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Article from the Chronicle and Echo 9 December 1970 transcribed by Raylee Burton

Health centre  -  where Council Chief once lived

Albert Morby, Chairman of Burton Latimer Urban Council
A.A Morby - Chairman of Burton Latimer Urban District Council

Burton Latimer’s new £31,000 health clinic has been officially opened – by the man whose first home in the town 24 years ago was on exactly the same High Street location.

Mr. Albert A. Morby, chairman of Burton Latimer Urban Council, and County Councillor, moved, when married, from Wellingborough in 1946, to one of a row of cottages knocked down to make way for the health centre project.

And as one of the main guests yesterday he said he was witnessing a “truly red letter day” for his adopted town.

Its establishment marked the end of a five year struggle to obtain the centre.  “I think there was nothing more greatly needed in Burton Latimer.”

The Urban Council had pressed for a health centre since 1965 and were without success in their claim that such amenity was necessary.

Yet when Mr. G. J. Roberts, chairman of the County Health Committee and his fellow committee members took up the cause in 1966, “the tide had turned in our favour,” said Mr. Morby.


A report was prepared by the County Medical Officer of Health and despite a year lost when the Government imposed capital expenditure restriction the go-ahead for the project was given late last year, he added.

“Now under one roof we have all the necessary services and ideal conditions with which we can happily relieve pressure on hospitals.”

Proposing a vote of thanks, Chairman of the Northamptonshire County Council, Alderman Mrs. Dora Oxenham paid tribute to the Urban Council for making the site available and to the general practitioners of the area for their co-operation.

Other guests included Dr. W. J. McQuillan, the county medical officer of health, Mr. T. R. Easton clerk to the Northamptonshire Health Executive Council and Mr. R. W. Gash, deputy clerk to the County Council.

The new centre now provides the main surgeries of the group practice although the branch surgery at Finedon remains.

Services covered by the centre include child welfare and clinics, hearing assessment, health education and ante-natal relaxation classes for expectant mothers.

At a later date, says Dr. McQuillan, family planning clinics, speech therapy, hearing sessions and possibly chiropody, will be added.

The centre was finally opened on 8th December 1970, with the local GP's having transferred their surgeries into the new premises on 30th November.

The site is approximately 0.82 acres and previously contained housing. The centre is built towards the northen end and occupies an area of approximately 0.36 acres, the remainder of the site is to be used for a new branch library and fire station. A narrow unmade road, Pigotts Lane, leading from the High Street adjacent to the site of the health centre and as a consequence of the building work has now been widened, surfaced and provided with footpaths. This also provides access to the car park for health centre and proposed library.

The centre itself has been planned around a multi-purpose central area, which serves as a waiting area, but can be split by a sliding screen to offer additional space for health education talks.There are three consulting rooms each with their own seperate examination room. There is also a treatment room with its own waiting area.

The reception serves both the entrance hall and the waiting area, enabling reception staff to call patients through to the consulting rooms. There is also additional offices for health visitors and district nurses and also a communal staff area allowing staff to meet in an informal atmosphere.

The final cost of the centre was £31,2145 - with an additional sum of £4,000 for furniture and equipment. The general contractors were Simcock & Usher Ltd of Northampton, with the turfing and planting carried out by the County Playing Field maintenance Unit.

The project was designed in the office of the County Architect, Mr John Goff F.R.I.B.A, the executive architects being Mr D.E. Cowley, Deputy County Architect, Dip Arch (Birm), A.R.I.B.A and Mr D.W. Jones, A.R.I.B.A.


The idea for a health centre had been proposed since 1966, and after two years of abortive attempts the idea was shelved. However in February 1968 the finance became available. The first phase of the development was to demolish the properties that occupied the site. (For more information on the history of these buildings click here).

Demolition of the houses along the High Street begins - 1969

But even as work commenced, there were still misgivings. In February 1969, the Kettering Evening Telegraph reported on a Northamptonshire County Councils meeting, where Mrs Mitford-Barberton had complained of the cost of both the Burton Latimer centre and a similar scheme in Towcester. She said: "When the health centres were first mooted the estimated cost was £12,000 to £15,000 each. Now they will cost £34,000 each and personally I think the cost will up again before they are completed. I cannot see that if we are going to spend this amount of money on each centre we are going to build as many as we need and want".

Mrs Mitford-Barberton also felt it was unnecessary to build to such expensive standards as the Minstry of Health specifications; "We cannot afford the upkeep of them," she said and particularly complained that £34,000 was a tremendous amount of money to spend on a centre for three general practitioners in Burton Latimer.

Replying, Mr G.J. Roberts, chairman of the Health Committee said: "I admit that they certainly don't look cheap, but there is little we can do about it."

Over the years, the Health Centre proved its worth. With the town quickly growing, the centre became an essential facility within Burton. Even with the surgery relocated to a new premises, the old building is still playing a role within the community, housing the town council, Burton Latimer Heritage Society and a number of other organisations and clubs.

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