Bedford Row Lying-In Hospital, 1868-1971

Repository: Limerick City Archives

Identity Statement

TitleBedford Row Lying-In Hospital, 1868-1971
Archive ReferenceIE LA P5
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1868-1971
Extent Medium5.00 Boxes


Creator(s): Bedford Row Lying In Hospital

  • Administrative History ↴

    The Bedford Row Lying-In hospital was founded in 1812 as a charitable institution to provide maternity care for the poor of Limerick city. The 1868 annual report outlined the important role of the hospital, noting that ‘those who have witnessed the sufferings of the wives and mothers of the poor who meet their hour of trial in a crowded hovel or dreary cellar can alone appreciate the benefits of this Institution, which secures to them safety, comfort and quiet, and in many cases provides clothing for both women and children' (P5/1). By 1898, the services of the hospital had expanded. The hospital acted as a training centre for nurses, a dispensary for treatment of diseases peculiar to women and children had been established, and the Child Welfare Committee operated a clinic for children from the basement of the hospital. From 1812 until 1960 the hospital was managed by a voluntary Ladies Management Committee, which was elected annually. The responsibilities and concerns of the management committee included the management of medical staff and financial affairs of the hospital, the maintenance of the hospital building, and improving the facilities and services at the Bedford Row hospital. The hospital was financed by fundraising activities of the committee, voluntary subscriptions, and by an annual grant from Limerick Corporation. Physicians gave medical service free of charge for destitute patients. Physicians also used the facilities of the hospital to care for private (fee-paying) patients. The management committee minute books (P5/26-28) and annual reports (P5/1- 25) frequently recorded the need for building work at the hospital to improve facilities and eliminate overcrowding. Whilst various improvements to the hospital building were carried out in nineteenth and early twentieth century, the financial resources needed to carry out a major building project, were not available to the committee. In 1930 the Public Charitable Hospitals Act established the Hospital Sweepstakes. The Bedford Row hospital, as a charitable institution, qualified for support from the Hospital Sweepstake fund and the financial position of the hospital became sound. The management committee decided to purchase a new site to build a new maternity hospital. In 1935 a site was purchased at Belfield Park, on the north side of the Shannon River. However plans to erect a new hospital were halted by the onset of World War II. In 1949 the Minister of Health announced plans to build a Limerick Regional Maternity hospital to service Limerick city and county, Tipperary and Clare, which was to be operated by Limerick Corporation. Limerick Corporation was instructed to compulsorily acquire the Belfield site for this purpose. External pressure was then put on for the closure of Bedford Row Hospital. The hospital was excluded from the Hospital Sweepstake funds, and the Corporation grant was withdrawn in 1956. However the hospital continued in operation until 1975. During this time, it mainly provided maternity care for private patients of the physicians rather than for poor of the city.
  • Archival History ↴

    Donated by Bedford Row Hospital on its closure in 1975
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Bedford Row Lying In Hospital ↴

    Annual Reports (1868 – 1971) which provide a useful overview of hospital activities, number of patients treated, and financial position of the hospital on an annual basis. However there are no annual reports in the collection for the first fifty-three years of the hospital, and there is an incomplete set of reports for the years 1868-1971.

    Management Committee (1927 – 1970) which relates to the administration and financing of the hospital. Includes Management Committee Minute books and correspondence relating to financial matters, repairs and renovations, Irish Sweepstake Fund, and sale of hospital premises to Irish Cinemas Limited

    Medical Staff and Patients (1904 – 1970) which includes registration of births (1904-1970), minute book of visiting medical staff and physicians (1888-1948), material relating to Limerick Child Welfare Committee, sub-committee for control of mid-wives (1923), annual medical reports (1957-1960) giving statistical returns on numbers of patients treated annually and miscellaneous letters received by medical staff (1921-1942).

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Accruals ↴

    None expected
  • Arrangement ↴

    Annual Reports
    Management Committee
    Medical Staff and Patients

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Restricted access to P5/49-P5/54 Material available in digital format on
Conditions Governing ReproductionRestricted access to P5/49-P5/54
Creation Dates1868-1971
Extent Medium5.00 Boxes
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive list Material available in digital format on Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Related MaterialL/AH/PH Limerick City Council Public Health Records held by Limerick Archives. Department of Health records held by the National Archives of Ireland. Publications: Terry Forristel, 'Bedford Row Hospital' (unpublished article)

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteJacqui Hayes
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions40575