St Margaret's Home / Maternity Hospital, Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire

On October 7th, 1912, the Leeds Diocesan Rescue and Protection Society opened the St Margaret's Catholic Girls' Home at 18 Mount Preston, Leeds. The new Home allowed the Society to separate its 'rescue' activities from the 'protection' work that was continuing at its other premises, the St Monica's Home, on Belle Vue Road, Leeds.

St Margaret's provided care for unmarried girls and young women who were pregnant for the first time, with the hope that religious influence might be brought to bear on those it dealt with. The Home, dedicated to St Margaret of Cortana, was initially placed under the charge of Miss Healy, who had previously been assistant matron for three years at the Duchess of Newcastle's Rescue Home, Fulham Road, London. Girls entered St Margaret's prior to the birth, had the delivery at the Leeds Maternity Hospital, then returned to the Home until such time as the mother could take care of herself and her child.

St Margaret's also took in 'fallen' cases, some of whom were passed on to Good Shepherd Homes, and there was a night shelter.

Miss Healy was succeeded as matron by Miss Field in 193, and by Miss Kelly in 1914.

In 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, the Home provided temporary accommodation for a small number of Belgian refugees.

In 1915, the matron began to make weekly visits to Catholic women and girls at Armley Prison, with some of these then making use of the St Margaret's night shelter following their release, or being assisted in other ways.

In September, 1917, St Margaret's moved to new premises at 18 Clarendon Road, Leeds. The house, which belonged to Leeds City Council, was taken on a long-term lease by the Society and allowed much better provision to be made for mothers and babies. There were now large and cheerful nurseries and workrooms, plenty of ground around the building for fresh air and exercise. was also nearer to the local Catholic church and to the maternity hospital on Hyde Terrace.

Former St Margaret's Home, Clarendon Road, Leeds, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, St Margaret's was evacuated to St John's Home, Boston Spa, where they occupied one wing of the building. Shortly afterwards, the Society bought a property at 31 Moor Road, Headingley, and on 19th November, 1940, fourteen mothers and twenty-eight babies, together with matron and staff, were transferred there from Boston Spa. For the first time, St Margaret's had its own permanent residence.

At this period, the Home was experiencing increasing difficulties with local maternity hospitals being sometimes unable to accommodate its expectant mothers. The problem was resolved when a long-standing benefactor of the Society, Mrs Warrington, purchased the adjoining property at 29 Moor Road. This was linked to St Margaret's by a corridor and officially opened on May 6th, 1946, by Bishop Poskitt as a maternity annexe.

St Margaret's Home, Moor Road, Leeds, c.1946.

In more recent times, the Moor Lane site has been used for a variety of purposes including the accommodation of asylum seekers, and offices for a post-adoption support service and for the Leeds Youth Offending Team.

The property has now been converted into apartments for older people.

In 1982, the Society changed its name to the Catholic Child Welfare Society (Dioceses of Leeds and Hallam). In 1985, it became the Catholic Social Welfare Society (Dioceses of Leeds and Hallam), and in 1988 was renamed the Catholic Social Welfare Society (Diocese of Leeds), finally adopting the name Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) in 1993. In 2012, the organisation — now known as Catholic Care — lost its appeal to refuse adoption services to same-sex couples. The charity was then forced to break its formal ties with the Catholic Church.

Records

Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.

Bibliography

  • Finnigan, Robert et al, 150th Anniversary History 1863-2013 Catholic Care, Diocese of Leeds (2013, Catholic Care)