Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Children of Craig-y-nos and the world wide web

Craig-y-nos Castle became the Adelina Patti Hospital.

“If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.”
Peter Handke Austrian author, playwright, poet.

Just over a year ago when I began this project little was known about the children who were in Craig-y-nos when it was a TB sanatorium.

Often guests in the Castle , which is now an hotel, would ask staff for information about this dark period in the castle's history and, rather than disappoint them, would create their own stories. After all the castle is said to be the most haunted in Wales and dozens of children died there. Ghost hunters repeatedly claim to hear their voices.

That was when I decided that : enough is enough.
Let us find those children who are still alive and hear their stories. After all I am one of them and I know that we too have tales to tell, many of them uncomfortable, as people are confronted for the first time , after half a century, with a child's perspective of life within Craig-y-nos Castle.

So began my search for the “Children of Craig-y-nos.” Soon emails were popping in my mail-box from all over the world....

Today you have only to google Craig-y-nos to find stories across several media platforms as we witness the convergence of information - text, video and podcasts - some even translated into Japanese and Slovakian!

The opening of both photographic exhibitions in Ystradgynlais and Brecon are on video web site . (including the excellent BBC news story )

Wikepedia carries an extensive entry - and no, neither Dr Reeves nor I put it in so we have no idea where it came from.

It says:
A "unique" record of life inside a tuberculosis sanatorium has gone on display after an appeal for memories prompted a worldwide response. The exhibition has been organised by Ann Shaw, of Crickhowell, Powys, a former patient at the Adelina Patti Hospital in the Swansea Valley. Better known as Craig-y-nos Castle, it housed TB patients from 1922-59. The display, at the Welfare Hall, Ystradgynlais, coincides with a reunion of staff and patients. Craig-y-nos Castle was the estate of the world-renowned opera singer Adelina Patti until her death in 1919. Two years later, it was bought by an organisation founded to combat TB in Wales and was reconstructed as a sanatorium before admitting its first patients in August 1922. Ms Shaw, a writer and artist who was there from 1950-54, began her search for information about the hospital and its patients last year, and advertised on websites and in local newspapers. She said: "Little did I know I was about to tap into the collective memory of a whole community, of people with stories waiting to be told, many of whom had never spoken of their experiences before." Ms Shaw said all the respondents had "their own unique tales of their time isolated from their families and the rest of the world in this secluded sanatorium on the edge of the Brecon Beacons." She said she had received e-mails from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK, and had been "deluged" with photographs. The exhibition is part of an oral history project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Sleeping Giant Foundation charity. Carole Reeves, outreach historian at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the history of medicine at the University College of London, said they were recording the memories of many of the people in the photographs. "It will be the first ever collective account by patients and staff of life inside a tuberculosis sanatorium and is therefore a unique heritage project," said Dr Reeves. "The time period, from the 1920s to the 1950s, is also crucial because of the tremendous activity by medical professionals and other groups to understand the nature of tuberculosis. "The real treatment breakthrough came in 1947 when the first effective medicine, an antibiotic called streptomycin, became available in Britain. "The children of Craig-y-nos were among the first to receive this new 'wonder' drug". The exhibition can be seen until Saturday 29 September, and is also online."

One of the most curious finds though was the following extract from Bratislava. ( I think it is about my blog though I can't be certain).

BRATISLAVA 12. septembra (SITA) - Obrázky zo ?ivota pacientov s tuberkulózou (TBC), ktorí sa kedysi lie?ili na anglickom zámku Craig-y-nos, sú sú?as?ou v?stavy organizovanej v Ystradgynlaise na juhozápade Anglicka. V niekdaj?om sanatóriu s romantickou scenériou sa chorí lie?ili v rokoch 1922 a? 1959. V?stavu zorganizovala b?valá pacientka Ann Shaw z Crickhowellu. Nemocnica bola v priestoroch zámku v Údolí Swansea od roku 1922. Meno dostala pod?a predo?lej majite?ky nehnute?nosti a svetoznámej opernej spevá?ky Adeliny Patti, ktorá zomrela v roku 1919. O dva roky neskôr kúpila zámok organizácia dotujúca boj proti TBC so sídlom vo Walese. Tá ho nechala zrekon?truova?, prerobila ho na sanatórium a prv?ch pacientov prijali v roku 1922.
Ann Shaw je dnes umelky?a a spisovate?ka. V dne?nom hoteli pre?ila ?tyri roky v období od roku 1950 do roku 1954. Informácie o nemocnici za?ala zbiera? pred pár rokmi. Príbehy ?udí, ktorí sa tu lie?ili, pova?ovala za ve?mi zaujímavé. Pod?a nej, "ka?d? zo zainteresovan?ch pre?il svoj vlastn? príbeh, posilnen? o to viac, ?e v?etci tu ?ili v izolácii od domova a svojich rodín". O svojom zámere získa? viac informácií o ?ivote niekdaj?ích pacientov uverej?ovala reklamu v médiách a do?kala sa odpovedí. Kontaktovali ju b?valí pacienti, dnes ?ijúci na Novom Zélande, v Austrálii, Kanade ?i Ve?kej Británii.
"Roky 1920 a? 1950 boli rozhodujúce aj pre neutíchajúcu aktivitu lekárov a vedcov ?i in?ch skupín pochopi? podstatu TBC," povedala histori?ka ?pecializujúca sa na dejiny medicíny Carole Reeves z University College of London. Skuto?n? prelom nastal v roku 1947, ke? sa vo Ve?kej Británii objavila prvá skuto?ne ú?inná lie?ba - antibiotikum streptomycín. "Deti v Craig-y-nos boli medzi prv?mi, ktoré dostávali zázra?n? liek", povedala Reeves.

You can, of course, click on the following sites I have put up:
online photographic exhibition:

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