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The maternity hospital

Buckingham Road
Photo by Tony Mould

A formidable character

My twin sister and I were born at the Maternity Hospital in Buckingham Road on June 27th 1956. Being a twin birth, the consultant, Dr Constance Benyon, was in attendance. She apparently was a formidable character but an excellent obstetrician. As a midwife myself, I have read some of her articles from the 1950s and she was very pro-natural birth. Her views were probably influenced by the fact that she at least once carried working on the delivery suite right up until going into labour.

Do you remember the blue or pink ribbons? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.

Shaped my choice of career?

As we lived in Buckingham Road, when I grew up, I did a paper round from Tuppen’s the newsagent in Upper Gloucester Road. I actually delivered papers to mothers in the Maternity Unit. I remember the Nightingale post-natal ward, with the babies in calico cots in a line down the middle of the ward. They were only moved to the end of their mother’s beds at visiting time. Blue or pink ribbons were tied to the top of the cots. Maybe those visits helped shape my future career.

Comments about this page

  • I dont think the building shown is the maternity hospital!  I think the site of the maternity hospital is further along the road, however the original building was demolished, and replaced with a concrete structure!

    Editor’s note: The photograph is not of the maternity hospital as it is not there any more. That is why this page is in the Buckingham Road section and entitled ‘Buckingham Road’. The subheading ‘The maternity hospital’ indicates the content of the reminiscence. Jennifer ;0)

    By Peter Groves (20/04/2014)
  • I was born in Buckingham Road hospital in 1947, I think it was called Sussex Maternity Hospital then, and my four brothers and sisters were also born there, the youngest sibling in 1968.  The last time I went there was in 1970 when my nephew was born.  I remember the same set up with the cots all lined up in the middle of the ward, and what stayed in my memory was the fact that smoking was allowed in the ward, with one of the visitors smoking very close to my sister’s new baby son, and my sister must have realised how bad it was even then for a new baby to be inhaling cigarette smoke, and she used very colourful language to tell him to stop smoking around her baby. I don’t really know what the smoking laws are in the UK, as I left to go to Australia soon after my nephew was born, My son was born six months after in a little Australian hospital, and smoking was banned.  No doubt the UK stopped people smoking anywhere in hospitals many years ago, thank goodness.

    By Sandie (21/04/2014)
  • My late mother, Mary Doogan was a midwife there up until it closed. I was born there in 1957 and my brother, John was born there in 1955. We used to visit the Christmas Day babies each year! Mum always said the hospital was haunted and said it was a very eerie place to work in at night! 

    By Maggie Williams (nee Doogan) (10/05/2014)
  • I was born at the Sussex maternity hospital in 1958.  Old family photo taken by my grandmother.

    By Malcolm Marshall (12/07/2014)
  • Nope, that photo is definitely not of the maternity hospital! I was born there on June 21st 1968.

    By Uncle Ruckus (13/07/2014)
  • I was born at Sussex Maternity Home in 1945. I am told that the Latin quotation over the door read “Absque Labore Nihil” as it had been a boys’ school before that!

    By Rosie Rushton (14/07/2014)
  • The [then] Brighton Grammar School was at that spot until it moved to its location on Dyke Road in 1913, now BHASVIC.  Absque Labore Nihil [“Without work, nothing”] was the school motto. At the Old Boys Reunion last Saturday it was sung with great gusto. I was at the school 1961-66. There is a plaque hidden away on the adjacent building to Mr Marshall the headmaster at Buckingham Rd; the boarding house at Brighton & Hove Grammar was known as Marshall House.

    By Geoffrey Mead (15/07/2014)
  • Hi there Belinda, I think I have the right person. Is your twin sister’s name Vanessa? I used to do a paper round (am and pm) for the newsagents in Buckingham Road (near the corner with Guildford Road) and I also used to work in the grocer’s Shop when it was run by Alf Portnoy. I lived at number 37. How the devil are you and your sister? Do you also have a brother?

    By Graham Maskell (17/11/2014)
  • I was born in this hospital in 1969.  How things have changed! My Dad wasn’t allowed in with my Mum whilst she was in labour and she stayed in hospital for 2 weeks after a normal delivery. And I have had the pleasure of working with the lovely Belinda Lumsden. 

    By Katie Mciver (19/06/2016)
  • I was born in this hospital in 1969.  How things have changed! My Dad wasn’t allowed in with my Mum whilst she was in labour and she stayed in hospital for two weeks after a normal delivery. And I have had the pleasure of working with the lovely Belinda Lumsden. 

    By Katie Mciver (19/06/2016)
  • Late reply to Graham Maskell -yes my twin sister is Vanessa and Brian my brother. We all still in the Brighton area but a lot older! Did you go to Brighton technical college?
    Hi to Katie, very nice of you to mention me. I am still a midwife in my dotage working at Worthing hospital.

    By Belinda Lumsden (20/06/2016)
  • Reply to Belinda Lumsden. Hi Belinda, yes I used to go to the Secondary Technical School. I remember waiting at the bottom of Elm Grove in Lewes Road with you and Vanessa for the 38 bus to take us home. I now live in Lancing and have been married for 39 years. Hope you are all well. Just thinking, the time we are talking about is about 1971 that’s 45 years ago….Good Grief.

    By Graham Maskell (29/12/2016)
  • I was born in the Buckingham Rd Hospital in Feb 1947. Very cold year I am told.

    By Brian Reynolds (29/08/2017)
  • I was born there in 1943. We lived diagonally opposite the hospital in 9b Buckingham Rd. I’ve lived in Australia for many years now but visit Brighton every couple of years or so. I went to Buckingham Rd last July and was shocked to see the building was just a shell. Good news though, I knocked at 9b and the lovely people let me in to see my childhood home!

    By Catherine Jupp (10/01/2018)
  • Hello, help me please! I was told I was born in this hospital in 1966. My parents lived in Buckingham Road. Was this hospital behind Brighton station? I was also told we were the last babies there in 1966.  

    By Ashley Stuckey (10/02/2018)
  • Reply to Ashley.  Yes it was very close to the station, up the hill of Guildford Road to where it meets with Buckingham Road -the top right hand corner.  My son was born there July 1970 and I think it closed later that year or possibly early 1971? 

    By Maureen Beech (15/02/2018)
  • My sister’s son Seb was born Dec 1970 at the new Eastern Road tower block maternity unit, which had just opened, and he was one of the first to be born there, so it does look like the switch to the new hospital was late 1970.

    By Peter Groves (15/02/2018)
  • I was born in the Sussex Maternity Hospital in Brighton in December 1943 during WWII. Sorry I can’t give you any more details but my parents have both passed away. I think my mother and I were very well cared for, however, even though it was during the war.

    By Margaret Rodrigues (12/03/2018)
  • My late mother, Celia M Snelling, gave birth to me in Buckingham Road Maternity Hospital in 1938.  I am compiling a family tree. I would love to see a photograph of the original building. If anyone can help, please get in touch, I would love to hear from you.

    By John Snelling (07/11/2018)
  • John Snelling, there is a beautiful photograph of the original building on this website beneath my comment. My Father, Roy James Taylor, was born here on April 21st 1941. My Grandfather & Grandmother lived in Tottenham, London, but were evacuated to Brighton shortly before his birth.

    By Lucy Taylor (29/04/2019)
  • On 31st March 1952 on my tenth birthday, I found myself being driven in a small white van with my Mum and sister to Brighton from Palmers Green in London. I was about to enter into a house at 65 Upper Gloucester Road where I was to live for three years. The house was a four storey house with a garden that stretched through for ages to the Brighton Film Studios. I was completely overcome with the beauty of Brighton with the Promettes and the amazing atmosphere, so different from Palmers Green. My Dad travelled every day to Berkeley Square in London where he worked and we had a very happy time with the owners of the house Pem and Pop Bell who looked after us and made us very welcome. I was absolutely besotted with Brighton – the Brighton Museum and children’s Library where we spent many hours, the magical sight of all those holidaymakers who poured down Queens Road to the beach in the Summer, the taxis in gold and black, the magic of Brighton in the Fifties with the beautiful lower promenade with all the flowers and boating lake, the Punch and Judy man, the famous Ice Skating champion Barbara Wyatt whose Dad ran the shop down the road. I found Brighton a magical place and still do although I am now in my seventies. Eventually, my Dad found a house in Hove but I did so miss the house which has since been demolished but rebuilt exactly as it was and is on the market for over £600,000. t is great to see it looking exactly the same but without the amazing residents in it at the time!

    By Jillian Foley (08/06/2019)
  • Was this the only maternity hospital in Brighton in 1955? My brother was born in Brighton and I’m trying to find out exactly where.

    By Anna (24/06/2019)
  • Anna, I was born at the Brighton General in 1955.

    By Janet Beal (25/06/2019)
  • My birth certificate states that I was Born at the “Sussex Maternity Hospital U.D.” – Boy Christopher in 1944.

    By Christopher Wallis (10/11/2019)
  • The maternity hospital was at the top of upper gloucester road and not the building shown I and my twin sister were born there in September 1942. I didn’t know it had been a school previously !! Can you imagine middle of a world war and then Mum had to go home to a cottage no running hot water and an outside lavatory !!!

    By Martin Tidy (13/11/2019)
  • I was born there with my twin sister in 1942 can you imagine middle of a world war and then Mum had to go home to a cottage with no running hot water and an outside lavatory !!! No TV washing machine no fridge or freezer !!! The picture shown was not the Hospital that was at the top of Gloucester Road now gone !!

    By Martin Tidy (13/11/2019)
  • My Dad and Uncle were born here on 10th March 1954. They were 3 months premature and weighed less than a bag of sugar. Not sure how true it was but I was told a plaque was put up in the hospital about the twins. Their names are Barry and Sid.

    By Claire Wright (29/01/2020)
  • Reply to Rosie Rushton and Geoffrey Mead: I was born in the hospital in February 1953. Little did I know at that time that I would attend the Brighton Hove and Sussex grammar school years later (1964-1969) and had in effect been born in the school. I spent four of my five years in Marshall House.

    By Colin Moules (16/04/2020)
  • Like you Colin, I am connected with both the hospital and school. I was born at Buckingham Road Maternity Hospital at 5.30am on the 22 March 1950 weighing in at 6 lbs 13 ozs! Then in September 1961 I arrived at Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School at the Dyke Road location and left in July 1968. In recent years I have attended the school annual reunion lunch which is held in the magnificent school hall of what is now BHASVIC. There are for any old boys of the grammar school a number of links on this site which show many of the school photographs and memories of those of us who attended the school.

    By Nick Lade (19/04/2020)
  • I notice reference to “Sussex Maternity Hospital U.D.”. Does anyone know what the ‘U.D.’ stands for please? My auntie died just the other day and I noticed her place of birth was 78 Buckingham Road, which I think was the maternity hospital in 1932.

    By Paul Webber (14/07/2020)
  • Paul, prior to the early 1970s, U.D. very often stood for “Urban District”. I may be wrong to suggest this (someone please tell me if I am), but I can’t help wondering.
    Although the hospital existed within the centre of what was then the Brighton County Borough, didn’t it serve the neighbouring Urban District Council populations of Sussex as well, hence the name “Sussex Maternity Hospital” (although not the only one in Sussex)?
    I hope I’m not just confusing things … apologies if I am ; I think the history of local government administration in Sussex is particularly complicated!

    By Sam Flowers (15/07/2020)
  • My Mum told me I was born in the Princess Alexandra Maternity hospital in Brighton. It had been demolished by the 60s. I was born in 1954. I can’t find anything about it online. Buckingham Rd also rings a bell but that wasn’t demolished by the 60s. Can anyone shed any light? I’ve now been away from Brighton for over 40 years and still miss it! (Well as it was then anyway! )

    By Stella Krauzewicz (30/09/2020)
  • I remember those cots with the pink and blue ribbons which used to jiggle when babies cried. I was in Sussex Maternity Hospital in 1968 when my daughter was born. Little nighties, vests and nappies were all supplied and babies only brought into the ward for feeding and visiting time. By 1971 the maternity services were transferred to the Royal Sussex County Hospital tower block.

    By Liz Adley (08/11/2020)
  • I was born at Sussex Maternity Hospital in 1943 and my youngest daughter in 1968. My oldest daughter was born in the Brighton General in 1965 and my youngest, a son, in the Sussex County .The Buckingham Road Sussex maternity was my favourite! The building in question looks like where I went to Sussex dancing school late 40s early fifties !

    By Di Bolt (24/04/2021)
  • I was born at the Sussex Maternity Hospital on 31 December 1954. My mum was cross as I arrived just before midnight, and New Years Day babies always got their photo in the papers so we didn’t !
    My brother was born here in 1964 but my sister and I were not allowed to visit so mum had to hold him up at the window so we could meet him.

    By Chris Corrall (09/06/2022)

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