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Former Annie McCall Hospital, Lambeth

Description: Former Annie McCall Hospital

Grade: II
Date Listed: 11 October 2011
English Heritage Building ID: 1402041

OS Grid Reference: TQ3011976286
OS Grid Coordinates: 530118, 176291
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4706, -0.1280

Locality: Lambeth
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: SW4 6QU

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Listing Text


Former maternity hospital, 1915, by Hart and Waterhouse. Extension of 1938 by Gertrude Leverkus. Minor later alterations.

Reason for Listing

The Annie McCall Hospital is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* historic interest: as only the third hospital to be founded and run by women in Britain, the Annie McCall Hospital played a vital part in the network of pioneering women doctors in the late C19, and the growing acceptance of women in the medical profession well into the C20
* architectural interest: the purpose-built wing, designed by Hart and Waterhouse and dating to 1915, has a smart red-brick façade with stone dressings and a handsome doorcase. There is also an extension of 1938 by Gertrude Leverkus, an early female architect
* state of preservation: there has been little alteration to the building since it opened and it retains its wood floors, terrazzo-paved corridors, original window joinery and one fireplace, which enhance our understanding of how the building functioned.


The Clapham Maternity Hospital was founded in 1889 by the pioneering doctor Annie McCall (1859–1949). Initially based at 74 Jeffreys Road, Stockwell, the Clapham Maternity Hospital moved to 41–3 Jeffreys Road in 1892, and from there expanded into two neighbouring houses and this purpose-built wing. A notice about the new wing appeared in The Builder on 6 March 1914, stating it cost £8,000 and was designed by architects Hart & Waterhouse, both pupils of Sir Ernest George. The wing opened in July 1915 and a sketch of the entrance was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1916. The hospital was renamed the Annie McCall Hospital in 1936, at which time McCall (then in her late seventies) was still nominally its director; she retired in 1938. In 1938-9 an extension was added to the north-western elevation, providing a waiting room for outpatients, doctors’ rooms, dispensary and extra wards; it was designed by one of the first female architects, Gertrude Leverkus. Nos 74 and 41-3 Jeffreys Road were destroyed in the Second World War, but Nos 37-39 survived and interconnect with the 1915 wing. The hospital closed in the 1970s and served as council offices, before becoming artists’ studios, a use that endures to this day.

The nucleus of the Clapham Maternity Hospital was a missionary venture founded by the prison reformer Susannah Meredith. The Hospital was originally financed by private subscriptions and legacies. Income included McCall's temperance lecture fees, donations from fellow-women doctors, and the sale of caps made by Annie’s mother. In addition small mortgages were taken out and grants received from the King Edward's Hospital Fund for London. Priority was given to admitting single women, unusual at this time, when being an unmarried mother was considered a disgrace and could result in the mother being cast out of the family home and the baby being born in the workhouse.

Annie McCall was a pioneer of antenatal care, holistic maternity services and natural childbirth, concerned (in her words) ‘the absolute needs of expectant mothers. It is my belief that it was also the first thing of its kind in the country. Here we dealt with such things as the occupation of the mother, food preparation, the question of rest, leisure and exercise’. ‘Masterful inactivity’ was her mantra for midwifery: internal examinations were avoided if possible and forceps were used in only 3 per cent of births. The resulting maternal mortality rates were low—1.6 per 1000—from 1889 to 1942 compared to national rates of between 3.5 and 6.5 per 1000. McCall also established the Clapham School of Midwifery, which opened in 1887 and set its own examinations, marked by external women doctors. Ante- and post-natal clinics were another of McCall's innovations. The skills of midwifery and obstetrics were being developed in Clapham at a time when their importance was not recognised elsewhere (midwifery was not formally established as a profession until 1902) and before midwives had to be registered. In its obituary, The Lancet recorded that McCall did ‘much for obstetrics especially during a period when this branch of practice was looked upon as beneath the notice of the physician and surgeon’.

The hospital played a significant part in furthering the acceptance of women doctors to the medical profession. This was the first maternity hospital to be founded, staffed and run by women; and was the third women's hospital in Britain, after those founded by Elizabeth Garrett Anderson in London in 1872 and by Sophia Jex-Blake in Edinburgh in 1885. While the Clapham Maternity Hospital was not as prominent a landmark as the New Hospital for Women, on London’s Euston Road, its place in the history of women doctors is significant and it played an important part of the network of medical women which emerged before the First World War. Pioneering women doctors like Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Annie McCall did not found their hospitals solely to give women patients effective treatment by members of their own sex; of equal importance was the opportunities women’s hospitals created for female junior doctors to gain clinical experience and to build a professional reputation. From its opening in 1889, students at the London School of Medicine for Women (founded in 1872 and the first women’s medical school in Britain) gained maternity outpatient experience at the Clapham Maternity Hospital. Annie McCall was the lecturer in midwifery at the London School of Medicine for Women and, in her will, left the majority of her estate to the School to set up an Annie McCall scholarship in midwifery. Women connected with the Clapham Maternity Hospital went on to establish ground-breaking institutions themselves. Dr Catherine Chisolm, for example, the first woman to graduate in medicine from Manchester University, was house surgeon at Clapham before founding the Manchester Babies Hospital in 1914, one of the first specialist hospitals for babies. Louisa Garrett Anderson, a supporter of the Clapham Maternity Hospital, founded a hospital for children on Harrow Road in 1911. The hospital also had connections with the older generation of pioneering doctors: Louisa’s more famous mother was the chair of the hospital’s original managing committee and Elizabeth Blackwell was an early and generous donor to its funds. The Annie McCall Hospital played a vital part in the network of pioneering women doctors in the late C19, and the growing acceptance of women in the profession well into the C20. This point is underscored by the words of Millicent Garret Fawcett, who wrote to Annie McCall upon the opening of the new building in 1915: ‘Your hospital, with its high standard of efficiency, has been one of the causes which have helped build up the public esteem in which women doctors are now held. When we compare the humble and quiet beginnings in the sixties of the last century with the place your movement holds now we feel what an immense success the whole thing has been’.

The delay between the founding of the hospital and the construction of a new wing is explained by the circumstances of its foundation. A ‘General Report’ published by the governors in 1909 explains that, in the early years: ‘it is obvious that, under the circumstances, when maternity hospitals and the work of medical women were, so to speak, both on trial, there could be no question of building special hospital premises’. The relative plainness of the hospital’s architecture is a manifestation of the nature of the institution, which prided itself on its prudent financial management in its annual reports (an appeal in 1892 for donations to buy 41-3 Jeffreys Road emphasised the hospital had never been in debt).

Gertrude Leverkus was one of the first three women to be accepted as an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects and one of the first two to become a fellow. Leverkus was Secretary of the Women's Committee of RIBA in the late 1930s and in the Second World War an organiser of evacuees from London. In 1943 she was appointed the Housing Architect in the Borough Architecture and Town Planning Office of West Ham and later was in private practice. She built relatively few buildings, making this extension all the more special a survival, notwithstanding its modesty. The involvement of a female architect in the expansion of the hospital in the 1930s underscores its special social history as a landmark place in the late C19 and early C20 women’s movement.


The building is constructed of red brick with stone dressings and concrete floors; to the rear the building is stock brick with render. The windows are timber sashes or horizontal hinged casements. The roof is flat and covered in asphalt. The building has three storeys, plus a basement. On the north-west front the windows are dressed with rubbed brick arches, stone keystones and stone aprons. The central bay has brick and stone banded pilasters, a pediment with stone dentil cornice, and a stuccoed projecting ground floor with a vase balustrade to its parapet. The central entrance portico has rusticated piers, Ionic half-columns, and a broken pediment framing a large cartouche. The timber front doors are original. The 1938-9 extension is part-single-storey, part-three-storey and in red brick with rubbed brick and stone dressings. The south-east elevation is more utilitarian than the façade: it is clad in render with rows of undecorated windows and a canted bay at each end.

The building is long and shallow on plan, with a spinal corridor on each floor. A row of five small wards run along its south-eastern side, and a single ward, WCs and utility rooms the north-western. Internal windows admit light from the wards to the corridor. The floors in the wards are woodblock or timber planks; the corridor floors are terrazzo, which sweeps up to form a skirting to the walls, a device to facilitate easy cleaning. The entrance lobby has a mosaic terrazzo floor. The cantilevering open-well concrete staircase has a metal balustrade and timber handrail. One fireplace survives in one of the ground floor rooms.

Nos 37 and 39 Jeffreys Road are typical mid-C19 London semi-detached townhouses and are not included in the listing.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.