School a possibility for maternity home

In the ongoing issue of the Maternity Home and Child Welfare scheme that had raised controversy over the future use of Wardown House, a committee report to a meeting of Luton Town Council on April 1st, 1919, said Messrs J. Cumberland & Sons had promised to give certain particulars in relation to St Dominic's School in time for the next meeting of the committee.

The Luton News (Thursday, April 3rd, 1919) reported that having again considered the offer of the Norton Works for the purpose, the committee had reaffirmed a decision on March 15th, in which they expressed the opinion that those premises were entirely unsuitable for the purpose suggested.

Committee Chairman Councillor Primett said the letter with reference to St Dominic's would be considered at the next meeting of the committee. With regard to Norton Works, he submitted that no Local Government Board inspector would pass the building as suitable for the proposed institute. In addition, repairs would cost about £350, and some rooms would require the ceilings raised to give them adequate height for institutional purposes, involving a further expenditure for alterations of £300 to £500. A further disadvantage was that the place was too large for one part of the scheme and not large enough for the whole scheme.

As to acquiring other premises, Councillor Primett said they were at present restricted by regulations to taking a lease, but that was a war emergency provision, so the proper course would be to acquire property on lease with the option of purchase when the present restriction was removed.

Some members, he continued, might be wondering what he had to say with reference to Wardown.

The V.A.D. Were leaving on May 14th. It was known to some of them at the last meeting of the Council that this was as long as the hospital would be required, but they were misunderstood and charged with all sorts of sins of omission and commission, with cruelty and other things.

The position with regard to the committee's scheme was now somewhat altered, and he hoped no member of the committee would feel he was disloyal in making this statement. A statement had been made in the Press, however, and as he might be asked how the committee's scheme would be affected, he might as well deal with it at once.

Why he strongly supported going to Wardown in the first instance was because it was a tentative measure. He knew he would be charged with saying that once they went to Wardown no one would vote for turning them out, but he did not mean 'Once at Wardown, always at Wardown,' because he knew of certain developments which were probable at the Children's Home, London Road.

That was a scheme, however, that had to be kept quiet for the time being, and it was knocked on the head when the war came. But it was because he knew of this scheme, and of the probability that in the future one half of the work the committee had to undertake might be carried in at the Children's Home, that he favoured going to Wardown as a tentative measure.

He considered it a great mistake to multiply institutions unnecessarily, and there was no such suitable site for an institution as was necessary for one part of the committee's work as an extended Children's Home, either subsidised by the Council or carrying on this particular work through a joint committee.

Stating that he had been examining the trust deeds of that institution, Councillor Primett said it was provided that if the terms of the trust could not be carried out the place reverted to the Corporation, and, subject to the views of the Trustees, the Corporation had a very free hand for any work they wished to undertake for the young life of Luton, excepting dealing with cases of an infectious or contagious character.

There was a condition that no children under three years of age were to be received other than in exceptional cases, but that could probably be overcome. He did not know who drew up the trust deeds, but they were well drawn in the interests of the town. In some cases trusts were so tied up that it was impossible to expand, or do anything new, but these deeds were drawn on very liberal lines, and he was sure they could join hands when the proper time came.

Alderman Williams seconded the adoption of the report.