Friday, November 30, 2007

Brecon and Radnor Express - November 29 2007

Roy Harry today with his portrait of himself after he left Craig-y-nos

This is an extract from the story in this week’s Brecon & Radnor Express of the Children of Craig-y-nos exhibition which opened last week in Brecon Library.

Dr Carole Reeves Outreach Historian with The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, said:
“Craig-y-nos Castle was open for almost 40 years from 1922- 1959 and at its fullest held 136 beds, with thousands of patients admitted over the years.

Carole explained.
“There were a lot of TB sanatoriums, about 1,000 in the UK, but this is quiet a special one because it was mostly children -it’s really touched a nerve.

“It’s a bit sad - we've heard some terrible stories, children being tied to the bed so they got bed rest, infants growing up there and seeing their parents just once a year, people forced to have abortions because they had TB. But people try and remember the good things,” she added.

Mary Watkins, who travelled to the exhibition from her home in Hereford, said:” We enjoyed it - we went there to get better. We were all like one family.”

Many children died while at Craig-y-nos but apparently the patients “didn’t dwell on it - you never really knew if they’d died or not.”

66 year old Roy Harry shared his vivid memory of being left there for the first time.
“I’ll never forget being left there. I screamed as my mother left me - it was awful. I kept following her , running down the corridor.”
He added:
“Children would become attached to the nurses. There was a baby ward, some would grow up there. You did hear of people not recognising their own parents, having to be introduced to them by the nurses.”

Ann and Rosemary today and (inset) together in Craig-y-nos
Rosemary Davies, who now lives in Lansteffan, added:
“ Visitors were only allowed once a month and then only for two hours.”

No-one really knew how to treat TB and it was thought bed rest and plenty of fresh air was the best treatment. As a result of this, children slept outside on large balconies even in winter.

67 year old Rosemary, the middle child of 11 siblings, recalled:
“ Some mornings there’s be four inches of snow on the end of your bed! “they thought the fresh air would cure you.”

Rosemary added:
“When I left and went back to my family the only difficulty was sleeping indoors. I was used to sleeping outside on the balcony, and couldn't get enough fresh air in the room, so I used to sleep in the barn!”

( The exhibition will run until early in the New Year).

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