Spotlight on the Archive: The Wolfson School of Nursing photo and cuttings album

Black & white photo of nurses in uniform

This month’s spotlight is on a mini archive mystery. Amongst the archives of the College of Nursing and Midwifery is a set of photos and documents from the Wolfson School of Nursing. Opened in 1960 and funded by The Wolfson Trust, the Wolfson School of Nursing was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1961.

Black & white photo of the Queen Mother meeting a line-up of nurses in a ward.

The Queen Mother meeting nurses at the School, 1961

The album contains images of the opening ceremony, including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Sir Isaac Wolfson and his wife Edith Wolfson. Also available to view are letters and newspaper cuttings about the opening.

Hand-written letter

A letter of thanks sent to Mrs Wolfson from a lady in waiting on behalf of The Queen Mother


“My dear Matron,

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother bids me thank you for your very kind letter. It gave Her Majesty great pleasure to open the school of Nursing. I am to tell you that Queen Elizabeth was delighted with the buildings which must be a joy to you & to your teaching staff as well as providing such ideal surroundings for the students. Your nurses looked charming, made the very best impression by their friendliness and good manners.
May I add also that I enjoyed my visit immensely and met many old friends.

Yours sincerely

Olivia Mulholland


Situated in Vincent Square, Westminster London, the Wolfson School of Nursing actually formed part of Westminster Hospital. The School was closed in 1992 and relocated in 1993 to its present site at the former St Stephen’s Hospital in Fulham Road as the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Westminster, it has to be said, is a little distance from Ealing, so the question remains; what was the connection between the Wolfson School and what is now our College of Nursing and Midwifery?

Items in the Archive from Wolfson School of Nursing

If you are interested in researching into this or are interested in viewing the collections available to consult within UWL archives (or perhaps you can shed some light on this mystery?) head to

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron and his wife, Anne Isabella (Annabella) Milbanke or Lady Wentworth (commonly known as Lady Byron).

Lovelace was a pioneer of computer science, an English Mathematician and writer who became friends with Charles Babbage, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge.  Ada is known for her work on Babbage’s designs for a mechanical general-purpose computer, known as the ‘analytical engine’. Lovelace was the first to recognise that the machine had uses beyond calculation or number crunching and published the first computer program. She is often regarded as the first computer programmer over 100 years before modern computers were even created. Lovelace’s educational talents brought her into contact with scientists such as Andrew Crosse, Sir David Brewster, Charles Wheatstone, Michael Faraday, and the author Charles Dickens. Ada’s privileged social standing and liberal parents enabled her to be educated in subjects usually reserved for men of her era. Lovelace taught at the Ealing Grove Industrial School founded by Lady Byron; the first of its kind for under-privileged children.

Ada married William King in 1835. King was made Earl of Lovelace in 1838 and Ada become Countess of Lovelace. They had three children. Ada died at the age of 36 – the same age at which her father had died – in 1852, from cancer of the womb. Since her death Lovelace has received many posthumous accolades for her work.

The second Tuesday of October marks Ada Lovelace day in recognition of her groundbreaking contribution to computer technology.



Ada Lovelace day: we should never forget the first computer programmer


Lady Byron’s education legacy in Ealing

Anne Isabella (Annabella) Noel Byron (1792 – 1860) commonly known as Lady Byron, was the wife of infamous romantic poet Lord Byron. She was intellectually gifted in mathematics and verse. Lady Byron founded the Ealing Grove School within the site now occupied by the University of West London (UWL). The site also accommodated the Byron House School from 1860.  Lady Byron’s work in the education of the working classes is commemorated by a blue plaque on the exterior wall of the main entrance to UWL on St Mary’s Road.

The marriage of Lord and Lady Byron lasted approximately one year and ended soon after the birth of their child Augusta Ada Byron (Ada Lovelace, mathematician who worked alongside Charles Babbage, the pioneer of computer science). In January 1816 Annabella left Lord Byron, after considering him to be insane due to his many excesses which included huge debts and numerous love affairs.

Lady Byron lived in Ealing from 1822 to 1840, residing at Fordhook House and Hanger Hill House. Lady Byron was committed to social and political causes, such as prison reform and the abolition of slavery. Ealing was traditionally a thriving market-garden economy with this being the main employment of its working population. After the Napoleonic blockade of Britain was lifted in 1815, British agriculture was hit by the return of foreign competition and Corn Laws which combined to make the youth of Ealing unemployed with no means of education or training.

Education was of huge concern for Lady Byron and by 1834, after noticing ‘delinquent youths’ in the local area, Annabella established the Ealing Grove School, an industrial school which provided academic lessons as well as training in day gardening. This was not a popular move due to opposition expressed at the time to the idea of any kind of education for the working classes. Lady Byron paid the fees of some the boys who attended. The headmaster was Mr C.N. Atlee who fully accepted Lady Byron’s plans for running the school without the use of corporal punishment, a move that horrified some sections of the local community.

Ealing Grove School enabled poor and orphaned children to avoid the New Poor Law of 1834 under which they would have had to enter the Union Workhouse, where they would have found themselves in prison-like buildings, alongside vagrants and the mentally ill. In the 1850s judicial industrial schools for young offenders were introduced, so similar named schools became synonymous with ‘penal institution’.  As a result, in 1852 Lady Byron closed Ealing Grove School. Mr Atlee opened Byron House School in The Park in 1859, which was shortly before Lady Byron died of Breast Cancer in 1860. Atlee’s son Charles continued running the school from 1866 until 1886, when it was acquired by Dr. B. Brucesmith who in 1896 renamed it Ealing Grammar school which was eventually closed in 1917. In 1929 Ealing Technical Institute and School of Art and Crafts was opened on the site, later renamed as Ealing Technical Institute and School of Art from 1937. This was one of the predecessor institutions of the University of West London as we know it today. Lady Byron’s name lives on within UWL today with a wing of the Ealing campus named in her honour.




Lady Byron, Ada Lovelace, and Ealing

Mirli Books, Education Ealing I: How Lady Byron Did it

British History Online – Ealing and Brentford: Education


UWL Archives

UWL Archives contains historical collections relating to the history of UWL as well as the Heathrow Archive.

The archive is based on the third floor of the Paul Hamlyn library at the Ealing Campus. Visits are arranged by appointment only, please contact the archivist in advance using the contact details on our web page: