Children at Betts Street Day Nursery, 1974 Copyright © Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Children at Betts Street Day Nursery, 1974 Copyright © Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives


Holding the Baby is an oral history of childcare and parenting, a podcast series and a travelling, sound-based exhibition.

We asked people from London's East End to reflect upon the care they received as children and gave as parents, carers and childcare workers. Their answers tell personal and emotional stories, relevant to the experiences of parents today.

The stories let us peek into the untold worlds of housework and home, to learn how the devastating impact of higher infant morality rates resonated through the generations, the effects on children called to be 'little mums' to their younger siblings, and what people really felt about living with and among their extended families, using childcare and dealing with relationship breakdown. 

We collected an oral history archive containing 22 people’s memories. The full interviews can be found at Bishopsgate Institute in London.

Holding the Baby is an On the Record project, kindly funded by Gilda Street Trust in the memory of historian and author, Gilda O’Neill. 


Audio and website produced by Rosa Schling.

Exhibition design by Fuzzy Duck.

Portraits shot on medium format (film) by Sophie Polyviou.

Original music by Luke Christie.

Special thanks to all the people who contributed their memories in oral history interviews: Andrew Lane, Brenda Crew, Eva Turner, Hanson Bosompem, Janice Geeves, Jean Lane, Joe Newman, John Newman, Joyce Gillman, Judith Marchant, Kathy Taylor, Kevin Jenkins, Lily Bateman, Lorna Phillips, Mahendra Francis, Margaret Peck, Maureen Waite, Norah Parkin, Robert Rogers, Shafiq Ahmad, Shirley Peters, Sylvia Clarke.

Thank you to Gilda Street Trust; Vivian Archer and Newham Bookshop; Deborah Peck and Newham Libraries; Stefan Dickers and Bishopsgate Institute; Newham Archives and Local Studies Library and Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives for photographs, Bea Moyes for research and Susan Nicholls for transcription.