Firs Maternity Home, Leigh

Firs Maternity Home, Leigh, Lancashire

I was born in Leigh at First Maternity Home in 1968 (13th October – Sunday).

Firs Farm existed in 1828 and was then bought in 1843 by John and William Hall. The Halls built Firs No. 1 Mill and as a result, many houses were built in the immediate area to accommodate the growing number of manual workers needed to work there.



About 1871, Ralph Tunnicliffe bought the Firs estate and by 1875 had built The Firs as his home. He built Firs No. 2 Mill and formed a joint stock company, Tunnicliffe and Hampson. Ralph died in 1880 and the estate was offered for sale, but it didn’t sell, despite the net income being over £3000.

The estate consisted of The Firs, 2 mills, 4 managers’ houses, 42 cottages and Firs Farm. The business was continued by Walter Tunnicliffe until he dies in 1900.

John Holden (later Sir John Holden) took over the business and built Firs No. 3 Mill in 1902. He also built Bedford Lane Mill and Mill Lane Mill before 1914. He was Mayor of Leigh from 1911 to 1913.

Sir John Holden gave Firs Park to the town and it was landscaped at the expense of Tunnicliffe and Hampson.

The home was first opened in 1928, under the auspices of the Leigh Corporation in a house in the centre of the town, provision being made for about 10 patients. Within two years the accommodation was found to be inadequate and larger premises were acquired in a mansion formerly occupied by a cotton magnate.



This house was known as ” The Firs “. The Holdens left the Firs and in 1931 the Council acquired it and made it into a Maternity Home.

The accommodation consisted of 21 beds in 5 wards, although this could be increased should the need arise. With the advent of the National Health Service, the home was placed under the Wigan and Leigh Hospital Management Committee of the Manchester Regional Hospital Board.

In 1949 a consultant obstetrician was appointed who visited the home regularly and was on call for emergencies.

A second appointment was made in in 1957. In 1960 the population of Leigh was approximately 47,500 and patients were taken from the surrounding area. It stopped delivering babies in 1979 but stayed open for recovering mothers until 1985. It was later demolished and there are now houses on the site.

More about First Maternity Home, Leigh

6 thoughts on “Firs Maternity Home, Leigh

  1. Lovely piece to read, I was also born at Firs in 1967. My maternal grandmother was the first to have a caesarean section there, indeed there was a plaque put up with her name (Sarah Ratcliffe) and that of my uncle, David. Thank you for this piece.


  2. Our son Stephen was born at the Maternity home in 1970, It was nice to read its history. Our son was fifty in 2020 and we were going to watch Leigh Rugby as a family(he loves his Rugby} Unfortunately because of Covid we could not go. We are will be going to see a match, in the future to celebrate his Birthday (if a bit late)


  3. I was born at The Firs in 1960 and would be interested in any old photographs as I am currently researching my family tree and would like to include some in a book I am producing.


  4. My son Ian was born at The Firs in December 1969. I’m afraid I don’t have particularly fond memories of my time in there. I had to be induced and the methods used were somewhat archaic. It made Call the Midwife look futuristic.


  5. Thank you for this piece, and it’s the first time I have been able to get any information on The Firs. I was born there at the beginning of 1951, in a blizzard, according to my mother, but my parents moved away not long after my birth, so no memories of the area at all.
    It really feels like I have found an important little piece of my own history, reading this.


  6. I was born at the Firs in 1963. I am now nearly 60 years old; I lament the loss of a Maternoty home in Leigh…I was Christened and married at St Peter’s Church next door to the Firs, I hope for my ashes to be interred at St Peter’s Church next to the WW1 monument; for me I will have come full circle.


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