Brook: Archives

  • Brook; Brook Advisory Centres
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Although there are a few gaps in the record, this collection provides substantial documentation of the work of Brook since its foundation. Its core administrative activities are well-recorded, as are those of specialist committees, subcommittees and working groups. There is material on the various local and regional centres established after the first one in London. Press cuttings and other media reports document responses to Brook and its work, and to wider issues of sex, reproductive health and relationships, over a period of several decades of changing attitudes. There are also a number of files relating to particularly controversial episodes, such as the case of Dr Browne in Birmingham and the allegations made in the 1974 book Babies for Burning. A few files of Helen Brook's own papers can be found in SA/BRO/J/1. There are three boxes of photographs depicting individuals associated with Brook, the activities of centres, promotional events, and for publicity generally.

Audio and film material is also held at Wellcome Collection



Physical description

Catalogued: 94 boxes Uncatalogued: 21 boxes


A. Constitutional and Legal Matters, 1964-2008
B. Board, Annual General Meetings, and Council, 1964-2009
C. Board committees, subcommittees and groups, 1964-2011
D. Local Centres, 1967-2008
E. Publications, 1965-2010
F. Press and Media, 1966-2007
G. Finance, 1965-1998
H. Subject files, 1971-1983
J. History and memorabilia, 1958-2006
K. Photographs, c. 1960s-c.2000s

Acquisition note

These records were transferred by Brook in March and September 2012, and April and December 2013. The Dilys Cossey material (Acc 1313) was received among Dr John McEwan's papers (PP/MEW).

Biographical note

Brook is the UK’s leading provider of sexual health services and advice for young people under 25, providing fee and confidential sexual health information, contraception, pregnancy testing, advice and counselling, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and outreach and education work, reaching more than 290,000 young people every year.

It was founded by Helen Brook CBE (1907-1997). Marie Stopes died in 1958, leaving her clinic at Whitfield Street in London to the Eugenics Society, who invited Brook to run the clinic, where she began weekly evening sessions for unmarried women who could not be seen by Family Planning Association clinics under their terms of operation. In 1963, she began "secret" sessions specifically for young people, news of which broke in a storm of publicity later that year. The Marie Stopes board suggested that it would be advisable for her to found a separate centre, and in 1964 the first Brook Advisory Centre exclusively for young, unmarried people opened in London.

1966 Official opening of HQ at Walworth by Lord Brain; first branch centre set up in Birmingham
1967 NHS (Family Planning Act). Edinburgh, Bristol and Liverpool Centres open. Independent clinic in close contact with Brook opened in Cambridge
1968 Move to Tottenham Court Road. King's College sessions begin. Glasgow branch opens. BBC Radio 4 Week's Good Cause broadcast
1969 FPA agrees that as from 1970 advice for the unmarried must be available in their clinics. Public Relations drive directed at local authorities held in St Pancras Assembly Rooms. Brook clients reach 10,000 a year
1970 Coventry branch and centre in St Bartholomews Hospital open. Glasgow amalgamates with local FPA branch
Mar 1971 Dr Browne case (doctor informed parents of young woman that she had been prescribed the Pill by Birmingham Brook). Shift towards a more holistic approach with further counselling - Young People's Advisory Centres. Pregnancy Advisory Centres for young women seeking abortions. Visit of Lord Aberdare, Minister of State for the Department of Health and Social Security to the AGM 1971
1972 Passage of NHS Act re free contraception (from 1974). Cinema commercial. Local authorities restricting poster advertising
1974 Call for pill to go off prescription. Lady Brook retires as Chair, elected first President. Publication of Babies for Burning
1975 Teenage pregnancy rate starts to fall
1976 Introduction of post-coital treatment, and infection testing
1978 Education and Publications Unit set up. July conference "Accepting Adolescent Sexuality". Contributions from DHSS Central Office to work of Brook.
1979 Leeds Branch formed
1981 Apr conference "The Consequences of Teenage Sexual Activity". Attacks by the Responsible Society
1982 HEC advertising campaign targeting teenagers. Conference in Scotland "The Dilemmas of Teenage Sexuality"
1982 London Weekend Television public service advertisment suspended by Independent Broadcasting Authority
1983 Pill scare. Contraception for under-16s issues in the news. LWT film broadcast
1984 Appeal Court prohibits doctors from giving under-16s contraception without parental consent (Gillick case)
1985 House of Lords overturns Court of Appeal ruling on Gillick
1986 Ban on advertising contraceptives on TV lifted. Impact of AIDS crisis. North East Lancashire Centre opens
1989 25th Birthday Party: reception at the Martini Terrace with the Princess Royal, and party at Heaven nightclub; Milton Keynes Branch opens
1990 Visit by Virginia Bottomley, Minister of Health
1991 Feb Launch of 24-hour Brook Helpline. Fall in number of teenage pregnancies
1991 Visit of Tom Sackville, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State to the East Street Centre (Walworth). Fight to establish service in Belfast
1991 "Say Yes, Say No, Say Maybe, Learning to Love" leaflet. London centre for homeless young women. Purchase of the Walworth clinic premises from the FPA
1992 Belfast Brook opens, 10 Sep; Wirral Centre opens in December. Durex balloon campaign
1993 Salford, Shropshire; Cornwall centres open. 24 Mar conference "Seeking Help Too Late" Glazier's Hall. Annual Conference Nov 1993 on use of condoms
1994 30th Anniversary reception, Haberdasher's Hall, with Princess Royal; Blackburn, Jersey, Sandwell and West Pennine Centres open
1995 Aug Highland Branch (Inverness) incorporated. Annual conference, Purcell Room, "Contraceptive Services in the Year 2000" Helen Brook awarded CBE
1996 Manchester Branch opens; Shropshire closes
1997 Wigan and Leigh, Sandwell and Dudley centres open. Launch of schools resource "Infection Protection", MIZZ magazine photostory. Death of Helen Brook
1999 Conference "Don't Blame the Boys" . Freephone Helpline set up
2000 Launch of first website
2002 Confidential online enquiry service launched
2006 Stockton Centre opens
2007 Luton Centre opens

Related material

Materials donated by Brook to Wellcome Collection (books, pamphlets, journals)

The ¼" audio material is here,reference: 1871AM(cannot be requested, use digitised versions below)

The digitised audio material is here:
Part 1
Part 2

The film material is here:
references: 5214FM/5214F
(cannot be requested, use DVD reproduction below)

The video material is here (only the DVD can be requested):
references: 5214S/5214D

The digitised moving image material is here.

Terms of use

This collection has been partially catalogued and the catalogued part is available to library members. Some items have access restrictions which are explained in the item-level catalogue records. Requests to view uncatalogued material are considered on a case by case basis. Please contact for more details.

Accruals note

The following is an interim description of material that has been acquired since this collection was catalogued. This description may change when cataloguing takes place in future:

21 transfer boxes received October 2016 (acc. 2308), consisting of material from the Brook Publications Unit covering 1971-2011.

Permanent link


Accession number

  • 1893
  • 1929
  • 1984
  • 2041
  • 1313
  • 2308
  • 2471