Radiator, 42 Phoenix Rd

Object: Radiator, window and Matron sign, Margaret’s Day Nursery, 42 Phoenix Road

These items indicate the bare bones of the story of how some of Somers Town’s youngest children were cared for in the early twentieth century. Also known as the Margaret Club and Day Nursery, it first opened in 1918 at 44 Ampthill Square where it provided day care for 20 children.

Although the replacement of Somers Town’s slums provided improved housing, poverty was still experienced by many families. For the children who attended the Margaret Day Nursery, life was particularly hard as many of  its children came from households where there was no father.  The major part of the nursery’s intake was kept for the illegitimate children of the unmarried and those whose mothers were widowed or deserted.

After the move to 42 Phoenix Road in 1931, the Nursery was able to care for 60 children, increasing to 100 in the difficult years just prior to the Second World War.

Margaret Day Nursery was run and funded by a Voluntary Committee and from 1920 with a grant from the Borough Council and the Ministry of Health.

Care for other under-fives was available in three other local Day Nurseries, Nursery Schools and specialist services, such as the St Pancras School for Mothers in Chalton Street.

By Jane Read