Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

A couple of Fridays ago when I was nattering away I mentioned the Repair Cafe I am part of in Kirkbymoorside. Andrea left me the following comment which really intrigued me.

“I was thrilled to see you mention Kirbymoorside. My grandmother used to work at the old children’s orthopaedic hospital there in the early 1930s – she was very proud of being ‘Matron’s maid’! She and my Grandad emigrated to New Zealand in the later 1950s – and here I am!
Is the hospital building still there?”

Now I have lived in the area and been a regular visitor all my life to Kirkbymoorside. My Dad had an office there, and my brother and I loved visiting him. He had a rather marvellous desk called a partners desk, whereby two people could sit either side of a desk with shared leg space underneath. It was a great game to hide there. Totally digressing here. The point is I had never heard of the hospital, and Kirkby as people usually call the town is small. Population between 3000 and 4000 people. Not big.

But I vaguely recalled seeing a booklet for sale on a children’s hospital.

Flurry of emails between myself and Andrea, some googling and an exchange of emails with the Kirkbymoorside history group, and bingo, I know exactly where the hospital site was. I was there just the week before at a rather interesting talk, on beggars in the 19 century and their appearances at the Quarter sessions.

This is the remains of the entrance to the Yorkshire Children’s Orthopaedic Hospital. Originally know as the Hospital for Crippled Children and later known as the Adela Shaw hospital.

I found the booklet for sale in a charity shop for Distressed Children in the Market Place.

Information Board at the Entrance Gates.

Adela Shaw had a privileged background, coming from and marrying into a wealthy family. But she put this to good use. Her first involvement with hospitals was near her home at Welburn Hall, a couple of miles from Kirkby, and the creation of a cottage hospital on land nearby. It is now been changed into two semi-detached houses, but is clearly recognisable. Dad always told me it was a fever hospital. He was nearly correct. It was used for people recovering from surgical procedures not infectious illnesses. He had it the wrong way round.

Adela Shaw was then instrumental in creating a hospital for injured soldiers in the First World War in Kirkby itself.

In 1924 an urgent need was identified to treat children who suffered from surgical TB, rickets and Polio.  These children could with the right care and treatment could be helped to lead full and independent adult lives. The idea was to provide medical and education on one site.

The wooden huts used for the injured soldiers were no longer needed, there was the perfect site. So you can now imagine lots of fund-raising, building , hiring of staff etc etc.

This clubhouse/hall formerly the British Legion Hall is sited on the old Ward 4 building. Gardens have been created on some of the site.

And housing on the rest of the site.

Andrea’s Grandmother joined a small group of girls coming from Hetton -le -Hole, Sunderland.( Not to be confused with the nearby village of Hutton-le-Hole, which I did for a bit, silly me). Now Sunderland is quite a distance from Kirkby, and I wonder why and how this came about? Andrea’s Gran Ethel was just 14 and only permitted by her parents to leave home because she was with a group of older girls.

I was thrilled when I found mention of a Tilly Anderson in the booklet, coming from Hetton-le Hole in 1926 as a nurse , one of those first employed in the hospital. She met and married a local chap called Frank Simpson. Tilly will have known Ethel.

The committee minute books are available to be seen at the County Records office. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Ethel had a mention?

You can read a bit more for yourself if you like here or see for yourself in this video. The gentleman speaking is  a former patient from the 1960s, but the pictures on the video date from the 1920s onwards.

His account is very moving I thought.

I want to thank Andrea for first of all commenting on my blog and pointing me towards a fascinating part of local history. It would take five minutes to walk from the hospital to my Dad’s office. How can I not have known? Secondly to thank her for giving me permission to share her Grandmother’s memories.

I thoroughly enjoyed doing this bit of research , blogging is amazing isn’t it, you just don’t know what might turn up next.



Comments on: "The Old Children’s Orthopaedic Hospital- Kirkbymoorside" (34)

  1. What a fascinating post Cathy. Yes, blogging is a truly amazing thing which can lead you down all sorts of paths you never expected 😊

  2. What a fascinating piece of local history – I’m sure she was thrilled that your research turned up all this information. Now to watch the video.

  3. What an interesting read! Don’t you just love these buildings (or remains of them) that had another life? Even empty and unused, they have their own personalities … they echo with the life they used to know, and still seem to breathe, if you know what I mean. Researching their history is so compelling, isn’t it?

    • Oh yes I know just what you mean. Were I braver I would certainly try a bit of urban exploration!

      • Hi Cathy,

        I enjoyed reading about this piece of history and watching the video.

        In your post you refer to the creation of a cottage hospital on land nearby, that still exists today and has been turned into two semi detached houses.
        I am curious – is this building what is now known as Howkeld Bungalows?

  4. Hi Cathy! I loved reading your post and learning about the childrens hospital. And the video was great too. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Tamara

  5. Very interesting about the Moors. I don’t know why but I pictured them cold and damp. Somewhere you’d get a chest cold! That was my imagination! My Gran had me go outside everyday for fresh air, even when it was below zero! Ever since I was a baby. Can’t say it helped, I had chronic pneumonia and bronchitis. But I know it is good in theory.

    • Your Gran had clearly been influenced by her time at the hospital. Acording to the booklet the chidren were outside for a lot of the time. The sunshine should have helped with the rickets. In the 50s, all young babies were wrapped up warm and snuggled into big prams and had two hours in the garden in all weathers. It was accepted practice! I spent a lot of time outside as a child!

  6. Your Gran sounds an amazing lady! This hospital only took children who could improve, not the most severe cases. The site was chosen for its bracing air coming down from the Moors.The children spent a lot of time outside being braced by the air! A lot to be said for very litlle traffic. i love history too.

  7. Absolutely fascinating!
    My Scottish Gran owned a little corner grocery store a block from a Children’s hospital here in the U.S. She made everyone who stopped in the store, (much to their unhappiness) donate to it regularly! LOL! Then she’s get a write up in the paper for collecting a few hundred dollars for the hospital! She never took me there. And I have to say I was a bit afraid, because she befriended some of the boys as adults. Their parents had abandoned them. Those adults scared me. She volunteered there at their parties too. It was started for severe cases of polio. (had several Iron Lungs) By 1970 it had moved down town to the large metropolitan area, Grandma was living elsewhere retired. Now my adopted children with disabilities go there for care. Its a 80 mile drive. And we don’t care for the new location- too much traffic.
    I love history!

  8. Blogging rules! This is one more example of the delights of being part of this community!

  9. You obviously missed your vocation as a researcher or a detective – unless of course that was your vocation at one time. You obviously have great fun digging around in the past and it shows – thanks for sharing.

    • No I never had a job as a researcher, that would have been lovely. I love doing my own family history , and digging around looking for information is great, just like being in a detective story.

      • Do you have Netflix? There is a fascinating documentary series called ‘The Keepers’ which involved two women ‘of a certain age’ who started to investigate the unsolved murder of one of the nuns who was a popular teacher at their old school. They then uncovered a whole hornets nest of other crimes and scandals.

  10. I love the connections we make from blogging. And what a fascinating piece of local history to come across, via New Zealand of all places.

  11. Our Nana would have been chuffed that someone took the time to research her past. She told Andrea and I many stories about her youth when we were little, and that is a fascinating piece. Thank you for letting us get a sense of place- and introducing me to an excellent knitting blog in the bargain!

    • Hello Karen, so good to hear from you. I am happy to have helped bring some of your Nana’s stories to life for you and your family. It has been my absolute pleasure. I not only found the research interesting, but the story of the hospital fascinating too.

  12. Just fascinating, Cathy! You have such a knack for telling history, it really is a gift.

  13. That was fascinating Cathy! Listening to the man speak about his time there was also very interesting. He spoke so positively of his time there, which is not something we usually hear of such institutions. It’s an intriguing thing how one can be so close to, but not know about the relatively recent history of our surrounds. Good on Andrea for sending you off on this bit of sleuthing!

    • Thank you. I was impressed with the video too. He did sound so positive didn’t he. I am still surprised I didn’tknow of the hospital. I was actually quite old when it closed, but no longer lived in the area when it did. I am glad you found the story interesting.

  14. I am so grateful to you, Cathy, for your research on my part. Who would have thought that following a lovely knitting blog would have had this result? My Nana would have loved to see her story shared. I’ll pass this blog onto my father and the rest of my family here in New Zealand and I’m sure they’ll join me in thanking you as much as I do. You’re a knitting and genealogical treasure! Thank you! XXX

    • You are very very welcome, and thank you for giving me this experience, which I loved. BTW my step brother now lives in New Zealand with his family! I hope your family enjoys finding out where their Nana worked.

  15. Murtagh's Meadow said:

    Fascinating to discover a bit of local history like that 🙂

  16. What a wonderful discovery! It’s always fascinating to know more about the people who used to live in the places we now call home, and what used to go on in the buildings!

    • It was a wonderful excursion into the past. Totally fascinating,and wonderful to have a connection with someone whose Grandmother was part of it.

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