The Methodist Home for Babies and Unmarried Mothers opened in 1937 at 46 Wattle Street, Brighton, now known as Hove. It was run by the Methodist Church and provided accommodation for single girls who were pregnant and girls who had recently given birth to their first child. It also gave shelter to orphaned children, those deemed to be neglected and children whose parents were unable to care for them due to ill health or other reasons.
The beginning of this Home dates back to 1935 and the work of Kate Cocks who was the first female police officer in South Australia. Shortly after her resignation from the Women Police in 1935, a distressed unmarried mother with a newborn baby was sent to her home in Castle Street, Parkside, by fellow police officer. Miss Cocks, who had also worked as a probation officer for the Children's Welfare and Public Relief Department, gave the woman temporary accommodation. Over the ensuing weeks more women and babies in similar need joined her. Concerned about the lack of shelter and support for these women, Miss Cocks approached the Methodist Women's Association and suggested the establishment of a Home.
In 1936 the Church Women's Welfare Department was formed with Kate Cocks as its first superintendent. The same year the Home Mission department of the Methodist Church purchased a property at Brighton known as Old Oxford House. From 1910-1934 the building had been a training college for young Methodist men and then briefly, from 1934-1936, a home for the elderly. In 1937 it opened as the Methodist Home for Babies and Unmarried Mothers.
The first matron to assist Miss Cocks in running the new Home was Sister Ruth Barrett. Kate Cocks continued to care for girls and their babies without pay for 15 years. Initially pregnant women from the Methodist Home for Babies and Unmarried Mothers were sent to the Queen's Home for the birth of their child. After 12 days they returned. This practice continued after 1939 when the Queen's Home became known as the Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital.
Fundraising efforts by church members as well as a number of bequests to the Babies' Home enabled the Home to be extended in 1947 and later an enclosed playground was added. In 1951, a bequest financed the building of the Wyld Maternity Home, which became a part of the premises.
When Kate Cocks died in 1954 the Home was renamed the Kate Cocks Memorial Babies Home in her honour.
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06 January 2023
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/sa/SE01222
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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