"Wife's age 29. Married 11 years. General condition debilitated.
12 pregnancies: 5 children alive, 5 miscarriages, 2 children died in early years.
Referred from Welfare Centre."
North Kensington Women's Welfare Centre, 1929 Annual Report.
"If you're getting married or are just married, why don't you and your finance, or you and your husband, both come to the North Kensington Marriage Welfare Centre at 12 Telford Road. Ladbroke Grove, W10 on the first Tuesday of any month?
After coffee and biscuits at 7pm, there will be an informal discussion led by a doctor about the many new aspects of the life you will be sharing together."
1950's advertising card.
The North Kensington Women’s Welfare Centre was a charitable organisation opened at 12 Telford Road in 1924. It was the third birth control clinic in England that was set up by three Margaret's: Margery Spring-Rice, who was the niece of Dr Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first Englishwoman to qualify as a physician and surgeon in Britain; Margaret Lloyd who was a cousin of Bertrand Russell and devoted to left wing and women's causes; and the Hon Mrs. Margaret Dighton Pollock, daughter of the first Lord Buckmaster who introduced a Birth Control Bill into the House of Lords in 1926. Margery Spring Rice and Margaret Lloyd, who both lived in Kensington, were inspired to set up the centre after hearing accounts of the domestic burdens of their respective char-women who came from the very poor district of Notting Dale.
The centre had the aim of giving contraceptive services to working class women in North Kensington as this was then only available from private doctors. Fees were charged according to the financial circumstances of husband and wife.
Staff at the centre played a major role in setting up the Family Planning Association in which it would operate as a specialist branch. By the 1950’s it was re-named as the North Kensington Marriage Welfare Centre and had become a super-clinic, offering services not available on the newly formed NHS including early treatments for infertility and sexual problems.
Dr Helena Wright and Dr Joan Malleson both worked at the Centre for over twenty years. They played a major role in the international development of family planning, the right to abortion and sex education.
During the period 1924-53, the Centre treated over 46,000 patients. In the year 1963 it had over 10,000 visits to the Centre. The centre was well regarded internationally and visited by Drs and Nurses from around the world who undertook training there.
On the research front, the centre also initiated or took part in research trials for cervical caps, pastes, the pill, IUD and cervical screening.
In the 1970’s, the council redeveloped the site to build a fire Station on Ladbroke Grove and the clinic temporarily relocated to a nearby portable cabin before moving back into the re-formed Raymede Clinic.
Over 1000 FPA clinics were eventually taken over by the NHS in 1973-74.
The FPA archive is held in the Wellcome Library.
My response to the archive is a work in progress. At times, it's been a pitch for a TV series and also as a multi-media art project with actors. I'm now showing the drawings I've made in response to the archive and these are in the style of a narrative film storyboard. These images illustrate scenes from the 1920's-1970's and reflect profound changes in society: the controversy and campaigning undertaken by early pioneers; how birth control was connected with the eugenics movement; the gradual acceptance of family planning as a right for all women, irregardless of marriage status; the impact of the pill in the 1960s; and post-war migration leading to the forming of new British communities, family structures and households.
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