Belfast’s first maternity hospital was established in 1794 due to the efforts of a small group of philanthropists.
They opened in a house rented to them by the Belfast Charitable Society at 25 Donegall Street.
The aim of the hospital was to aid labouring ‘indigent females’ by providing accommodation, food and medical supervision during childbirth
Rev. John Clark, curate of St. Anne’s Belfast, and Mrs Martha McTier, the wife of Samuel McTier and sister of Dr William Drennan, have been attributed as the founders of this institution.
The hospital was funded by subscribers and donations.
In 1830, a new hospital, ‘a commodious building’, was built ‘at the upper-end of Donegall Street’.
It was run by a committee of ‘Ladies’ for much of its time. Martha McTier was elected as the first Secretary ‘to her surprise’.
The committee hired only three employees to work in the hospital overseeing its daily operations. These people were a housekeeper, midwife, and a maidservant. Three doctors, Dr Robert Stephenson, Dr McCluney and Dr Thompson, provided their services to the hospital but seem.
To gain admission, patients were required to produce a ticket that could only be distributed by committee members to subscribers who donated five shillings or more. These subscribers could recommend patients to attend. In 1832, a ruling was made that only married women could be admitted to the hospital which probably excluded many women who were the most in need of its services.
The hospital remained on this site until 1903 when a new facility opened in Townsend Street, west Belfast.