The Big Houses Of The Heatons: Mile End Hall – Part Six: Maternity Hospital to School

If your parents or grandparents were born in Stockport, there is a chance that they were born at Mile End Hall. Between 1928 and 1938 the Hall was used as a maternity annexe to Stepping Hill Hospital.

Mile End Lane 1920, the Hall and entrance just visible on the left

There is not much I can find of the time as a hospital, suffice to say that they did have a problem recruiting and retaining cooks, there are four adverts in the space of eight years. It is possibly because the adverts were placed in the Yorkshire press, where presumably the staff were sourced, and Stockport gravidas were averse to the foreign fare served east of the Pennines.

Sister L M Whiteside

We do know however who the night sister was in the early years, Sister Whiteside trained at Oldham Municipal Hospital before transferring to Mile End Hall, and went on to run the maternity ward at Preston Infirmary and in 1934 sailed to Newfoundland to take up the post as Nurse Supervisor for the Government there.

Inside Stockport Maternity Hospital

The only other mentions of the hospital occur in the births column of local newspapers.

Lancashire Evening Post, 6 November 1934

However, the Education Committee had their eyes on the site. A new secondary school for girls was built on Greek Street in 1909 next to the Technical School for boys and behind Stockport Grammar school (which had moved from its central Stockport site in Adlington Square).

The Girls Secondary School 1909

By 1928 there was serious overcrowding in the schools, expansion had meant that ad hoc facilities were built and there was overspill into neighbouring buildings. As today, there were not sufficient funds available to spend

In addition the 1936 Education Act replaced the old elementary system of education (which catered for ages 5-14) with both junior schools (5-11) and secondary schools (12+). This required the cooperation of the CofE and Roman Catholic Schools, who were reluctant to hand over control, but also unable to fund the necessary expansions. There was also an internal reluctance in the council who thought that spending money on educating the working classes was an unnecessary extravagance.

Mile End Hall 1938 ©Ordnance Survey

However, on 1 September 1937 the site at Mile End Hall was earmarked for the school, on the understanding that the Maternity Hospital would be transferred to Stepping Hill Hospital. There was now only local opposition to overcome. This was because the land between the Hall and Lake Street (ie the site of the present School and playing fields ) was a beech forest, and this housed the largest rookery in East Cheshire.

Today, the school would not have been built on this site, however, times were different, and the only concession that the residents extracted was that a few beech trees would be kept on a wide boulevard between the school and the main Buxton Road. Poor drainage put paid to the trees, and only a few if any now survive, but that is why the footpath on the A6 is so wide on the school side.

The Education Committee’s intention of pulling down the Hall was thwarted by the intransigence of the Maternity and Child Welfare Committee who saw no reason to lose a facility, and used the premises as a Nurse’s home until 1962 when the Education Committee finally managed to gain possession and pull the building down, and build the present Tennis Courts.

Until then it remained, uncomfortably alongside a boys school. History does not record whether the fascination of a nurses home alongside an adolescent boy’s school raised the same interest as we had in the Convent High School across the road in my days.

Uneasy bedfellows

The postcard shows the extent of the loss of trees. Behind the houses at the top right of the picture you can also see the Blue Lagoon Lido which was also lost in the 1970s, but also built around the same time as the School.

Don’t get me started on the fact we have lost two swimming pools from Mile End (there was one in the school opened at the end of the 1960s). Plus an Art Deco Cinema, The Davenport, and of course a Beech Forest. However, despite all that I enjoyed my time tremendously at the School, and have nothing but fond memories of good teachers, so as far as I was concerned it was a great move by the council.

If you are interested in the History of Stockport School, you cannot do worse than read Wilf Colclough’s excellent account.

Next time we will return to the Heatons and muse on who the Parr family may have been.

© 2020 Allan Russell

Author: allanprussell

Big houses in the Heatons and others that take my interest.

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