It was dubbed the "sex on the rates clinic" but, on its 40th anniversary, the founder of the Brook centre in Birmingham, Martin Cole, tells Health Reporter Emma Brady why he felt the need to set up the facility
In 21st century Britain, sex is everywhere. On billboards, cinema screens and in magazines for all to see.
Daytime television devotes hours to the problems of promiscuous teens on the rampage in Corfu or Cornwall, with the biggest fear being of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/Aids or chlamydia.
And gymslip pregnancies - which would have been hidden or secretly aborted in the 1960s and 1970s - are seen by some as a badge of honour, a way to get a flat or house.
Children, not even teenagers, now become headline news as girls as young as 12 parade their newborns, proud to be Britain's youngest mother.
Was this what Martin Cole's critics feared when he first mooted the idea of setting up a sex clinic in August 1965?
His reasons for wanting to open the first Brook centre outside London - which would offer contraception, counselling and advice to "unmarrieds" - was simple. Before Brook was established, it was illegal for unmarried couples to get contraception in Britain.
"Firstly the need to stem the tide of illegitimate births," said Mr Cole, a doctor in philosophy, at the time.
"Secondly to produce a society that will allow young people to enjoy sexual experience free of feelings of guilt and free of fear of disease."
He came to Birmingham from Nigeria, where he had been a genetics lecturer at Ibadan University, to work at B irmingham College of Advanced Technology, now Aston University.
Mr Cole, now aged 74, found himself being repeatedly asked by his students for advice on sexual health issues.
"When I came to Brum, Britain was on the cusp of the sexual revolution," he said.
"The university didn't have a medical officer so students would come to me, I suppose because I was in biology, with their problems because there was nowhere else for them to go."
David Steel's Private Member's Bill to legalise abortion became law when the Abortion Act was passed in 1967, but this did not prevent "back street abortionists" exploiting young, unmarried women in crisis. Against this backdrop of sexual curiosity and promiscuity, the moral majority continued to rally against the idea of the Brook Clinic, claiming it would encourage "fornication without tears".
"I was pilloried for wanting to set up the Brook in Birmingham," added Mr Cole.
"But people kept phoning the Family Planning Association's clinic, which was already open but didn't see unmarrieds, and that's when they realised there was a real need for this facility."
Before it opened, unmarried couples would pretend to be engaged, but FPA workers would calculate when the woman should start her pill based on when the couple were due to marry, or they would be given "dummy diaphragms" with holes in to practise with - only getting an intact device on the eve of their wedding.
Initially Brook in Birmingham shared the FPA's premises in Frederick Road, Edgbaston, but moved to new premises in York Road, Edgbaston, by April 1967. By 1991 Brook had four centres in Birmingham, which have since been merged onto its current site, in John Bright Street.
Mr Cole said: "It was dubbed 'sex on the rates' clinic, because the local authority would be providing some funding for it.
"Back then pregnancy was a girl's biggest worry, and I think that's still the case today because - with the exception of HIV/Aids - everything else is 'curable'. We're trying to defeat Mother Nature because as long as there's sex drive there will always be 'accidents', even in the most well-informed sections of society.
"Even now people think we are encouraging sexual behaviour but the Brook would've happened sooner or later, as the need was so great."