- 1916 - 1937 (Creation)
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The Croydon Mothers and Infants Welfare Association had five main goals: to give ante-natal advice; to provide care during and after pregnancy; to help mothers during the first weeks of their childs life; to provide care during childs first year of life[including medical, close observation and treatment]; and to continue medical supervision of child to school age.
It was previously known as the Mothers Dinner Committee. The Association established a number of localised Welfare Centres to help mothers with children throughout the borough. In 1918 they acquired 49 St James Road West Croydon where they opened St Marys Maternity Hospital maintaining 17 beds. These beds were on a means-tested basis.
Built about 1869 no.49 St James Road West Croydon was originally named Argyll House. Later it became no. 135 and by 1890 had been renumbered to no.49. It remained a private residence until 1900 when the St Agnes Home for Crippled Girls moved there from 97, Sydenham Road. By 1901 they had moved to 7, Wellesley Road. After being unoccupied for a while, the house once again, became a private residence until 1918 with the opening of St Marys Maternity Hospital.
An extension was opened on 27 September 1930 with the original building becoming the administration block. The number of beds was then increased to 32.
The Association also provided convalescent care to any mothers, children and expectant mothers needing it. It further helped unmarried mothers with grants for the support of babies up to school age, and gave some financial help in the home during confinement [late stages of pregnancy]. It aimed to help provide support for children born into diminished circumstances, reduce infant mortality and educate mothers in child-rearing. The local Welfare Centres each had a medical officer, a nurse or a health visitor to advise and assess users health needs.
Baby Welcomes were established in January 1916. These were local committees responsible for ensuring there was a nurse at each Welfare Centre to weigh babies and teach mothercraft. Mothers were charged a penny a time. These sessions were followed up by a personal visit, where necessary. The Association aimed to promote the good health of mothers and children via conferences and other public events. An AGM was held every year, during which the principal officers were elected. The first AGM was 10 May 1916.
On 01 April 1937 the Association handed over the administration of St. Marys Maternity Hospital on St Jamess Road to Croydon Corporation [County Borough of Croydon Minutes vol. LV part 1, November 1936 - October 1937; Public Health Committee 13 April 1937 p.885] The Corporation having already taken over the assessment and collection of payments by mothers.
Under the National Health Service Act of 1946, most of the work carried out by the Association [with the exception of Family Planning Clinics] would be carried out by the Corporation. Therefore the Association was wound up and handed its assets to the Corporation. In 1948 St. Marys Maternity Hospital was transferred to the newly created National Health Service. The hospital closed in October 1985. It is currently the Westways Adult Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit.
There are a number of Annual Reports for the Croydon Mothers and Infants Welfare Association held in the Local Studies Library at S70(362)CRO covering the period 1929-1946. A quote taken from the report of 1937 [June 1937 p.6 ] conveys how successful the association was as a fore-runner to modern day mother and baby clinics;
It has always been the aim of Organisers to make mothers very welcome at the Centres and so successful have they been that many mothers attend every week for the sake of having a friendly chat with the helpers and one another, whether their children really need skilled supervision or not
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Accession Number: A402
Croydon Mothers and Infants Welfare Association records
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Item date: 1916 - 1938
Accession date: 27/11/1999
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