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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): LMA/4314
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1918-2002
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 4.98 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Manor Gardens Centre


Administrative/Biographical history:

The North Islington Infant Welfare Centre and School for Mothers was founded in 1913 by Mrs A.M. Keen. In some ways a pioneer in infant welfare work, she succeeded in opening one room at the Mission Hall, Elthorne Road and obtained the services of Doctor Vance Knox and Doctor Campbell Maxwell. With herself as honorary secretary and treasurer, and with the help of one nurse the school began with only 9 mothers but by 1920 the number of attendances had risen to over 12,000.

In Islington at the time the infant mortality rate was 110 per 1000 births. The stated aim of the centre was to prevent disease and death among women and children by educating the mother. The first mothers were able to buy clothing and medicines, have their babies weighed and examined by the medical officer. Apparently in the early days Mrs Keen herself would stand outside and stop passing mothers with babies in order to persuade them to attend the clinics.

It soon became clear that larger and more suitable permanent premises were needed, and in 1915 number 9 Manor Gardens was rented, two years later, such was the demand for the centre's services, that another house, number 8, was taken over.

By degrees Mrs Keen developed the centre in a variety of ways, and soon there were dental clinics, massage, an 'artificial sunlight treatment' clinic, training for infant welfare students and LCC scholarship pupils, the provision of home helps, a flourishing fathers and mothers committee, sewing classes for mothers, and in 1917, with the support of the American Women's Club and the American Red Cross, four wards were set up in numbers 6 and 7 Manor Gardens, so that children who were not thriving could be taken in and could have special attention.

In 1919 Lady Crosfield, wife of Sir Arthur Crossfield, at one time Member of Parliament for Warrington and later chairman of the National Playing Fields Association, took over as chairman. And in 1922 the Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) agreed to be its patron.

During the Second World War, the wards were closed down and part of the centre was taken over by Islington Borough Council as a Stretcher Party Depot and First Aid Post. After the war, and under the National Health Service, local health services in Islington (including those for maternity and child welfare) were transferred from the Borough to the London County Council. Lady Crossfield managed to persuade the Minister of Health, Aneurin Bevan that the centre should retain its individuality, and the committee should retain responsibility for its daily work. The centre had remained for its first 50 years primarily what it had set out to be - a service for promoting the health of mothers and babies, but the inception of the NHS led the centre to take a wider view of the health needs of the community. Thus in 1950 the centre opened a playgroup. The 1960's saw the start of Family Planning and Marriage Guidance Counselling services and the introduction of Geriatric Health visitors.

By the 1970's however, the local population had fallen and the numbers of mothers and babies attending began to decline. The wards, which had done such vital, life-saving work were no longer needed and were closed down in 1973.

In the 1980's the need for revitalisation and further expansion became evident and the building was steadily refurbished. By the time of the centre's 70th anniversary in 1983, it had been renamed the 'Manor Gardens Centre' and was open seven days a week. In addition to the child health centre, maternity and playschool facilities, new services for young people and the elderly, the fit and the disabled, those living in the community and those from further afield had been set up. Some 4,000 people were now using the centre each week.

In 1985, however, the Islington District Health Authority set in motion plans for a purpose built health centre to be based at the Royal Northern Hospital, with the intention that the community health services at the Manor Gardens Centre would be transferred there in the early 1990's. The space made available at the centre would be used to house a community mental health centre staffed by a range of health and social service workers.

By the late 1990's, alongside its playgroup, the centre was running a variety of health and welfare services, with the aim as always to improve the quality of life of local people. Services included - a Homecare Scheme offering support to vulnerable people living on their own; a Stroke Project to help those who had had strokes get involved with a variety of rehabilitative, creative and social activities (including a weekly exercise session at Pentonville Prison); arts projects for young disabled people; a Befriending Scheme to provide practical support for local older and/or disabled people in their own homes; a Bengali and Turkish/Kurdish womens group; a lunch club; an Accident Prevention Loan scheme; and an advocacy project for asylum seekers; as well as acting as a meeting place for tenant groups and other local organisations.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Manor Gardens Centre, 1918-2002, including minutes of the Executive Committee and minutes of the Finance, Staff, House, Mothers, Wards and Trustee Committees; administrative files including annual general meeting working papers, educational visits, requisitioning, health visitors, wards, wages, new building, fund raising, war savings, insurance, clinics, trustees, reports, letters to newspapers, certificates and staff; papers relating to the Holiday Scheme; annual reports; press cuttings; publications including booklets about the work of the Centre and a history of the North Islington Infant Welfare Centre and School for Mothers 1913-1973; financial statements; photographs and printing blocks of mothers and children, staff, special events and Centre buildings; architectural plans.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

These records are arranged according to a classification scheme for hospital records.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: Depositor

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Received in multiple accessions between 2001 and 2006. B01/063, B03/045, B06/106.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
January 2009

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