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.