Fonds BC1149 - Lady Buxton Centre Archive

Reference code



Lady Buxton Centre Archive


  • 1915-1985 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

71 boxes

Name of creator


Administrative history


The Lady Buxton Home first opened in Observatory in 1917. The guiding force was Miss Mabel Elliott, who was the Honorary Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Child Life, who had helped to establish Child Welfare Clinics throughout the Cape Peninsula. The Home was named after Lady Buxton because of her active interest in child welfare. An Emergency Home had been run by the Society since 1910. The purpose was to provide a temporary refuge for children when their parents were unable to care for them because of illness or poverty or owing to “destitution, neglect, or from some other cause”. It was soon clear that the Observatory premises were less than satisfactory and the Home moved from there in 1920 and occupied a number of temporary premises, including a cottage in the Alexandra Hospital complex until a property in Paradise Estate was donated to the Home in 1923 and a new home built there. Money was granted for the establishment of a Mothercraft Training Centre,and this opened in 1925, consisting of the Dietetic Hospital for Infants and a training centre for nurses wanting to specialise in mothercraft. These mothercraft graduates became known as Athlone nurses, because of the patronage of HRH, Princess Alice of Athlone. The training of nurses continued until 1975. The Dietetic Hospital was for babies up to a year old who were having feeding difficulties.There was also limited accommodation for mothers who were having difficulty in breastfeeding their babies. The Mothercraft League was started in 1927. This provided advice and support for mothers on the feeding and care of their babies. Advice was provided by letter to mothers as far away as neighbouring countries. In addition, advice was given at the Centre itself from the early days by the holding of Advisory Clinics. By the late 1920s the Claremont premises were already becoming inadequate when in 1928 the Struben family donated the adjacent house and grounds to the Society for the Protection of Child Life and the Harry and Mary Struben Memorial Home was opened. The Dietetic Hospital moved there from the Emergency Home. In 1936 the Mabel Elliott Hall and new nurses’ wing were opened. In 1939 the Buxton Nursery School was built and here the first training of pre-school teachers started in the Cape. In 1975 the training of Athlone nurses came to an end, mainly because of financial problems and the withdrawal of a Government subsidy for the training. The closing of the Dietetic Hospital followed. The Emergency Home continued, but has also since been closed. In 1976 the Centre opened its new nursery school and a day care centre was established to meet the needs of working mothers. Some of the property was sold to the Western Province Preparatory School in 1983 and an Educare Centre built. Today the Lady Buxton Centre consists of the Educare Centre and Clinic. The Educare Centre caters for children from 6 months to 6 years and consists of three units: the Baby Unit, the Day Care Unit and the Pre-Primary Unit.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Scope and content

The Collection consists of the administrative records of the Lady Buxton Centre from its founding until the 1980s. A large part of the collection consists of the minutes of the various committees that managed the different units of the Centre, as well as some financial records. There are also records of the children at the Emergency Home and Dietetic Hospital. The records of the nurses who received mothercraft training at the Centre are included in the Collection. The section of correspondence between the staff of the Mothercraft League and the mothers of South Africa and neighbouring countries is evidence of the support that the Centre provided to the welfare of children in the country as a whole. There are also photographs of children, staff and fundraising events. There are no restrictions on the use of the Collection, except that the names of children admitted to the Emergency Home may not be quoted.


System of arrangement

Conditions governing access

No restrictions apply except that the names of children admitted to the Emergency Home may not be quoted.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Alternative identifier(s)

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion



  • English



Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places