Sorrento was a large house built on Wake Green Road by William Adams; it was named after his favourite resort in Italy where he spent his honeymoon. In 1911 he opened it as an institution for the poor and needy. It was put up for sale during the Great War and Neville Chamberlain bought it in 1916 as a home for disabled soldiers mainly paraplegics.
It was taken over by Birmingham City in 1929 as a maternity home for women on low income, and by 1931 it consisted of 20 beds with an experimental premature baby unit. The Premature Baby Unit was set up by Dr Mary Crosse, who received the OBE in 1948 for her work with the unit; it continued to be a world famous centre until the hospital closed in 1993. The hospital was also known for its successful Milk Bank, where nursing mothers donated breast milk for the use of others. The hospital became part of the NHS in 1948, and developed into a maternity hospital with 80 beds and up to 2500 deliveries a year. This was achieved over time by the purchase of several Victorian houses in Wake Green Road and Anderton Park Road, the only purpose built buildings being the premature baby unit, the boiler house, and a delivery and theatre suite. Sorrento became a centre of excellence, with an enviable record of research and teaching at all grades, much loved by staff and patients alike it closed in March 1993, and is now housing.
Ironically the motto on the Adams family coat of arms was “Nil Absque Labore” Nothing without Labour (thanks to Nursesue).
I was born at Sorrento Hospital in July 1948, and worked there in the 1980’s.