Black Country babbies help open new building

Black Country Living Museum invited 75 babies to celebrate the opening of its replica of Wolverhampton’s Lea Road Infant Welfare Centre, which will share stories about maternal and infant healthcare in the 1960s.

The Black Country was represented in force today (Thursday 12 October), as families from all over Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton came together to find out what pre- and post-natal care would have been like, had their babies been born 60 years earlier. 

A combination of archival materials, donated objects and memories have brought the Museum’s first medical building to life, transporting visitors to 1961 and a time when cod liver oil and concentrated orange juice were familiar sights.

Beth Lucas-Pearce brought along her five-month-old daughter, Eleanor, to join the celebration:

“It has been really interesting to see what maternal care was like in the 1960s – the leaflets, the very basic toys, the heavy old-fashioned prams. Things have obviously moved on significantly, but the backbone stays the same.

“Thank you to the Museum for inviting us to take part in such a special occasion.”

When Lea Road Infant Welfare Centre opens on Monday 16 October, visitors will be able to explore a waiting room, doctor’s surgery and dispensary, and meet new costumed characters.

‘Cicilyn Sinclair’, the Museum’s brand-new midwife, will share experiences of travelling to the Black Country from Jamaica as part of the Windrush Generation. ‘Lynne Davies’ is a health visitor, who helped expectant and new mothers in early motherhood.

For Lindsey Westwood, a midwife who brought baby Imogen, it was a great insight as to what her career could have been like:

“It’s fascinating looking around the building and seeing the equipment on display. While midwifery has changed significantly, the ethos of being a midwife and caring for baby and mum remains the same.”