Spalding’s first children’s nursery in 1916

Childcare 21st century style.
Childcare 21st century style.

Spalding was following in the footsteps of Holbeach and Long Sutton in opening a children’s nursery in 1916.

The opening of Spalding Day Nursery was said to mark “another step forward in a movement which is being followed with a good deal of interest”.

The report said the movement in Spalding was fortunate in having “an enthusiastic supporter” in Dr Ramsay Munro, the Medical Officer of Health, who had apparently “spared no effort to promote its success”.

The nursery also had the support of Lady Kesteven, who performed the opening ceremony and “gave it an auspicious start”.

The report said: “The object is a patriotic one, in that it not only aims at caring for the children whilst their mothers are at work on the farms; but it also has in view the better protection of infant life, an urgent necessity much to the front today.”

Spalding Day Nursery had space for a matron, staff and 30 children.

A garden fete was held at Ayscoughfee to raise money to meet some of the cost of setting up the nursery.

Dr Munro gave an opening speech in which he said the nursery had come about as a result of a conversation between the matron of the Johnson Hospital and the vicar of Spalding, who between them persuaded him to get involved.

Dr Munro said it was a matter of national importance “that the welfare of the infants should be safeguarded”. He said children had not always had the chances they should have and by “getting them into condition” early in life, the committee hoped to make them better men and women. He said the committee had no intention of relieving parents of their children, but some mothers must go out to work.

Dr and Mrs Walker, the heads of the Holbeach Day Nursery, judged the baby competition at the fete.