Saturday, 23 August 2014

From Jane Freeland
About Fred's puzzlement over placing the photos, I posted a comment on 17/02 but didn't moderate it. 
It may be that these photos come from an earlier period, when MH Hospital was called the MH "Home". I think you can find details in the history contributions to this blog, further down the site. The link to it is:;postID=3042484852758245676

Michael Reeves who was a patient from 1962-64

Googling on iPad, the day before going into hospital to be assessed for hip replacement, Michael found the blog and rang Jane. What follows is based on our phone conversation, on 31 July, 2014, and an email Michael sent after I’d sent him my written version of what he said, with the photo. 

Michael was a patient in Marguerite Hepton Hospital from 1962-1964, with Perthes disease, first of all on Ward 3 (which was mixed, and had a babies’ section at one end, and later in Ward 4, the Boys’ ward.  He was under the care of ‘Professor’ Clarke. 

He mainly has good memories of his time there. “I remember the Gala days. One year four of us boys went as the Beatles in the fancy dress competition. The nurses helped us to make cardboard guitars – I think we won the prize. 

But the highlight of my stay at Marguerite was meeting Billy Fury when he visited Ward 3. Here’s a photo, from the Wetherby Post, that was taken when Billy saw the toy gun in my hand, and came to my bedside to show me how to twirl it like a proper cowboy.  Marty Wilde also came during my time there, but this was the special one.” 

 Wetherby Post photo of Mike with Billy Fury

 Like many other children with Perthes disease, Michael left hospital in callipers. But "when I first came out I wanted to go back again, it all felt so strange. But I soon got used to being at home again, with my younger brother and two sisters – my older sister used to come with my parents on visits.
The first year and a half of school were at Potter Newton. I remember the dark blue school bus, called "Samuel Legard", that came to round picking up children on the school run. 

The callipers came off after a year, and I remember how, without them, I was suddenly much smaller than most other boys in my year.”

His hips functioned pretty well until Michael was 42: “I played football for 22 years with no trouble at all. Then, I had a fall and my hips started to hurt really badly, so I went along to the hospital. They did X-rays, but they seemed to think it was nothing – told me to take Paracetamol and work through it. Then a couple of days later they phoned back to say they'd had a closer look at the X-rays and they needed to see me again. After an MIT scan, it turned out that my hips had both crumbled and needed replacing. What a relief – I thought it might be bone cancer! Both hips were replaced successfully, though one is now due for review after 17 years.” 

Michael remembers quite a few fellow patients, Josh Ward, Stephen and Lawrence Hill, Stephen Wood, Michael Delving, Barbara Cotton, Colleen Martin, Martin Procter, Staff Nurse Hanson, Nurse Boothe, Nurse Stewart and her sister Male Nurse Mr Appleyard, Sister Gough, Sister Ireland. More recently, he met a couple of them in Middleton.

Mike let me know later that the hip won't need replacing yet.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Margaret's Puzzling Photos

Because I couldn't place the locations of the photos below I asked Harry Dodgson for his opinion. Harry was a patient in 1937, see here, for his story. This is the reply he gave me.

Hi Fred
The pictures you sent puzzle me. I recall being in MHMH in 1937 in the small  boys ward and later in the big boys ward, and I don't recall them being anything like the pictures. I have some memory of being in Leeds Infirmary in 1935/36 and although those memories are somewhat faint, I was three at the time, and the cuttings seem to ring a faint bell. Frankly the wards in the cuttings look like a cots on a balcony, which they had in Leeds Infirmary at the time. I do remember them.

The caption on one of the photos in question is "To make a Merry Christmas at The Marguerite Home of the Leeds Invalid Children's Aid Society at Thorp Arch: Nurses decorating a ward." This adds to the mystery to some extent because I haven't of heard of the hospital being addressed in quite this way before.

So were the photos taken at MHH or a nearby "Home" or even at Leeds Infirmary? Unless someone out there knows different then of course we must go with Margaret's information. Can you clarify this for us?

As an aside Harry Dodgson now lives in Australia and is busily writing. His first novel "The Rainbow Serpent" is available via Amazon

From Jane Freeland (17th February, but added again 23 August 214!!)
Could it be that the problem about the name is that, before it became the MH Hospital, the place used to be a "Home". See the history of the hospital, various installments further down. 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Margaret Molyneux's Photographs

Margaret has offered us some scanned images showing her mother decorating wards on 24th December 1936

The one above shows a girl dressed in a skirt and other children in the beds and therefore suggests it was taken in the Girls ward. The nurse marked by a cross in both pictures is Margaret's mum, Jean Elizabeth Wright.

Here the cots suggest the decorations are being put up in the babies ward. However my memories of the wards I was a patient in leave something of a puzzle. I remember flat ceilings and wider room width and Jane has no memory of these locations either. Both of the above pictures show sloping beams and narrow rooms so where were they taken? The only sloping beamed roof I remember was the canopied area outside the big boys ward where we often spent our days and nights. Any offer of help in locating where these were taken would be gratefully appreciated.

 This last one has a reference to a "News" photographer and from this I assume that all three images, cuttings from newsprint, were taken for the Yorkshire Evening News. It looks as if Margaret's mum Jean has allocated numbers to record the names of those in the picture but that information is no longer available. As Christmas day in 1936 was a Friday I assume this was taken  on Wednesday the 23rd December. 

Our thanks go to Margaret for providing these Newspaper cuttings, I wonder if anyone out there has anything similar they would like to share with us.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Patricia Senior (nee Tasker) recalls her 1959 hospital stay

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so they say.  My stay in a children’s orthopaedic hospital certainly proved to be very character forming.

It was in 1959, very soon after sitting my Eleven Plus exam, that I was admitted to Leeds General Infirmary for ‘investigations’.  I had been diagnosed with Stills Disease, a form of rheumatoid arthritis that affects both children and also adults, as a baby.  I had been getting progressively unwell and struggling with very stiff and painful knee joints every morning, and after school.  They told me I would be in hospital for a few days. They lied! After taking some kind of sample from my right knee whilst I was under a full anaesthetic in Leeds General Infirmary for a few days, they then dispatched me to the Marguerite Hepton  Orthopaedic Hospital  for children where I was to be an inmate for almost a whole year.  When I was finally discharged I was able to join my friends at Roundhay High School in the September  as we all began the second year.

I recently found that this blog exists, which has contributions from various people who were patients and staff at the hospital from the opening  in 1910 to its closure in 1985.  The most recent contribution on the blog at the time of my writing is by Susan Lee  who was a patient there twice in the 50s and I too recall singing the same song.

Seeing this brought back  a few more long forgotten memories as during my time on the girls ward a couple of years later we too used to sing this same song.  Many of the things mentioned in other people’s posts also were familiar to me, despite the fact that many recount experiences from an earlier decade!
I remember feeling quite betrayed when they took me off to Thorpe Arch, but I don’t remember arriving there and settling in.  It must have been quite horrible though.  We were only allowed visitors on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  I was probably more fortunate than many since my parents had a car and could visit more easily than those who had to travel by bus.  But my dad worked at M&S and so I doubt they came Saturdays.  I was under the care of Mr Clarke and I remember groups of suited men descending and making  rounds of their patients once a week.  I had my right leg up in traction by then and was well and truly tethered to my bed.  The doctors used to put their hands on my knees to feel for inflammatory heat.  This continued for several months until one day they decided that the right knee had improved, and it was released from traction, but that same day they strung up the other leg!  I was almost suicidal for a while.

Other people have written more technically about the procedures and types of splints etc used in those days.  I believe the bed with its overhead frame to which my splinted leg was attached by means of weights and pulleys was called a Balkan Beam.  All I know was that when the nurses weren’t looking I would sometimes haul myself upright with my arms and stand for a short while on the leg that wasn’t held straight in the splint contraption.  The very worst thing though, as someone else mentioned, was when they changed the long strips of elastoplast which ran down either side of the leg from top of the thigh to the ankle.  Getting this elastoplast off was excruciatingly painful.  Others have written about the regular rubbing down with methylated spirits we received to prevent bedsores;  I’d completely forgotten this routine until reading their accounts.

I remember there was some kind of bathroom at the top end of the ward where we were taken and bathed occasionally.  I hated it as we used to be placed on a table prior to being bathed and this put us level with some kind of window out onto the ward.  As a young teenager I was very embarrassed by the lack of privacy.  The beds on the girls ward were arranged so that the youngest, babies and toddlers I think, were at the bathroom and office end whilst the oldest girls, of which I was one, were housed at the furthest end.  The entire length of the ward had opening French windows on one side, and my bed was on that side.  And against the very bottom end wall stood an old upright piano, which I don’t recall anyone ever playing.  Above it was a small wall-mounted television, but again I don’t remember watching it.  Much of the time we were outdoors, wheeled on our beds through the French windows onto the ‘veranda’ outside.  In retrospect it was more like a patio, but I doubt that word existed back then.  We spent most days out there, in all weathers.  How we survived the onslaught of fresh air I don’t know.  We had our meals out there, and our lessons.  I quite enjoyed the schoolwork, and did a lot of drawing and painting and other crafts, sometimes for entering into competitions.
I still have a copy of the 50th Anniversary booklet that was produced in 1960.

This picture taken from an earlier post shows the Girls Ward, the one I was on.

When our families visited they would wheel us around the grounds in our beds. Here is a photo of me with some of my relatives one visiting day.

This was the only time we got to see the boys, which created quite a bit of excitement for us older girls.  We sometimes got pushed as far as the field where there stood an old gypsy type caravan.  And there were rabbits in hutches in another part of the grounds.  Many of my aunts worked at Terrys and Rowntrees in York so they would bring lots of ‘waste’ sweets for me but all these had to be handed in and we were allowed to choose stuff when it was given back to us in moderation during a daily sweet round.  This was a sensible way to avoid problems as keeping our weights within healthy bounds as bedridden but growing children must have been a priority.  I was on cortisone medication so I swelled up quite a bit during my time there as a side effect of the drug, something not ideal for when I eventually had to learn to walk again!   I think I enjoyed most of the food, with the exception of the Allbran which we were forced to eat most morning for breakfast.  Just the thought of it even today still makes me retch!  But no doubt they had to keep our immobile young bodies ‘regular’ and I recall this was a major pre-occupation.  Sister used to advise my mother to bring in Pontefract Cakes to feed to me, and they always did the trick!
The song I quoted at the beginning uses the words, “that’s the way we family down Thorpe Arch way”, and this is very apt in my opinion.  Some of us were there for several months, which was long enough, but others had spent years in hospital.  We were a family.  We didn’t have much but we did have each other, and some friendships were very strong and therapeutic.  My closest friend was called Janet.  I think she had spent seven or eight years of her life in and out of hospital.  She had brittle bone disease.  When new girls came in we used to warn them not to let their bedcovers trail onto the floor or the spiders and cockroaches would climb up during the night.  Fortunately none of us relaised at the time that cockroaches can fly!  We were only aware of them scuttling about on the floor in the dark.  You could catch a glimpse of them by our or the nurses torchlights, and you could hear the occasional one crunch under a nurse’s foot as they did their nightime rounds to check that we were all asleep.  It was during the hours of darkness that I would catch glimpses of a little field mouse that seemed to inhabit the piano as he was often to be seen sitting on one of the piano’s feet.  Daytimes too provided us with opportunities to appreciate local wildlife, usually birds, which were frequent visitors around our beds.  Insects too played a regular part of our daily outdoor lives.  I read in one of the posts on the blog about someone finding a dead wasp inside there plaster cast when it was cut off.  My memorable wasp experience was more direct, one day I sat on one!

We used to plan all kinds of mischief.  Prior to April Fools Day we devised a complex charade which involved me pretending to have fallen of the bed (maybe I was no longer attached to the frame by this point?) onto the floor with blood coming from my leg.  I don’t remember whether or not we actually carried it out but some time , probably after that date, there was a terrible accident in the night which was quite frightening.  One of the nurses somehow walked or fell through a glass door further back in the building and was badly injured.  There was a lot of noise and commotion.  I think she was ok in the end.  Other frightening or exciting events were when prisoners or inmates from the adjacent open prison and remand home went awol and teams of prison officers and police would go past our French windows in the night with torches searching for the escapees.
Despite the fact that I spent my 12th birthday and Christmas 1959  in the hospital I remember little of any celebrations for either, although I’m sure there must have been some.  I think my right leg was up in traction for about six months, then my left one for another three or more.  After that I was learning to walk for quite a while so that my time as a  patient there stretched to almost a full year.  I don’t have any record of my actual dates of admission and discharge.
I mentioned the existence of boys earlier.  They were accomodated on a different ward but we did see them at weekends when our visitors took us out in our beds.   We girls used to be quite interested and pester the nurses for information as to the different boys names and ages.  Most of the nurses were very young themselves and happily went along with our curiosities, to the extent that they would act as go- betweens carrying ‘love’ letters.  I still have some of these and intend to add them to this post when I can finally locate there whereabouts!
There is a post on the blog made in 2008 from a Malcolm Benson who was a nine year old patient during the same time I was there.  He is able to recall the names of some of the staff which he quoted, and thanks to him,  I am delighted now to be able to recognise and remember the names of the following three  nurses Woodhead, Huddleston and Rennie.
At some point they set me free from my bed and then I had to relearn to walk.  I don’t remember getting much specialist help on the ward, but as soon as any of us became vaguely mobile there was stuff to do.  We had to pick up dropped items for our fellow patients, and fetch and carry a few things, I don’t remember the details.  The best thing was though that I got sent by ambulance once a week to Harrogate Spa Baths for hydrotherapy.  This was the highlight of my life.  The ride there and back in the ambulance represented freedom from school and confinement, and my mother met me at the baths and spent a few hours with me before and after treatment.  The pool itself was bliss, and instead of being put in the sling, if I was lucky the hydrotherapist, who was a lovely young man, lifted me in and out of the water.  After my treatment and exercises the attendants wrapped me in lovely warm towels and left me to rest for twenty minutes tucked up on a bed in a little cubicle.  Then I joined my mum, who pushed me in a wheelchair into the cafe where we had coffee and cakes and were entertained by the palm court orchestra which played in the cafe in the centre of the lovely old building, before I was eventually returned to my ambulance and transported back to Thorpe Arch.  It was a lovely day out.
Learning to walk again though was hard, and when I eventually went home I was only just able to manage, but I was able to finally begin high school in September of 1960, after missing the entire first year of secondary education.  It was a bit tricky fitting in as a latecomer but I picked up everything well, except French, which I hated and never felt happy trying to speak.  I was back, just in time to participate in the Swinging Sixties.  Just three years and a couple of months  later I was backstage at an Arts Ball in Bradford talking to the Rolling Stones, but that’s a whole other story……

To read more of Trish's interesting and challenging story visit her blog here.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Susan Lee's Thorp Arch Experiences

My name is Susan Lee (formerly Susan Keeler) and I was in Marguerite Hepton Hospital at Thorp Arch in 1955 (aged 9 years) and again in 1957 (aged 11 years) following admission to St. James’s Hospital for hip problems.
I remember that on my admission  in 1955 a girl called Barbara who had TB of the spine and two years later when I was there again, Barbara was still there!  I could not believe that someone was in hospital all that time.
I also remember a song we all used to sing which was as follows:
There is a happy land far far away
Where we get jam and bread 3 times a day
Egg and bacon we don’t see
We get sawdust in our tea
That’s the way we family
Down Thorp Arch way
Some folks say it’s a very nice place
But I don’t think that’s true
As long as you’re a walking girl
You’ll have lots of things to do!
You’ll be up and down the ward
With a bedpan in your arms
.......................................can’t remember this bit!
Singing Mummy, Daddy take me home
From this orthopaedic home
I’ve been here a year or two
And now I want to be with you
I’ll say goodbye all the Doctors
Goodbye all the Nurses
Goodbye all the Sisters
And the jolly old Matron too!
There may be more to this song but unfortunately I can’t remember them.  Does anyone else remember this song?
I also remember the lack of visiting times.  I only saw my parents on a Saturday and Sunday and I know it was difficult for them to get to Thorp Arch as we had no transport and they had to rely on public transport.  My sister who is 4 years younger than me could not visit as you had to be over 12 years to visit someone in hospital then.  Can you imagine this happening now?
I also remember the sweets that visitors brought us were all kept away and dished out daily after lunch, but I’m sure the nurses ate more than the patients did.
I cannot remember the names of any of the staff but I know that my consultant was a Mr. J.M.  Fitton who was based at St. James’s Hospital.
I remember all the patients being wheeled out on to the veranda on fine days and also being taught lessons.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Remembering learning to read - from Jane

Barry, thank you so much for these vivid memories. It seems that we were at Thorp Arch pretty much during the same period, though in those days the boys and girls rarely if ever met. Your memory of learning to read certainly stirred up a similar one I had - who knows we might have been having the same feeling of revelation at the same time! It seemed quite sudden and miraculous - one moment I was puzzling over some words on the back of a comic being read by the patient opposite me (whose name I can't remember), and the next, they said 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarves', as clearly as if someone was speaking them to me.

Do please send us more memories as they occur to you - and that goes for everyone else, of course

Memories from Barry Meadley, who was a patient 1944-1947/48, with TB of the left knee.

My name is Barry Meadley and I was a patient at MH 1944-1947/48.
Having just discovered your website and read all the blogs from former fellow patients, their recollections evoked so many memories. I was diagnosed with TB in my left knee in 1944 and spent a couple of weeks in Leeds General Infirmary then was transferred to Ida hospital at Cookridge, after a couple of months, moving on to MH. I marvel at the memories of some of my contemporaries who can still remember so many names and
incidents with such clarity !

I have no recollection of any names, but can recall some things that are etched in my memory for life. I am pleased to say that 99% of my memories are pleasant and grateful ones. That marvellous moment when you realise you can read and understand without stumbling over the words opened a wide world to a bed bound child, and I could never thank that wonderfully kind and patient lady teacher who enabled me to enter this world enough, Enid Blyton's Sunny Stories spring to mind !

I had my first eyetest at 6 yrs. old, was found to be short sighted, when I got my specs. I remembered being amazed to be able to make out the faces of the kids on the other side of the ward.

I remember a magician coming to give a show, all the beds were pushed together.I was close to the magician and as he pulled a large white rabbit out of a top hat, a photographer from the Yorkshire Evening News took a picture of me reaching out for it. I had a copy of this for years, but it was lost in a house move much to my regret.

It was great when the local hunt would visit on horseback complete with foxhounds. the dogs were so friendly and fussy and I remember one memorable occasion when they got overexcited ran through the ward, matron was not amused! There was one nurse who painted pictures of the huntsmen on old earthenware jamjars she was very talented.

It's funny but you only think that those summers were warm and sunny. being outside in only a splashcloth watching those who could be up splashing around the inflatable rubber dinghy filled with water, kindly loaned by the RAF I believe.

Everyone seems to remember sleeping on the veranda, and that includes me, it does'nt seem to have done any of us any harm. I remember if you were unlucky and were covered by an open weave type cover it was not uncommon to wake up next morning, a bat with it's claws tangled in your bedding! A lot of the nurses shied away from releasing them!!

So much more springs to mind, the Rugby teams visiting after playing at York,conkers from the trees in the drive, playing with the rugby ball bladder in the big boys ward, learning to walk again to name just a few.

Earlier in my story I mentioned that 99% of my memories were pleasant ones, now to the 1% nasty! My hips, left leg and foot were in plaster for the duration of my time at MH, and as I grew, had to be renewed at regular intervals over the years. Unfortunately, now and again, the replacement was left a little late and the cast had become a little tighter than it should have been, which always resulted in what was for a small boy, a very painful and terrifying experience, of course at the time the electric cutting wheel instrument of today did not exist. The plaster cutters of the day resembled the chain and padlock cutters of today, instruments of torture!! I still bear the scars today on my leg and hips, where the plaster cutters took the flesh along with the plaster.

This is the only bad memory I have of my time in MH, I'm sure there must have been others, but at 73 yrs. old, they have faded away long ago. Apart from the obvious dedication of the staff, who will always have my undying gratitude, all my life I have been blessed with infinite patience, this I attribute to my early life spent in MH when we all lived and learned in a cocooned world of our own. Thank you all for stirring up so many memories.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Ann Shaw (co-author of "Children of Craig y Nos"

Thank you Dorothy for sharing this very brave account of your life.

It reflects so many stories that happened in Craig-y-nos too.
Ann Shaw
(co-author "Children of Craig-y-nos"

27 October 2011 21:42