The Crawshaw Family moved to Scotland for the period of the war, but in September 1938 Lord and Lady Crawshaw had kindly offered the use of Whatton House as a maternity hospital in case of emergency. Later with the imminence of war the House was inspected by the Ministry of Health and found to be suitable. It was made available for the use of expectant mothers who had been evacuated from London and Birmingham.The furniture from the House was stored, and additional sinks, lavatories and other fittings were installed and the hospital was opened on September 24th 1939. However it was closed temporarily on December 12th 1939 owing to the London evacuees returning home. During that period 9 patients were admitted and 8 babies were born. The London County Council supplied the nurses. The 1939 England and Wales Register gives the staff and patients at the Maternity Hospital on October 13th 1939. These are listed on the Register
With the resumption of enemy activity the hospital was reopened on October 7th 1940, the nursing staff was sent from the Royal Northern hospital and they remained until the hospital closed in March 1945. During this time 21 mid wives worked there and 234 pupil midwifes were trained and successfully passed their examinations. There were 40 beds, 2421 patients, 1213 male babies were born and 1111 females. There were 10 sets of twins, 2 miscarriages, 12 infant deaths, 36 stillbirths and 2 maternal deaths.
The Hospital was open for a total of 1716 days,having a total of 36940 patient days. This incurred a total expenditure of £23,600, giving an average cost per patient of £4-17s-9d.
The enemy dropped bombs three times in the vicinity of the hospital, the first time within half a mile demolishing the Rectory causing the death of the maid, the second time in the fields three-quarters of a mile away. On the night of February 0th 1941 30 incendiary bombs fell in the grounds of Whatton House, one within six yards of the nursery. No damage was done and in less than ten minutes members of the staff and Lord Crawshaw's gardeners put out all the fires.
During a blizzard in February 1941 snowdrifts made access to the hospital impossible for mechanical transport. Food was brought to the hospital by sledge from the main road. Fortunately no patients required admission until the snow was cleared. However on 27th February 1944 there were over 14 inches of snow in the Whatton area and some of drifts were over 5 feet deep. During the night when one of the Loughborough St John's ambulances made a journey with a patient, trees had fallen across the drive and unfortunately the ambulance sank into a deep drift The patient had to be taken from the ambulance on a stretcher and a squad of soldiers from the tank corps helped to dig out the ambulance when it was daylight. Fortunately the patient had no ill effects and the baby was born two hours after admission to the hospital. Lord Crawshaw and his family returned to the House in 1946.
On Saturday and Sunday, 26-27th of September 2009, with the kind permission of Lord and Lady Crawshaw and in conjunction with the Long Whatton History Society and the Diseworth Heritage Centre, a reunion was held for all the babies, born at the Maternity Hospital Long Whatton, between September 1939 and March 1945. The event was open to the general public. This was the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Maternity Hospital on the 24th September 1939. An exhibition was held at Whatton House and also at the nearby Diseworth Heritage Centre.
This was the 2nd reunion, the first was held by the late Lord Crawshaw on June 22nd 1997. On that occasion more than 250 “babies” and their relatives attended the reunion.
We have through our web pages, received emails from around the world from people who were born at the Maternity Hospital and were keen to find out more about their birthplace.