Vic’s 1975 maternity opening was bye bye baby for Glenroyd

Inside the new maternity unit from the official launch brochure

Chances are that if you’re from Blackpool, Fylde or Wyre, in your late forties and born in hospital it was probably at Glenroyd on Whitegate Drive, Blackpool.

Glenroyd became a maternity hospital in 1939, receiving expectant mothers from towns more at risk of Nazi bombing.

More than 40,000 babies were born there in the 35 years before the Labour MP for Blackburn and Secretary of State for Health Barbara Castle officially opened a purpose-built maternity unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on 14 March 1975. 

The Bay City Rollers were topping the charts and it marked the end of a long wait for a maternity hospital that had been promised ever since The Beatles began their meteoric rise in the early Sixties.

The final five-storey unit, which cost £816,000 to build and £112,000 to furnish, could accommodate 120 patients and had a special care baby unit. 

Mr and Mrs Eric Dugdale were the first parents to benefit when their daughter was born there at 4.34pm on 1 October 1974, although the brochure for the official opening doesn’t record her name. 

Unlike today when mums usually stay with their babies, providing no special care is needed, the brochure makes a virtue of its nursery: “For the first two or three nights after delivery, babies will be tucked up on their own in the ward nursery so that mothers can get some sleep.” 

Sister Atkinson checks on a mum-to-be

Forward-thinking Seventies fathers were not forgotten either: “In the waiting room, there is even a convertible couch where they can spend the night if they wish.” 

Midwife Eileen Shaw who still practices part-time at the Vic remembers the new unit opening. 

She said: “My retired friends have just had a look at the brochure and been thinking about how things have changed, especially the number of beds. We loved the photos, especially the one of Sister Atkinson on the back page, a wonderful lady. 

“Two of my friends had also worked at Glenroyd and I did some shifts there when it became a nursing home managed by the wife of one of our consultants. On my first night working there, a gentleman had a dream that he was in a room full of babies. How strange was that, it having been a maternity unit?” 

Posted in Home Page, NHS75.