Muriel King

The Mothers' Hospital
Interviewed by Claudia Jessop

Muriel King was born in South Hackney in 1929, and apart from a spell in Aldgate when she was first married, has lived in Hackney all her life. Both her parents were Jewish. Her mother was born in Odessa in Russia and came to England in the 1920s. Her father was born in London and was a shopkeeper and later a painter and decorator for Hackney Council. He also fought in the First World War. Muriel attended Lauriston Primary School, in its original Victorian London School Board building on Lauriston Road, and Gayhurst Primary School in London Fields. In 1939, when she was ten years old, she was evacuated to Devon. She returned to London in 1942 and the following year she left school to begin work as a shop assistant in Jax’s Department Store in the Narroway. Eventually, she became a window dresser, and worked for Jax’s for the next ten years, travelling all over the country to dress their shop windows. She met her husband, a local gents’ tailor’s cutter, at a family party, and they were married at Brenthouse Road Synagogue. Her first son was born at Mile End Hospital in Bancroft Road, but by the time her second son was born the family had returned to Hackney, and he was born at the Mothers’ Hospital in 1960.  For 23 years, between 1970 and her retirement in 1993, Muriel worked as the receptionist at Frydman's Opticians in Mare Street (formerly Silverman and Frydman, this optician's has been on the same site since just after the second world war). Muriel still lives in the same flat in South Hackney that she moved into with her family 38 years ago. They were the very first occupants, in one of the new blocks built to extend the Frampton Park Estate in the early 1970s.

The birth of her son at the Mothers'

Muriel describes the birth of her son at the Mothers' Hospital in 1960. She remembers the excellent reputation enjoyed by the hospital, the pre- and post-natal advice she was given, the strict policy of bed-rest throughout the first week after birth, and the general appearance of the wards.


Muriel talks about bottle-feeding, and about the very strict feeding regime advocated at the Mothers'.

Abiding by the rules.

Muriel recalls the strict rules by which patients at the Mothers' had to abide, including not being allowed to hold their babies other than at prescribed times, and not being allowed to eat between meals.

Family visitors

Muriel recalls a visit from her husband, and a touching gesture by her older son towards his new baby brother.

The wards and staff.

Muriel remembers the daily routine in the hospital, how the wards were furnished, the impressive effect of the different staff uniforms, and the solemn atmosphere of an inspection by the Matron.

Treatment today.

Muriel speculates as to the main differences between maternity care now and when she was a young mother in the 1950s and early 1960s.

This page was added by Lisa Rigg on 15/10/2009.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.