OLD DEVONPORT . UK
www.olddevonport.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 16, 2016.
Webpage updated: August 31, 2017

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ALEXANDRA MATERNITY or NURSING HOME

Alexandra Nursing Home, Stoke.
From a postcard dated 1934.

Known to some people as the Alexandra Maternity Home and to others as the Alexandra Nursing Home, this establishment was located at number 1 Saint Michael's Terrace, Stoke. It steadily grew to take over numbers 1, 2, and 3, while the Soldiers', Sailors' and Air Force Children's Home was at number 5.

The Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association was founded in 1885 at the instigation of Major James Gildea (1838-1920).  The Alexandra Nurses were started in 1892.  It was initially funded by the Admiralty, the King George's Fund for Sailors and by contributions from the men themselves.  Canada contributed 2,000 towards the Hospital at one time.  Eventually Plymouth City Council provided funds to enable civilian cases to be admitted.

Services of the Alexandra Nurses were available for the wives and families of Service men in general sickness free of charge, and for District Midwifery the fee was on a sliding scale from 10s to 21s according to income, for the ten days' Nursing attention.

Maternity cases were received in the Alexandra Home for a period of not less than a fortnight, the fees varying from 15s to 42s per week.  These fees include nursing, food, laundry, and all clothing, doctor's fees, if necessary, during the stay in the Home.  The Matron was "at home" to patients daily before 10am, and from 2-3pm (Saturdays excepted), and on Mondays and Thursdays from 7-9pm. 

A Children's Home was officially opened at number 12 Collingwood Villas, Stoke, on Wednesday November 21st 1917.  Lady Drury, the secretary of the Royal Naval Friendly Union of Sailors' Wives performed the opening ceremony.  The Children's Home took the young children of sailors and soldiers men while their wives were laid up in the Maternity Home.  They also took motherless children up to the age of seven years.

Miss Alice Maria Ethel Gyles (not "Giles"), a native of Hampshire, was Matron until she retired in 1929.  Her Obituary reveals that she began the work at Devonport in 1905, when 'she started a system under the committee of general and maternity nursing for the wives and families of soldiers and sailors in Devonport'.  A home with eight beds was opened in Tamar Terrace in 1914.  Later it was moved to Saint Michael's Terrace, where 20 beds were provided.  This work was in addition to her responsibilities towards the local, district maternity patients.    The Obituary continued: 'She was extremely capable and did good work and was well liked'.  Although Miss Gyles died in Alphington, Exeter, on Tuesday June 1st 1943, she was cremated at Efford Crematorium in Plymouth, on the following Friday.

A Miss L A Jolliffe was Matron during the 1930s.  In 1937 a new private ward of nine beds was opened.

The Alexandra apparently closed on Friday September 27th 1985, when the last 21 patients were transferred to Freedom Fields Hospital.  The buildings have been demolished and replaced with new housing.
 

The author was born in the Alexandra Maternity Home in 1947.
I am indepted to Mr David Powell, of East Sussex, for drawing my attention to the correct spelling of Miss Gyles' name.