Our history

The Manor Gardens Welfare Trust has had a long and productive history serving the residents of North Islington since 1913.

We were founded as The North Islington Infant Welfare Centre and School for Mothers to provide an urgent need for free healthcare for children and education for mothers. At that time over 1 in 10 children died before their first birthday in Islington. Mothers living in extreme poverty didn't know how best to feed and care for their babies so Manor Gardens helped them learn what foods to give them and carried out essential health checks.

Promoting health and wellbeing has been at the heart of the services we provide ever since. We remained independent when the NHS was created in 1948, allowing us to adjust our work quickly to focus on need.

Our founder was Florence Keen, a Highgate resident who was committed to public service and had a wide circle of influential and wealthy friends. Together they raised funds to buy the buildings we still own today and persuaded Elizabeth the Queen Mother to be our Patron till she died. The healthcare they made possible saved the lives of many children.

We're very proud of our history and on our centenary in 2013 we received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to pull together our fascinating archive of photos and artefacts to preserve if for the future. You can read more about it on our special Heritage site.

Visit our Exhibition

100 Years of Community Healthcare: from Infant Welfare to Community Wellbeing

As part of our centenary project we created an exhibition of our photographs and archives which can now be viewed my members of the public. It gives a playful and informative insight into our unique organisation, looking at how our attitudes to children, health and voluntary work have changed over the last century. It explores our pioneering approach to community healthcare including:

  • teaching mothers on baby wards
  • sunlight treatment
  • exercise classes
  • more recently, the provision of community mental health and wellbeing services

Volunteers curated the exhibition, which draws on Manor Gardens’ extensive archive, including over 500 photographs, and an oral history project of people involved with the centre. 


Learning skills and playing together in the playgarden, 1964.

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Find out more about Manor Gardens Welfare Trust