Monday, 10 March 2008

#003 Bretby Hall

At this time I was attending a new clinic in Waverley Street. As my feet did not improve it was suggested to send me to Bretby Hall Orthopaedic Hospital, this had recently opened (1929), and my mother and I left by train, again from Sawley Junction. Just before entering Derby Station I was rewarded with the amazing sight of several steam engines. This was the start of my life long love of steam.

Next stop was Burton where we were again met by an ambulance. Bretby is about thee miles along the Ashby Road, at the gatehouse or lodge you turn left, then along a long drive to arrive at Bretby Hall. I then went through the usual rigmarole of goodbyes then a bath and so to the ward. As the children's ward was full, I was put in to Ward 5, which at that time was for 15 year olds upwards. I was 7, I seemed to get along OK with the rest of the patients, most of whom where suffering from TB which was quite prevalent at that time. Quite a few were on ‘tip up’ beds i.e. a fracture board was reared up at 45 degrees. Tied to the top of the high bed rail, the TB. infected leg was attached to a leg weight to try and straighten it, others with TB spines where on a Spiker that necessitated years in this prone position, the lads on 'tip up' beds were also there many years.

Visitors were only allowed once a fortnight and they had to walk the mile from the lodge gate because the bus did not come up the drive. A contest was therefore arranged, first prize being awarded for the relatives who were leaders through the gate to the hospital. All food brought was shared equally with all other patents, this worked well due to some patients having no visitors at all. I was there for bonfire night 1929, we all bought fireworks and these were pooled and ‘up patients’ were in charge of the display. Things seem to be going well until Wheetcroft, who had TB glands and so could walk about and help the nurses, dropped a lighted match in the whole box. Rockets were going in all directions, jumping jacks were all over the place ‑ it was the best firework display we had ever seen, it lasted fully five minutes. “Light another like that” everyone shouted, but that was the lot, the pooled fireworks of six wards had gone off in one foul swoop. Wheetcroft never lived that episode down.


Unknown said...

hi, your post made me cry and smile at the same time, my grandad, george patrick mcquillan, was born march 17th 1921 and i believe he had polio, 1 of his legs was shorter and he wore a big boot. Family history is not good in our family but the mention of Bretby Hall is known. I did my school work experience there in 1990 when i was 15, all my love, jackie xx

Roy Brocklehurst said...

I was sent to Bretby Hall in 1944 at the age of 6. I had a TB gland in my neck and it was planned that this would be removed.
I travelled by train to Derby, fell and broke my nose on the cobbled entrance, was then taken by ambulance to Bretby.
D Day prevented completion of my treatment. My parents got a telegram from a Government department on June 4th which said they must collect me the following day. My father arrived in working gear (overalls, hob-nailed boots, etc), wrapped me in a blanket and carried me to the cab of his Bedford lorry (complete with 5 tons of lime on the back). The TB must have been cured as I never went back.

Anonymous said...

It was 1960, I was six years old when i went to Bretby Hospital I was sent to recover from Rheumatic Fever Chorea while my mum was in hospital and could not look after me. I was not allowed home until she came out of hospital. I was there for 3 months and was a sad time for me.
My journey was from Derby Children,s hospital by ambulance I remember an aeroplane come zooming so low I thought it was going to hit us. I remember the staff being very kind but very strict. I only saw my Mum once and my Dad a few times as it was so far from home. I do remember my Sunday School teachers visiting me and giving me a bible which I have today. My brothers and sisters could not come onto the ward, they spoke to me through a door near my bed. I also had my Photo taken for the Derby Evening Telegraph, but I have never been able to find this.
One of the exciting things was when we went to see the shows, we would be taken down in our beds so if we fell asleep we would be wheeled back. But the best was the day I had a letter from my mum to say I could go home, I ran round telling everyone and missed my breakfast.
Heather Potter Derby

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