Campaign to save East End’s historic maternity home Mother Levy’s

A letter-writing campaign to save a historic hospital building which pioneered home help in the 19th century has been launched by a local historian.

Tom Ridge wants to preserve Whitechapel’s former Bearstead maternity home, the East End’s first Jewish hospital which sent helpers out to mothers in their homes in the 1890s, from demolition.

Supporters turned up to launch the campaign outside the building in Underwood Road, once known to East Enders as Mother Levy’s after one of its first matrons and Mr Ridge is urging supporters to and write to the Peabody Trust pleading to preserve the building.

He said: “We’ve tried to get Mother Levy’s listed, but have been told it’s not architecturally interesting enough.”

Peabody bought the site from Tower Hamlets council earlier this year and is to put in a planning application for a new low cost housing complex. Campaigners want the trust to preserve the front of the building.

Mark Taylor told the Advertiser: “These historic places can never come back once they’ve gone and the East End loses links with its social past.”

Jewish East End Celebration Society chairman Clive Bettington said: “Many famous people were born here like Arnold Wesker, Lionel Bart and Alma Cogan, while Hannah Billing, known as the Angel of Cable Street for her work among the poor in the 1930s, also worked in Mother Levy’s.”

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Peabody Trust has not finalised plans for the building and says it is still listening to the community, following a one-day public consultation in July and another planned before its application goes in to the council next month.

A spokesman said: “We understand this is a sensitive site. We’re working with the community in developing this project.”