Architect plan for ground floor Infirmary 1930s

Centenary of maternity

On the 8th July, 1922, a new maternity ward named “Beatrice Ward,” was born at Salisbury General Infirmary. Named in recognition of the great interest taken in its foundation by both the Countess of Pembroke and the Dowager Countess of Pembroke. (The Earls of Pembroke held the role of President of Salisbury Infirmary)

The new ward was described in this extract of the 1922 history of the Infirmary book, entitled ‘The Maternity Ward’:

After considerable internal reconstruction the old out-patient department and dispensary, which occupied the the (sic) ground floor of the north-east wing of the main building, was adapted as a maternity ward, and the doctors’ consulting rooms at the east end of the same wing were converted into nurses bedrooms, with a separate entrance from the garden. This new ward, which was opened by the Dowager Countess of Pembroke on 8th July, 1922, has named “Beatrice Ward,” in recognition of the great interest taken in its foundation by both the Countess of Pembroke and the Dowager Countess of Pembroke. It has supplementary rooms, including a lying-in room, waiting room, kitchen, bathroom, offices, etc., and although started on very unpretentious lines, the ward undoubtedly provides for the city and district a small but very efficient department completely equipped with accommodation for six patients, thus supplying a long-felt want in this part of the county. Both the Wilts County Council and Salisbury Town Council have agreed (subject to the sanction of the Ministry of Public Health) to pay the Infirmary an agreed sum per week for each patient sent into this department by their respective medical officers.

Countess of Pembroke

Beatrice Eleanor Herbert (née Paget), Countess of Pembroke by Bassano Ltd 14 March 1922 © National Portrait Gallery, London

George Sidney Herbert and Beatrix Louisa

Sir George Sidney Herbert, 1st Bt; Beatrix Louisa (née Lambton), Countess of Pembroke and Montgomery by Bassano Ltd 2 February 1937 © National Portrait Gallery, London


Shortly after the opening, Miss Adeline Cable, who was Matron of Salisbury Infirmary was interviewed in the Nursing Mirror and Midwives journal 8 August 1925 (on her retirement from SGI after 18 years service) It gives a very romantic view of the new maternity area and surroundings! The interviewer writes:

Here Miss Cable and I talked of her coming departure, and of the many new developments at the hospital, while we walked along the paths flanked with hollyhocks, their flowers flaming far above our heads, or bordered with pale evening primroses almost as tall. We passed under pergolas of crimson ramblers, an from below floated up the intoxicating scent of great clumps of scarlet carnations. Alongside the clear waters of the Avon flowing placidly by…

The maternity Department, with all its windows open to the garden, and its white beds with white swing cot fixed at the foot of each, breathed an atmosphere of cool freshness, while the mothers all looked so contented and smiling. And, on this hot afternoon, not one baby was crying!


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