Larraine and Ken Worpole

The Mothers' Hospital
Interviewed by Dianna Hunt and Toby Butler

Larraine and Ken Warpole met and married in 1965 and they moved to Hackney in 1969. Their two children were born at the Mothers’ Hospital in Clapton. During the early 1970s Larraine and Ken were involved in the campaign to improve maternity services in the borough. They still live in Hackney and are very active within their community particularly with the Clissold Park Users Group. Larraine is a photographer and Ken is the author of many books on social history, landscape and architecture, as well as a professor at London Metropolitan University. 

Image accompanying MP3 audio clip: Meeting Ken my husband ( KB)

Meeting Ken my husband

Larraine recalls meeting her husband and their eventual move to Hackney at the end of the 1960s.

Hygiene at the hospital

Larraine describes the cleanliness of the Mothers' Hospital. She talks about how visitors -including the fathers- were not encouraged to pick up babies for fear of germs.

Missionary zeal

Larraine describes The Mothers' Hospital's "missionary zeal" and general attitudes to men, she compares it to the Radical feminist's attitudes to men.

Mums pretending to be married

Larraine remembers how single mums would keep quiet about their single status and pretend they were married.

The babies' bathrooms

Larraine recall how her baby was wheeled into the bathroom at night. You couldn't see your baby at night and you were not encouraged to get out of bed. She stayed in hospital for five days. She recalls having to bath her child.

Sunday services

Larraine describes how Sunday was no visiting night and how the hospital had a missionary feel. She was not religious but felt that the service was enforced. "I'm in a hospital it's up to me if I take part in this." She remembers that Sunday Service consisted of hymns, a sermon and a report of the Salvation Army's work in Africa. She remembers it as being a gloomy day and she resented being forced to participate.

Image accompanying MP3 audio clip: "There is someone who claims to be the father of your child on the telephone." ( KB)

"There is someone who claims to be the father of your child on the telephone."

Ken recalls moving to Hackney 1969 and the birth of his first child in November of the same year. He talks about the strict visiting time, and not being able to pick up his baby because of the hospital's preoccupation with hygiene. Ken recalls a distinct lack of interest in his role as the father. He remembers that fathers were seen as outsiders and there was no question of them attending the birth.

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

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