Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Staff at Craig-y-nos

This final photo is by no means definitive of the staff at Craig-y-nos because it was taken a couple of years after it closed as a TB sanatorium and became a geriatric hospital.

However, most stayed on because the hospital provided the major source of employment in the Upper Swansea Valley.

Nurse Glenys Davies

Some familiar faces are missing, notably Nurse Glenys Davies. Other names, familiar to those of us there in the 50’s are missing such as nursing auxiliary “Auntie Maggie”, Alfie Repado the Spanish gardener, and Langford the porter. Maybe they were no longer employed there or they were simply not available on the day the photograph was taken.

"Auntie Maggie" Mrs Williams, nursing auxiliary

The biggest surprise to most ex-patients who view the staff photograph is the sheer number of people working at Craig-y-nos.

We remember a “skeletal nursing staff” and the 1,000 photos confirm this memory with the same doctors, nurses, auxiliaries, domestic and gardening staff re-appearing again and again in childrens photos.

We never saw this “army behind the scenes”. The reason, of course, is that because of the fear of infection children were never allowed to mix with other wards or to move around the hospital except in designated areas such as to the theatre.

Each ward operated as a tight-knit little community with its own ward sister and staff. To this day I still don’t know whether nurses, auxiliaries and domestics rotated around different wards or were strictly allocated to individual wards. I suspect the latter.

My own recollection is that I saw on a regular basis maybe a dozen people throughout my four years there.

Men were rare: Dr Williams on his weekly round, the dreaded visit to the dentist Jenkin Evans every couple of months, the gardeners Edgar Davies and Alfie Repado when we were allowed out for an afternoon walk and, of course, Langford the porter.

So it came as a surprise to see this photo and realise so many people worked there.

Sylvia Moore, ex patient, nurse

The staff were all drawn from the local community and not only knew each other but were often related.

The head gardner Edgar Davies was married to the head of laundry and Nurse Glenys Davies was related to Getta Hibbert . One ex-patient Sylvia Peckham returned to work there and went on to marry a member of staff, engineer Donald Moore in 1961.

The staff in this photo comprise the following:

Nursing staff
2 doctors ,1 matron, 1 deputy matron, 6 sisters, 5 nurses (State enrolled nurses),
5 student nurses , 10 auxiliaries , 1 dentist.

Domestic and general maintenance:
22 domestic staff, 1 chef , 2 office staff,4 gardeners
2 engineers,1 plumber,3 porters,1 chauffeur
4 laundry and sewing ,1 boilerman/stoker,2 painters,1 carpenter.

Total: 82 people

It is believed at the time of writing (Jan. 2008) that at least 13 members of staff in this photo are still alive, including Sister Betty Lewis ( niece of the first matron of Craig-y-nos and Ken Lewis, boilerman/stoker.

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