fonds NHS/FUL - Fulford and Maternity Hospitals Archive

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Fulford and Maternity Hospitals Archive


  • 1954-1991 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

0.96 cubic metres

57 boxes and 25 rolls

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

Fulford was opened as a 149 bedded general hospital containing three gynaecological wards of 25 beds each, a dermatological ward divided into two sections of 12 beds each for men and women, and two geriatric wards for men and women of 25 beds each. The theatre block contained two large theatres with a sterilising room between. The hospital contained accommodation for 100 midwifery and nursing staff in separate rooms as well as accommodation for domestic staff and senior and junior medical staff and matrons. On site were a pharmacy, a pathological laboratory (opened in 1954) and an X-ray department (opened in 1957). These were run as subsidiary departments to those in the main general hospitals and were designed to meet the needs of Fulford and Maternity Hospitals and those of Naburn Hospital next door. There was also a physiotherapy service available for patients, although due to severe staff shortages this had to be drastically cut in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The hospital opened in two stages. The first part, the acute wards, opened on 13 December 1954 but the two geriatric wards remained unused at first because of lack of staff. The opening of the acute wards had an immediate effect on the general medical and surgical services of the Group: all gynaecological and dermatology beds were able to be grouped together at the new hospital and there was an initial (although not long lasting) reduction in the gynaecological waiting list. The dermatology ward was able to serve a wider area than before, with patients from Scarborough and Hull being treated.

In 1956-8 the two geriatric wards were temporarily opened to receive elderly patients from St Mary’s Hospital, who were transferred to allow alterations and a redevelopment scheme to take place at the latter hospital. Elderly men patients from St Mary’s were transferred in 1956 and a few of these were also housed in the dermatology ward which was not being fully used at the time. Elderly women patients from St Mary’s were transferred to Fulford in 1958.

The hospital was said to be ‘running well’ in 1958 and by 1959 both geriatric wards were occupied and fully in operation as a permanent part of the hospital, as originally intended. Bed numbers in 1962 comprised 99 acute and 50 geriatric. The bed total had dropped slightly by 1963: to 96 acute and 50 geriatric beds giving a combined total of 146.

In 1955 there were 1810 discharges and an average daily occupancy rate of 67.2. There were 603 major and 966 minor operations. Between 1956 and 1962 yearly discharges were around 2000, rising slightly at the end of this period. Daily average occupancy rose from 88.9 in 1956 to 115.97 in 1962. Between 500 and 600 major and between 1000 and 1300 minor operations took place annually, figures for minor operations rising in the early 1960s.

Small maintenance and upgrading works took place during the 1960s. In addition, in 1962-3, major improvements to the operating theatre air conditioning plant took place, involving the transfer of a gynaecological ward to Military Hospital for two weeks. A further significant upheaval took place between 1965 and 1967 with the closure for redevelopment of the ENT/Eye ward at York County Hospital, and the temporary transfer of these services and beds to Fulford. In turn, the two Fulford geriatric wards were moved temporarily to Yearsley Bridge and Deighton Grove Hospitals, returning only with the completion of the scheme in 1967/8.

Further alterations and improvements, including new equipment, were made to the Fulford theatre suite in 1969-70, and in the early 1970s new day rooms were provided to link two of the geriatric and two of the gynaecological wards. The total bed complement remained unchanged at 146. The disposition of beds in 1975 was: 72 gynaecological beds with a theatre suite, 24 dermatological beds and 50 geriatric beds. There were about 2000 operations carried out annually. In 1975, the last full year of operation as a general hospital, there were 2200 discharges and deaths with an average daily bed occupancy of 104.44.

The dermatology and gynaecology wards closed on 18 December 1976, and services were transferred to York District Hospital. However, the two geriatric wards continued on site pending the refurbishment of City Hospital as York’s main geriatric hospital. The geriatric wards at Fulford were closed, and patients transferred to City Hospital on 12-13 May 1979. However, empty wards at Fulford were meanwhile, and for a while thereafter, used as temporary premises for patients whenever renovations were taking place elsewhere: a few patients were transferred from Naburn in 1977 due to a fire and necessary redecoration works. Between 1979 and 1983 a few patients from Clifton, Naburn and Bootham Park Hospitals were temporarily accommodated at Fulford at various times while alterations, redecoration and rewiring schemes went on. The last few patients from Clifton Hospital left on 16 June 1983 and Fulford Hospital closed, in preparation for the final closure of the whole site after the transfer of maternity services to York District Hospital later that year.

Name of creator


Administrative history

Maternity Hospital, Fulford, opened on 25 October 1954 and had its formal opening on 5 November. Although recognised by the Ministry of Health as a hospital in its own right, the Maternity Hospital shared its origins, site, and a number of common services with Fulford Hospital, and they are frequently referred to jointly as Fulford and Maternity Hospitals.

The premises which later became Fulford and Maternity Hospitals were erected during the Second World War as a Ministry of Health Emergency Medical Services hutted hospital, under the Emergency Hospital Scheme. The hospital was situated in the grounds of York City Mental Hospital. While initially used as a military hospital, the hutted buildings were later utilised for prisoners of war, being handed back to the Ministry of Health in 1949.

The York A Group Hospital Management Committee had a deficiency in Group hospital beds in 1948, and the prospect of taking over and adapting the former EMS hutted hospital was being raised as early as Spring 1949. Matters were delayed due to post war financial constraints but work had begun by September 1951.

The adapted hospital was planned to have 101 maternity beds, which would supersede the small maternity hospital at Acomb, and 149 general beds, including some geriatric ones which would be run in conjunction with the Grange Hospital (later St Mary’s Hospital) where the main geriatric service was based. It was hoped that the acquisition of these new premises would not only increase bed numbers but also allow for a greater rationalisation of wards and services between the general hospitals in the Group.

Fulford and Maternity Hospitals each had differing functions and services and separate nursing staffs. However, due to the nature of the hospital buildings, certain common services were shared between them, such as administration, domestic services and catering, as well as some clinical facilities.

Some services were also provided by or shared with the adjacent Naburn mental hospital: the new stores at Fulford Hospital were designed to serve all three hospitals, while linen and laundry, heating and hot water and engineering and maintenance services came from Naburn.

The layout of Fulford and Maternity Hospitals comprised a series of huts, mostly of brick but a few of timber, broadly built in a ‘T’ shape and connected by a covered way which was bricked in to provide a connecting corridor. The upright of the ‘T’ contained the maternity hospital while the arms of the ‘T’ contained the general hospital.

However, the maternity observation and isolation ward was contained within the general hospital section to isolate cases and also keep hospital ward blocks together. Moreover, the general operating theatre block was within the maternity section because this was its original site. Three of the ward blocks in the general hospital section were converted to midwifery staff accommodation; a new nurses’ home was also built adjacent to them.

At 108 beds, the Maternity Hospital was, at the time of its opening, one of the largest in the country. It was composed of eight blocks: one ante natal ward of 18 beds; one premature babies ward of 14 beds in four nurseries with attached accommodation for mothers; a self-contained septic ward of 9 beds all in single rooms, with a labour ward/theatre and attached facilities; a delivery block with receiving room and three four bedded first stage rooms as well as three delivery rooms plus one theatre/delivery room; and finally four lying in ward blocks of 14 beds each, all subdivided into bays and cubicles to give units no larger than 8 beds, with some single and twin bedded rooms. The lying in blocks also included three nurseries, one used for isolation. All maternity blocks were furnished with up to date facilities and equipment.

The new hospital provided not only in patient maternity service, but also provided a new base for some of the Group’s ante and post-natal clinics. These were run in conjunction with the existing, and continuing, ‘A’ Group clinics held at Duncombe Place Health Services Centre, and also with new ones held after 14 April 1955 at Gale Lane Clinic at Acomb, and from 1960 at Tang Hall Clinic.

It was noted in 1955 that York’s ante and post-natal clinics were attracting more attendances with the opening of the new hospital. In the last six months of 1955 there was an average of 200 weekly attendances at ante natal clinics. From that year patients from outlying areas were allowed to attend for most of their ante natal care at local clinics or at their GPs, with only two necessary hospital appointments.

Because Fulford had a much larger number of maternity beds than its predecessor at Acomb Hospital, there was an immediate increase in admissions from the Ridings as well as the City of York, and more city patients were also able to be booked in on social grounds. At Acomb Maternity Hospital, pressure on its small number of beds had been so intense that admissions had had to be restricted to those on medical grounds.

In 1954 the hospital was recognised, like its predecessor, as a Part II midwifery training school. The larger premises and staffing meant that there was an opportunity to train greater numbers of pupil midwives. 43 entered the Part II examination in 1955. But some effort had to be put into recruitment, and in 1958/9 a special brochure advertising the hospital was produced in order to attract new applicants for training. Numbers of pupils increased, and by 1961 63 pupil midwives were completing their training.

Some new ventures were undertaken. In 1956 a joint scheme was begun by ‘A’ Group and the local authority to provide relaxation classes and mothercraft instruction for pregnant women booked in at the hospital. This extended an existing local authority scheme for domiciliary cases, and since it involved collaboration between NHS physiotherapists and local authority health visitors it was duly noted that this provided a further step towards a coordinated system of ante natal care. Classes were held at Duncombe Place Health Services Centre, and were later extended to Gale Lane Clinic at Acomb.

In 1959/60 York ‘A’ Group was given notice by the local authority to vacate the part of the Duncombe Place premises used for ante natal work. Consequently work began in 1961 on the construction of a new ante natal clinic in front of the York County Hospital building. The intention was to provide replacement central premises which would also be larger and have more space for associated clinical work.

The new clinic opened in November 1962, and provided three booking clinics, two for hospital and one for domiciliary cases, as well as three ante natal clinics, one post-natal clinic and mothercraft and relaxation classes.

Although Fulford Maternity Hospital had a large number of beds, not all of these could be used in the late 1950s and early 1960s due to nursing staff shortages. Thus, for example, in 1956-7 94 beds out of 108 were ‘continually available’ but in 1957-8 this number was reduced, leaving only 80 available for a three month period during that year. Bed numbers officially rose from 108 to 112 in 1961/2 but staffed maternity beds in 1960 numbered only 83.

Despite these difficulties, demand for maternity services increased continuously. In the late 1950s there were between 1500 and 2000 discharges annually and between 1300 and 1500 live births. In the early 1960s discharges were around 2500 each year and live births around 2000. By the early 1970s there were around 2800-3000 live births each year.

Operations carried out, which comprised about 40-50 minor and 150-250 major operations annually in the late 1950s, were also increasing in the early 1960s: minor operations were 102 in 1961 and 88 in 1962 and major operations were 237 in 1961 and 254 in 1962.

The work of the premature baby unit also increased: from dealing with 200-250 babies annually in the late fifties to, for example, 278 babies in 1961. The rising demand for maternity hospital services was remarked upon in the A Group report for 1964/5: between 1955 and 1964 there had been an 88% increase in live births at the hospital as well as an 81% increase in ante natal attendances and a 67% increase in post-natal attendances. Ante natal attendances had been 10050 in 1955 and post-natal attendances a mere 923, while the figures for 1964 were 18139 and 1538 respectively.

The hospital underwent regular maintenance and redecoration works through the 1960s and 1970s. In 1961 a new canopy was built over the entrance to provide shelter for unloading ambulances. In 1962 the premature baby ward was provided with its own improved heating system. In 1963-4 the delivery suite and obstetric theatre were upgraded, including better air conditioning in the delivery ward theatre and sterilizing rooms and additional accommodation in the delivery ward. The upgraded accommodation was officially opened in July 1964.

Another major project in this period was the opening of the new GP unit in 1965, situated within one of the existing buildings. This had 12 beds, and its own delivery and first stage rooms, and was staffed by local GPs and domiciliary midwives under the supervision of consultant obstetricians. In 1968 a central milk feed preparation unit within the special care baby unit was opened, to supply sterile bottled feeds for all babies in the hospital. The rooms previously used for milk preparation were subsequently converted to side wards.

In 1968-9 an anaesthetic recovery room adjacent to the obstetric theatre, as well as a room for a doctor on call, were completed. In 1974-5 a major building scheme extended various facilities and provided more delivery suites and beds. In 1978-9 a scheme of minor alterations to the special care baby unit improved the visual supervision of babies by staff.

Midwifery training was expanded in the 1960s and 1970s. In the mid-sixties, a course for Part I midwifery training was begun, to add to the Part II training already offered. From 1962 a 12 week course in obstetric training was offered to student nurses undertaking general nurse training. In 1972 a single period one year training scheme for pupil midwives was introduced. This was one of the first in the country and preceded the decision in 1975 of the Central Midwives Board to discontinue Part I and Part II training in favour of a single course.

Various other changes took place in the 1970s: the new Salmon nursing structure was implemented at the Maternity Hospital, as elsewhere, in 1970, and further restructuring took place after 1974 NHS reorganisation, when the previously separate domiciliary and hospital midwifery services were integrated in a combined structure within the NHS. Complete integration built upon an already good working relationship developed over many years between the local authority domiciliary and the NHS hospital services, with existing links in training, booking and discharge procedures, and domiciliary midwife activity within the maternity hospital’s GP unit.

The trend towards hospital deliveries also had implications for the hospital, and the development schemes of the sixties and seventies, outlined above, were designed to increase as well as modernise accommodation. At the same time dropping birth rates were decreasing total demand, so that maternity hospital beds became readily available.

An early discharge system had been introduced in 1964, with some mothers attending for delivery only and being discharged into the care of a district midwife after two days. By 1976 no mother had been refused a bed at the maternity hospital for ten years, and nearly all deliveries took place there.

There were around 2500 live births at the hospital annually in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and yearly discharges from the obstetric wards, special care baby unit and GP maternity unit totalled around 3500. In 1982 the average daily numbers of available beds were 67 obstetric, 20 special care baby and 14 GP unit beds. Discharges and deaths that year were 2520 from the obstetric wards, 338 from the special care baby unit and 686 from the GP unit, while average occupancy figures were 48.2, 7 and 7.9 respectively. Live births in 1982 were 2653 and still births were 22. A total of 20 beds were available for ante natal cases.

1982 was the last complete year of opening of the maternity hospital on the Fulford site. It had remained there despite the closure of the general and geriatric wards in the adjacent hospital. A new maternity unit had been scheduled as ‘Phase III’ of the York District Hospital development scheme, and work on the unit began in the middle of 1981, and was completed by the end of 1983.

Fulford Maternity Hospital closed on 4 December 1983 when patients and services transferred to the York District Hospital.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute in 1995 as part of the transfer of York Health Archives to the Institute from their temporary home at Clifton Hospital. Further additions were made to the archive in 1996 and 1998.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Administrative records, comprising Special Hospitals House Committee minutes (covering Fulford and Maternity Hospitals, Yearsley Bridge Hospital, and Fairfield Hospital), 1954-1967, with attendance book, 1956-1967; Joint Consultative Committee minutes, 1955-1976, with attendance book, 1955-1976; committee of inquiry reports and taped interviews, 1963; visitors book, 1954-1981; programme for official opening, 1954; prospectus for trainee nurses, c.1974-c.1976; photographs of Fulford Maternity Hospital, 1970s.

Land and buildings records, comprising plans and drawings, 1948-c.1974.

Stores and equipment records, comprising requisitions books, 1954.

Fulford Hospital patient records, comprising admission registers, 1954-1956, 1975-1979, includes patients transferred temporarily from Clifton and Naburn Hospitals, 1980-1983; theatre registers, 1954-1976; ward report books, 1955-1956.

Maternity Hospital patient records, comprising antenatal patients address books, 1955-1961; admission registers, 1954-1983; clinical registers of patients, 1954-1956; patient registers, 1956-1983; general practitioner unit patient registers, 1965-1983; consultant unit patient registers, 1970-1983; delivery operating theatre registers, 1970-1985; case sheets, 1954-1955; ward statistics sheets, 1985-1970; patient indices, 1979-1983; Central Midwives Board registers, 1955-1969, and registers of cases for professional attendance other than personal deliveries, 1979-1989; and midwife’s drug book, 1976-1991.


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws. Many of these records contain sensitive personal and confidential information which is likely to be restricted under data protection legislation and the terms of deposit. For records less than 100 years old, please contact the Borthwick Institute via email or letter. 24 hours' notice is required to access photographic material.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Includes open reel audio tape. Access to audiovisual material may be restricted due to technical requirements, please contact the Borthwick Institute for more information.

Finding aids

A typescript finding aid, to file level, is available for consultation in the searchroom of the Borthwick Institute.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

For related material held by the Borthwick Institute, see York A Group Hospital Management Committee Archive, particularly its printed annual reports, as well as the pamphlet 'The York School of General Nursing,' c.1964-1965 in the York County Hospital Archive. There are also three related articles in York Health District newsletter in York Health District Archive: a ‘Unit Feature’ on the hospitals in April 1975; ‘Reflections on the Midwifery Service’ by Miss Dodd, in March 1976, and an article on the retirement of Miss Dodd in March 1976.

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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion



  • English



Accession area