Monday, 10 March 2008

#002 Coleshill Hospital

Meanwhile I was still attending the Cripples Guild - halfway up the hill on Oxford Street, Nottingham. It was an adventure then to go by Bartons red buses to Nottingham, the route took us by Chilwell Ordnance Depot. I was intrigued to see all the railway wagons had W.D. on the side (i.e., War Department) and after seeing these every week I asked where the P.D, ie. Peace Department wagons were. Ah, the innocence of childhood -. After several visits to the Cripples Guild it was decided to fit me with knee length callipers and so I was sent to Coleshill Hospital. This entailed a journey by train which was quite an adventure for me, I remember going to Sawley Junction station for the train, we had to change at Derby which necessitated going over the footbridge. As I couldn't walk well they allowed us to go on an underground lift, which was another adventure as I was given a ride on a new type electric trolley.

We eventually arrived at Coleshill Station where we were met by an ambulance, which took us to the hospital. Goodbyes were said to my mother and grandmother very tearfully as I remember. Then into a big bath where I was scrubbed with carbolic soap, coming out of the bath red as a beetroot and then put to bed. This hospital was run by nuns (its still there and is still run by nuns), there were several other patients in the ward, all older than me ‑ I was five at this time ‑ they told me that the ward was haunted and at night a ghost would appear. Sure enough after lights, out a ghostly white figure appeared, I was scared out of my wits and shot under the bed clothes to find out much later the next day that the figure was the night sister wearing a white habit and doing her rounds. I don't remember my operations but remember the two ‘knee length’ plaster casts that were put on. We had school lessons in hospital but after six months ‑ on my return to Sawley Road School ‑ I was well behind and it took me a year to catch up.

1929 saw me in the big school, Form One. Mrs Thompson was the teacher; she was very good for me as I finished 3rd in the class and top in the August exams. However, after the school holidays I was again in hospital but just prior to this dad had supplied me with a brand new Standard K bicycle. I was able to use this as transport to and from school, all other pupils had to walk, my brother Ernie was at school by now and I, on one particular day picked him up for a ride home on my bike crossbar. All went well until passing Wyvern Avenue, a dog ran out at us snapping at our legs, we swerved to miss the dog whereupon my brother put his foot in the front wheel and over the top we went, our heads where badly cut and bruised. The next day we were brought before the whole school assembly and severely reprimanded by the headmaster Mr Gerald Oldam, and I was forbidden to give any more joy rides.

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