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.