61 Marlborough Road was where the birth control pioneer Marie Stopes opened her first clinic a little over a century ago. And so it has a place - an important place - in medical, social and feminist history.
Marie Stopes is most famous for Married Love published in 1918 - which was a sex manual and a guide to a good marriage and included advocacy of birth control. The book was a huge success. A few months later, she opened her first clinic - the Mothers' Clinic - in part influenced by a similar endeavour in New York undertaken by Margaret Sanger.
The clinic was run by midwives, with some support from doctors. It was free and open to all married women and offered birth control advice and dispensed cervical caps.
In 1921 the clinic moved from Holloway to near Tottenham Court Road, so this building's pioneering role in women's control of their own fertility was brief - but important all the same as Britain's first family planning clinic.
Stopes's reputation is under a cloud because of her advocacy of eugenics and a biographer, June Rose, has argued that Stopes was 'an elitist, an idealist, interested in creating a society in which only the best and beautiful should survive', and that - at least in part - explains her interest in birth control.
I only came across the place and the plaque because I was cycling around as part of my pandemic 'keep fit' regime - there really is a world out there!
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