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We need your memories of the Lea Road Infant Welfare Centre in Wolverhampton

Lea Road Infant Welfare Centre

19 July 2018

Seventy years ago this July, the NHS was born! This will be a key story within our new 1940s-60s town, told via the ambitious recreation of Wolverhampton’s Lea Road Infant Welfare Centre.

We’re now looking for memories and objects surrounding this building to help bring its story to life. Wolverhampton Borough Council sanctioned several of these centres in the 1920s, including the one on Lea Road which opened on 25 June 1928.

It was designed to provide somewhere for expectant and new mothers to meet, learn about their baby’s health – and their own maternal health – and have their children fed, weighed and vaccinated.

Visitors to Lea Road in the 1950s and 1960s would have found a busy environment, overseen by staff and volunteers. The main hall was a waiting room, but doubled up as a venue for ante-natal and “mothercraft” classes, baby clothes sales, and as a social gathering for new mothers – always with a fresh cup of tea in hand. Worried new mums could receive advice on anything from birthing anaesthetics to family planning – though this was strictly for married women only.

Babies were weighed and checked regularly, and vaccinated against a range of diseases. Outbreaks of measles, smallpox and polio still occurred from time to time, and diphtheria was a particular Black Country problem: at points during the 1950s, for example, Coseley was responsible for a third of all cases nationally! Most memorably, the centres also distributed welfare foods: vitamins, bottles of thick, sticky orange juice, tins of National Dried Milk, and the hated cod liver oil.

Lea Road eventually closed in the 1970s as services were transferred to more modern buildings. Black Country Living Museum is seeking memories of this Infant Welfare Centre in the 1940s to 1960s, to inform our recreation of it in BCLM: Forging Ahead. Upon completion in 2022, visitors will be able to step back in time and learn about the birth of the NHS and the lives of young children and mothers in the post-war period.

Did you work or visit there? Did you visit Lea Road as a young mother? Can you still recall the taste of cod liver oil in the clinic? Do you remember the staff, or other visitors?

If you have any information or objects you’d like to share to help in our recreation, please get in touch with our collections team!

For more information please visit bclm.com/ForgingAhead

How to contact us

If you or anyone you know remembers the Infant Welfare Centre, please get in touch via:

Tel: 0121 557 9643

Email: collections@bclm.com

Post address: Collections Team, Black Country Living Museum, Tipton Road, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 4SQ

 

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