Our history

In 1978, the pioneering work of Mr Patrick Steptoe and Professor Robert Edwards achieved its ultimate success – Louise Brown, the first baby to be born as a result of IVF treatment.

This was hailed as a miracle, but also attracted criticism from all over the world including politicians and religious leaders. It’s now hard to imagine how controversial this was at the time.

Steptoe and Edwards persevered against the odds and followed their dreams to set up the world’s first IVF clinic at Bourn Hall in 1980. Since then there have been millions of ‘miracle births’ worldwide as a result of the work of our pioneers and because they shared their discoveries with doctors and scientists across the globe.

2010 saw the ultimate recognition of their work in the award to Robert Edwards of the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

IVF is no longer such a controversial or taboo subject but it is still a deeply personal matter for people experiencing infertility who need special care and understanding. This is still at the heart of our ethos today which ever Bourn Hall clinic you choose.

In 2022 Wellcome Collection’s archivists spent a week at Bourn Hall, Cambridge to catalogue and preserve much of our archive material. This is still being worked on by the collection archives team, but you can see the summary of the online catalogue: https://wellcomecollection.org/works/vx4n6ndf

The papers of Sir Robert Edwards, which include records relating to the establishment and activities of Bourn Hall Clinic, are held at Churchill Archives Centre. The papers of Lesley Brown, the first mother to conceive by IVF, are held at Bristol Archives.

Several current members of Bourn Hall staff, including several of the senior management team, worked with Steptoe and Edwards in those early days. Our collective experience and expertise – as well as the skills and dedication of all of our healthcare professionals – will help guide you on your journey towards parenthood.