young victorian woman looking sombre

Dr Annie McCall

Updated 1 March 2021

Dr Annie McCall, L.R.Q.C.P. (Ireland) and L.M., MD Berne (1859-1949), was born in Manchester and had an international education – Gottingen Germany, Paris, Berne and Vienna as well as the London School of Medicine for Women. She qualified in 1885 and was one of the first 50 women doctors. Her interests included midwifery and tuberculosis.

Annie McCall by Deneulain. Courtesy of the Wellcome Collection, London.

She was deeply concerned about the high death rate of mothers during childbirth and started a school of midwifery in her own home (165 Clapham Road) in 1885. In 1889 she opened the Clapham Maternity Hospital at 41 and 43 Jeffreys Road, Stockwell with antenatal and postnatal clinics and set high standards of hygiene and nursing care. The hospital had a Battersea branch at 31 and 33 Albert Bridge Road with a dispensary at 2 Albert Bridge Road.

Through her pioneering work in the fields of midwifery and childcare she achieved very low death rates among her patients. She was the vice chair of the London County Council Midwives Act Committee. The hospital she had founded was the first maternity hospital staffed entirely by women doctors and only women students were admitted. It was renamed the Annie McCall Maternity Hospital in 1936. Dr McCall retired in 1941 and died in 1949 but the main hospital building continued as an NHS maternity hospital until 1970.

Dr Annie McCall
Dr Annie McCall in later age.

For many years, the building and grounds were used as community artists’ studios. The site has now been redeveloped into flats, with a studio space for artists at the back.

The records of the Annie McCall Hospital are kept at the National Archives.

Listen to “Annie McCall, Maternity Trailblazer“, an episode of The Door Podcast: Vauxhall History editor Naomi Clifford in conversation with Professor Susan Bewley.