses - 24 and 26 Howards Road - were bought, and these were used for in-patients; the Home had 12 beds.  By 1911 the bed number had increased to 20, when 28 Howards Road was bought.  In 1915 Chesterton House was purchased and used as a centre for antenatal and postnatal care.

A new building in Chesterton Road was opened by Queen Mary in 1923.  This became the in-patient building, with 36 maternal beds and 4 general ones.  In 1926 the name of the Home was changed to Plaistow Maternity Hospital.  In 1929 the Hospital was further enlarged, by which time it had 60 beds.  The Nurses' Home was extended and a lecture theatre added in 1936, making the Hospital an outstanding centre for the training of midwives.

During WW2 the Hospital building was damaged by bombing.  In-patients were evacuated to Suntrap, a house at High Beech, near Loughton, Essex.  In 1940 the East Ham District Nursing Association took over the work of the Hospital's District Nurses.

In 1948 the Hospital joined the NHS with 60 beds.  It was under the control of the West Ham Group Hospital Management Committee, part of the North East Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board.

In 1974, following a major reorganisation of the NHS, the Hospital came under the administration of the Newham District Health Authority, part of the North East Thames Regional Health Authority.

In 1976 the local Health Authority decided to close the Hospital.  Services were transferred to Newham Maternity Hospital, pending the building of the new Newham General Hospital.

Present status (February 2008)

The Hospital buildings have been demolished and new housing occupies the site.  
Howards Road
New housing at the end of Chesterton Road

Howards Road 
Howards Road
The corner of Howards Road and Chesterton Road

The West Ham Ambulance Depot now occupies the site of Chesterton House, once the home of the Quaker meteorologist Luke Howard

Readers' comments

Plaistow Maternity Hospital Nurses' Home
The Nurses' Home in Howards Road in the early 20th century.

(Photograph reproduced by kind permission of
robmcrorie - flickr)

Plaistow Maternity Hospital
The Plaistow Maternity Hospital complex on Howards and Chesterton Roads reproduced from part of the aerial view shown on Britain from Above.

(Courtesy of Mr Roger Harvey)


From Baerbel Christel Vera Vahlpahl, SRN, SCM

"I was born in 1943 in Koenigs Wusterhausen, near Berlin, Germany.  Due to my professional and life circumstances, I had the advantage of being trained in midwifery in London during 1970-71.  

I underwent Part 1 of the training at Hackney Hospital from 1st May 1970 until 31st October 1970.

The Part II midwifery training took place at Forest Gate Hospital from 1st December 1970 until 31st May 1971.  In compliance with the rules of the Midwives Act, 1951, as part of this training,  I also  undertook 3 months of domestic deliveries as a resident student at Plaistow Maternity Hospital during the same period.

In September/October 2023 I visited London with the aim to have a look at what the Hospitals were like today, even if possible to find some things of remembrance from my old days while having been there as a student."

My visit to Plaistow Maternity Hospital was on
Tuesday, 3rd October 2023.

Plaistow Maternity Hospital

Howards Road, facing Balaam Street.

Plaistow Maternity Hospital

The small green plaque on the wall commemorates the Hospital (above and below).

Plaistow Maternity Hospital

There were four hospitals in Plaistow.  Like this one, St Mary's Hospital, the Invalid and Crippled Children's Hospital and Plaistow Hospital have also closed.
References (Accessed 7th June 2019)

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