Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Extract from Gerald Appleyard's book "Walton-in-Ainsty"

The following is an extract from Gerald Appleyard's book “Walton – in – Ainsty” and is reproduced with grateful thanks from the Marguerite Hepton Hospital Bloggers.

Mr Arthur FL Hepton Founder and Miss ME Downs Matron from September 1938

Between Walton and Thorp Arch was a pleasant country house owned by Mr Arthur FL Hepton, a Leeds and Harrogate businessman. Prior to its opening as a hospital for children on 16th April 1910 Mr Hepton’s daughter had a long illness. After her recovery, he gave the house and grounds to the Leeds Invalid Childrens Aid Society, in gratefulness for her complete recovery. A gesture which provided the inspiration for one of the districts prettiest hospital.
Marguerite Hepton later became its hospital secretary for many years and lived into her 90s at Harrogate.

Hydrotherapy pool 1981. Miss Patricia Sykes is in attendance

The hospital, with magnificent support from many societies in Leeds, and local groups of people, created funds for its development into an 80 bedded orthopaedic hospital. It had an operating, x-ray department,physiotherapy and hydrotherapy units, plus a small chapel where many babies were christened. The Leeds education department provided schooling for the long stay patients with a head teacher for each of the four wards.

The hospital was born in a spirit of thanksgiving. In one of her reports during the 1914-18 war Marguerite Hepton wrote “It is felt so important, this work requires more than patriotism or sense of public duty to make it successful. There must be a real love for the children themselves. True patience in dealing with them, and a fixed determination to let no consideration come before that of their true interest and progress.”

The hospital expanded and a further gift by Mr Hepton of £5000 in memory of his only son, who was killed two days before the end of the First World War allowed more development to take place, but in the 1920s the hospital incurred a debt of £3000. This was cleared in 1927, led by Mrs Enid Lane Fox of Walton and a great number of helpers who raised funds. The period between the wars saw many developments and the hospital went from strength to strength.
A new wing was built, known as the Riley Smith Wing by the brewery owners at Tadcaster.

The majority of children during this time suffered Tuberculosis of the bone. Later correction of limbs due to the devastating results of Poliomyelitis were operated on by Professor Clark. Some of the children were hospitalised for up to two years.

Gerry Appleyard 1985. Standing where the German bomb was dropped in 1942

During the 1939-45 war a munitions factory was built in front of the hospital which resulted in Wards 3 and 4 being built to get children under a more substantially protected building. The year 1940 and 42 saw bombs dropped on the munitions factory, in 1942, two German bombs were dropped one on the road in front and one behind the nurses home narrowly missing the buildings. Between these two bombs were 80 children and staff. At the close of the munitions factory at the end of the war, £1131 was raised for the hospital funds.

Charles and Diana wedding celebration 29/7/1981 (children no longer patients)

In 1980 all children were kept at St. James Hospital in Leeds and adult Orthopaedic cases were sent to Thorp Arch from Leeds General Infirmary and St. James Hospital until its closure as a hospital on September 16th 1985. It then became a private nursing home.

Billy Bremnar signing Plaster casts, Gerry Appleyard is at his side 13/7/1968
Many celebrities visited the Hospital during its 75 years. Princess Anne visited the children on May 11th 1972. Thorp Arch school children formed a guard of honour waving flags along the drive.

Gerald Appleyard was the hospital's last nursing officer.

Reply from Jane - we're all doing the history!

Hello Margaret,
This is the beginning of the history you wanted to see - and now you're part of it! I have a feeling you have a lot more to add.

Margaret Vicars, nee Rhodes remembers strict disiplinarians

I was in Marguerite Memorial Hosp. at Thorpe Arch from 1941 to 1944. I am also in touch with a friend who was in at the same time. Matron Downs was a very strict disciplinarian and some of the nurses could be very hard and two of them whose names I can remember were cruel, considering we were helpless children. I have photographs of the hospital and some of the patients. Felicity Lane Fox was the secretary when I was there and I have the letter to my parents telling them to come and take me home in Sept. 1944. I am disappointed to find there is no history of the hospital on the internet that I can find.
Margaret Vicars, nee Rhodes