Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Joan, a "plaster bed" patient.

Joan was in the next bed to me for a while on the balcony and we were close friends. She was a "plaster bed" patient which meant that she was required to lie in a half plaster cast which restricted her movement. She was always very cheerful and I often wonder what happened to her. Here she is with Nurse Glenys Davies. (Date 1951)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Barbara in the "Six-Bedder"

This looks like a birthday celebration in the "Six-Bedder" the room originally used as Adelina Patti's bedroom.
Photo taken sometime around 1953-54 and supplied by Beryl Lewis.

Mari Jenkins and "Auntie Maggie" -1952

Without doubt "Auntie Maggie" was one of our favourite nurses.
She was our mother figure and used to do all kinds of errands for us including buying Christmas presents to give our parents.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Craig-y-nos - "the hidden past"

Met up with a very old friend in London this weekend - we used to share a flat together there during the "Swinging Sixties", and
we once went hitch-hiking around Europe after working for a year in Iceland. Over the years our families have kept in touch.
Anway, she asked me what I was doing and I told her about Craig-y-nos .

She was astonished. I had never mentioned it to her. So I called up a picture of Craig-y-nos on the hotel computer. She took one look at it and said:"It's a prison!"

Why had I never talked about it before? so many people are contacting me and saying that they too had never spoken to anyone about the experience - until now.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Off to London for weekend

Many people have already told me that they bookmark my blog and I have been aiming to put something new up everyday. So this is by way of an explanation that for the next couple of days there will be no postings as I am off to London for the weekend.
However, in anticipation of this have added five extra postings so its worth scanning down the page to find them.

The phone lines between Wales and Scotland have been busy today after the Brecon and Radnor photo spread. Caroline has had a couple of calls from family and so have I.

Brecon and Radnor Express - Feb 22nd

There's a picture spread called "A trip down Memory Lane" on Craig-y-nos as a TB sanatorium in this week's paper. It's based on my weblog and photos I sent them.
Will this produce another avalanche of more photos? hope so.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Ann on blocks" with bird

Ann Williams, known to everyone as "Ann on blocks" with a blue-tit . Here she is on the balcony in 1957.

The girls had tamed quite a few birds and they would come on to the balcony regularly.

Beryl and Tosca - 1957

The strict regime had slackened off a lot by the time Beryl Rowlands was in. She says they used to go and catch the ponies belonging to Dr Williams' two daughters and ride them using dressing gown sashes as halters!...

"We got caught in a thunderstorm once and got soaked. We had a row when we returned to the ward," says Beryl.

Now a retired deputy headmistress of a big primary school Beryl has offered to write her own account of her memories of her days in Craig-y-nos, something that I am encouraging ex-patients to do if they wish.

Anonymous said...
Very amused to see my old pony Tosca. Obviously being ridden while i was at boarding school! From Mary(Nee Ivor William

Dr Gwyn Thomas, ex patient 1940's

Dr Gwyn Thomas went into Craig-y-nos as a six year old in May 1942 for seven months.
He remembers "crying like crazy" and that his father was very traumatised by leaving him there, he has memories of his father being reluctant to leave, and standing by the door. His mother had been equally reluctant to let him go because she believed that everyone went there to die.

He was told during a later visit that 25% of patients died while at Craig-y-nos at that time. He spent his entire time in the Billiard Room ward. He wanted to go on the balcony, but he was never allowed.
He remembers that all his clothes were taken from him upon admission "they left me with a hair shirt", and that he was in a cot.

He re-visited Craig-y-nos when he was 40 and again the following year. As a consultant they allowed him to see his medical records and he found a letter from his mother to him which he had never been given.
He took it, and still has it.

( This is an extract from a telephone interview by Caroline Boyce ( nee Havard) who is helping with the research.)

Harry Secombe visits Craig-y-nos

Many people have told me about Hary Secombe's visit to Craig-y-nos, it may even have been on more than one occasion, so I was delighted to receive this photograph of him.

It was sent in by Betty Jakes ( hope I have got the spelling of your name right Betty) from Llanmadoc, Gower.

He did a pantomine for patients. It is unclear whether this was in the Empire theatre, Swansea and patients were taken there or in the Adelina Patti theatre.
Perhaps someone could clarify this? Afterwards Harry visited all the wards but his wife Myra didnt because she was expecting her first baby.

Betty says she used to go dancing with Harry Secombe's wife.

Euryl Thomas, retired medical secretary

Extract from interview with Euryl Thomas, retired medical secretary for 18 years at Craig-y-nos hospital, now living in Abercrave:

Euryl was in Ward 1 with 26 beds in 1950
“While I was there four young women died in six months in Ward 1. I pestered Dr Williams to let me go home because I lived nearby in Abercrave. I promised to rest, so he let me go.”

Facts and figures - Craig-y-nos

Euryl Thomas, age 74, was a patient in Craig-y-nos for six months from 21st June 1950.
Later she worked as a medical secretary in the hospital for 18 years.

These are some facts and figures she remembers:
35 girls in top 2 wards (Ward 1 and 2)
20 babies - Ward 3
6 in Six-bedder
26 ward 1 young adults
22 ward 4
10-15 boys on balcony. ward 1

Total number of patients: 120- 130

During the 20’s and 30’s some young men were also admitted. This is all done from personal accounts so if anyone can recall more specific details let me know. The number of patients varied over the 40 years it was used as a TB sanatorium, along with the type of patients admitted.

Alfie- the Spanish gardener

The gardeners were a great attraction for the girls, especially the tall good looking Spanish one, Alfie. Here is a picture of Mari Jenkins and Myfanwy rowing with Alfie....and all the time Dr Huppert and Sister Morgan thought they were having good wholesome walks in the fresh air.

Girls on the balcony -1953

The girls are (from left to right): standing
Florence, Mari and Ann
(front row) Myfanwy, unknown, and Shirley.

If anyone seeing these photos is able to add any more information do let me know:

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Afternoon walk

Who are these girls? does anyone recognize them?
they are part of Mari Jenkins'collection

Norma Pearce - early 1950's

Norma rang up this morning. Her family had cut the story out of the South Wales Evening Post . She had put it off, not wanting to make that phone call.
I am glad she did. We were in at the same time and we both remembered being among a whole gang of girls from Ward 2 who hid in the rhododendron bushes to avoid going back to Miss White's singing lesson. After that we were not allowed out into the grounds on Thursday afternoons incase we didn't come back.

Norma also remembers this song which she says everyone sang in the evenings as the nurses tucked us up for the night:

"I have the TB flushes
I have them very bad
They wrapped me up in blankets
And put me in the van

The van was very rocky
It nearly knocked me out
And when the door was opened
I gave a mighty shout:

"Mama, Dada fetch me home
From this isolation home
I have been here a year or two
And now I want to be with you."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Dr Huppert - complex character

It's strange how something that happened to you in childhood still resonates 50 years later and affects your decisions in simple daily choices. I have become very aware of how deeply Craig-y-nos has influenced my life since I began work on this project though if someone had asked me a couple of months ago I would have brushed it aside and said:"Nonsense! "
Take this morning when I put on a grey sweater. All my life I have hated the colour grey and I only bought this sweater because it was (a) very cheap on a sale (£15 from Zara) and (b) grey is supposed to be the "new black" .

The reason I have this aversion to grey, which I have struggled and failed to overcome, is that when the order went out from Dr Huppert for me to write home to mother for clothes she rushed out and bought a grey skirt, grey sweater and grey cardigan. When Dr Huppert saw me in these clothes she demanded to see my mother at the next visiting time and instructed her to buy me clothes with colour "suitable for a little girl".

Maybe I will send this grey sweater to Oxfam....

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Staff and patients in Adelina Patti theatre - 1951

This was taken in 1951 and looks like a gathering of patients and staff , probably for Christmas.

Nurse Glenys Davies

"Putting on the style!" a youthful nurse Glenys Davies gives a twirl in her uniform.
Nurse Davies was one of the most popular nurses at Craig-y-nos.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Mary Ireland (nee Jones)

Mary on her way for an x-ray.

Mary remembers her mother being called in to see Dr Huppert and being told that unless she had an operation she was going to die .
"My mother was crying and she was taken to the local pub for a drink. I went home to wait for a a place in Sully but by the time it came up they decided I was “cured” and so I never had the operation."

Today Mary lives near Gloucester, she recently celebrated her Golden Wedding and she has 4 children, 5 grandchildren and a "wonderful husband."

Mothers shared transport

Mary Jones from Llangattock and myself from Crickhowell. My mother had a car, something that was still quite rare in 1950 in rural Wales, moreover she could drive, an even rarer occurence. She used to give Mary's mother a lift and I have just learnt that Caroline's mother, from Brecon, also got a lift.
My mother ran quite a little taxi service!

I am still on strict bed-rest, lying on my side with my bed on blocks but I am out on the balcony which was much better than inside bleak Ward 2.

Caroline to help with research

Caroline popped over this afternoon to collect a tape recorder and list of names. She has volunteered to help me with some of the interviews. Between 80-90 people have responded to my request for information. So folks please be patient!... we will get to you in due course.

This photo of Caroline turned up in Mari Jenkins vast collection. She had never seen it before. She is seated, of course, on the famous "stag", a popular photographic venue and a significant marker in the staging process. Your first walk was between the 2 stags.

Coronation - 1953

(From left to right):Babs, Florence (deceased), Ann ( living in Scotland), Mari ( living in Cwmavon, Port Talbot) and Alice.

Photo supplied by Mari Jenkins. Note the paper streamers, flag painted on the cupboard and one of the notorious green tarpaulins hanging over the balcony rail.
The floor is cement.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Boys on balcony -1951

Ths is a photo from Mari Jenkins collection. She is unsure of the exact date. It could be 1952. The woman in the background is Miss Amy White the teacher.

How did Mari get this photo? there was strict segregation between the boys and girls and no girl would have been allowed on the boys balcony. ( TB was supposed to make you very sexy!)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Three girls in a boat - 1949

Afternoon boating. This was strictly illegal. Dulcie is in the middle.

Dulcie Oltersdorf, aged 80 from Sketty, Swansea sent me a remarkable collection of photographs which arrived this morning in the post. Its like Christmas! I never know what new treats await me when the postman arrives.

It coincided with a phone call from the Brecon and Radnor weekly newspaper who are doing a spread on photos from Craig-y-nos so I sent this one off too.

Dulcie says of her time at Craig-y-nos:" I went in three days before my 21st birthday...on the whole I was comfortable and happy there."
The only unpleasant experience she recalls were the regular blood tests taken by Dr Huppert:
"We reckoned she used blunt needles because afterwards our arms would be covered in bruises."

I am puzzled by this. What was the purpose of blood tests? We never had them in the childrens ward.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Matron Knox-Thomas

Mari Friend ( nee Jenkins) sent in this photo taken in 1952. Mari is second from the right in the front row. But who are the others? and what was the occasion?

David Perrott of Abercrave

David was a "plaster bed"patient for two years in 1950. He lived out on the balcony and during the summer he was given goggles to protect his eyes and during the winter he was given ear muffs and vaseline rubbed on his face to protect him from the cold for he lived out on the balcony even in sub-zero temperatures.

He was told that he would never have children and never be able to work. He did both. He lived in Abercrave, only a few miles from Craig-y-nos Castle.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mari Jenkins 1952

This morning a CD arrived from Mari with 74 photos on it! Mari was in Craig-y-nos from 1950-53. Some of our photos duplicate each other but she has a vast collection, the biggest I have come across. This makes me think that perhaps we ought to be looking at a photographic exhibition somewhere. After all this is a piece of social/medical history never seen before.

This is Mari on the roof of Craig-y-nos- strictly illegal. She is now a grandmother and living in Cwmavon near Port Talbot.

Where's Dorothy now?

Blonde, blue-eyed Dorothy always liked a bit of glamour. Here she is using a thermometer and hankie as fashion accessories! and who is the nurse?
(Photo 1950)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Mary Ireland (nee Jones)

Just spoken to Mary - first time for over 50 years!- she is now a grandmother and living in Gloucester.
Mary comes originally from Llangattock, near Crickhowell and my mother used to give her mother a lift to Craig-y-nos. She says she has photos of us together. She was in the next bed but one to me and remembers me as :"that very shy, timid little girl."

Well, 20 years working as a newspaper journalist in Glasgow, one of the toughest cities in Europe, certainly cured me of my that!

Dorothy was in the bed between us. So far Dorothy has not turned up but we both remember Dorothy because she was very helpful to us.

It was Dorothy who explained to me that I had TB, not that it meant anything to me at the time but I do remember her saying:"You've got a hole in the lung and you have got to keep very still. If you move that hole will grow bigger and bigger and you will die."
After receiving that bit of information I lay very still. For 15 months.
I was on 12 inch blocks. Mary was on 4 inch blocks.

Craig-y-nos Castle

This is a rare old photograph of Craig-y-nos with its balconies. The top balcony was attached to Ward 2 (girls) and the bottom was the boys ward.
Photo supplied by Caroline Boyce (nee Havard).

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Where are we now? -1952 Craig-y-nos

Afternoon walk in the grounds of the Adelina Patti hospital.
(From left to right)
Ann Rumsey, Valerie Howell, Isobel, Myfanwy Hoyles and Florence.
This photo was supplied by Myfanwy (married name Blatchford) now living in Swansea.
I am on the left ( looking miserable!) now married and living in Scotland. Nothing is known of Valerie and Isobel. Sadly Florence has died.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Visitors Pass

Gwanwyn Evans - 1931-32

Gwanwyn Evans of Ffinnant Isaf, Aberyscir, Brecon, was in Craig-y-nos in 1932 as a 10 year old with TB in the jaw. Now 85 years of age she sent in the following written account. ( This is an extract).

"There was no public transport so the local vicar conveyed me to Craig-y-nos from my home in Builth Wells. I was put in Ward 2 with girls my own age and some older women.

The treatment consisted in my having a sun-ray lamp applied to the scar. The first application frightened me - I was only 10- because a black, strange smelling sheet of something like cardboard was placed on my face. I learned that it contained an aperture for my scar but the rest had to protect my face against the sun-ray. Each morning I proceeded to have the scab "torn away", the bleeding stopped with the application of methylated spirits - did that smart?- and then the heat applied. I was in hospital for 16 weeks and so this continued for that period of time.

All the children, boys and girls, went each morning to the Sun-ray room wearing only little calico pants and goggles and we sat around, had games or sang songs around the big Sun-ray lamp.

Lord David Davies, Llandinan, was a benefactor then of several sanatoria and he came to the hospital as Father Christmas.
The present from Father Christmas was a doll which I kept for 10 years.

One death occured while I was at Craig-y-nos. A woman was isolated in a Ward which we passed on our way to the bathroom. We were told to be quiet when in that region and we were aware of when she passed away...

My parents didn't visit me, believing it would only unsettle me but the Vicar and his wife did come one day. I spent little time with them I remember but at least they were able to tell my parents they had seen me.

Came the time, in February, for me to go home and, on this occasion the Vicar fetched my mother down. I cried when I saw her- after all, I hadn't seen her for four months- and sobbed all the way home from Craig-y-nos to Builth Wells.

"Squash, squash, squash" - 1930's

This story was sent in by Gwanwyn Evans of Aberyscir, near Brecon:

"If you were reprimanded in Craig-y-nos it was called "squash" and one girl called Madge wrote the following lines which we used to sing, when out of hearing of the staff:

" Squash, squash, squash, here comes Staff Nurse to squash us

Squash, squash, squash, that's all we're getting here
The nurses and the sisters,
Their tongues must be in blisters,
That's all we get in Craig-y-nos is
Squash, squash, squash!"

Many years later my husband saw Madge in Brecon. She had become a Sergeant in the ATS and she was seen marching her recruits around Brecon.
It was obvious her stay in Craig-y-nos had been beneficial."

Friday, February 09, 2007

Boys on the balcony 1944-46

This photo has just arrived on email from Alice-May Brickstock. She says her grandfather, Peter Lesley Stacey Perkins, was in Craig-y-nos from 1944-46.

He is 74 years of age and remembers quite a lot from those days. He is in the bed on the far right hand side with the nurse beind him.

Other people in the photo are Leonard Smalldon from Swansea ( left). Anthony Downy from Port Talbot (4th from the left) now deceased. The nurse behind Peter Perkins is Sister Williams. He remembers another boy called Peter Wagstaff in the next bed to him.

Does anyone recognize anybody else in this photo?

e-mail me if you do:

Brenda Bater- Ward 2

Does anyone know what happened to Brenda Bater? this photograph was supplied by Myfanwy Blatchford ( nee Hoyles) taken around 1952/53.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Inside Ward 2, 1952

Sheila inside Ward 2.
I don't have any more details. Note the raised bed on blocks in the background.

Ann and Caroline - re-union! - 2007

Caroline called around this afternoon - the first time we have met for over 50 years! - and she only lives about 10 miles along the Ochils from me! She moved to Scotland seven years ago with her husband after they both retired from teaching in Kent.

Caroline was at Craig-y-Nos for 20 months, at the same time as myself. After leaving the hospital she went to Brecon Grammar School for Girls, and then trained as an Occupational Therapist. She married, had two children and retrained as a teacher in the seventies, and combined both disciplines by teaching children with cerebral palsy and, latterly, autism.

She has many memories of her time at Craig-y-Nos - the high excitement of the monthly visiting weekend and receiving parcels and letters from home, reading an endless succession of books, boredom, the companionship of other children, the rigid hospital routine, and the longed-for walks in the lovely hospital grounds once she was allowed to be out of bed and dressed in day clothes. One abiding memory is of Sybil, a child from a travellers' family, being admitted into the ward and her frantic fear and misery as her weeping parents departed.

Myfanwy Blatchford (nee Hoyles) "more like St Trinians"

Alfie the gardener rescues Myfanwy Hoyles and Mari Jenkins . They had gone rowing on the lake and got stuck and Alfie was called upon to go and save them.

This is one of 18 photos that arrived this morning from Myfanwy. She writes about her five month experience in Craig-y-nos as a 12 year old in 1952:"
Despite our illness, I believe we made the best of our time whilst in the hospital. At times more like St Trinians than a sanatorium. I hope everyone of us, except Florence ( who died) had a healthy and happy life after."

Edward Ellis Thomas, age 85.

Ted, as he is best known as, is the oldest ex patient to come forward. He was in Craig-y-nos as a 7 year old for one year and has sent in a handwritten account. This is an extract:

He remembers :" In 1928 I travelled with my parents by train to Penycae, the station above Craig-y-nos , where we were met by a black ambulance and taken to the hospital. The ward was the large "all glazed" Childrens Ward ( conservatory), overlooking the river Tawe.

"On my second afternoon we were all carried down to a picnic by the river."

"Running beneath the beds were heating pipe ducts with ornamental cast-iron covers. We would wet tiny paper pellets in our mouths and drop them through the covers to hear mice and rats scuttle."

Ted lives in Brynmill Swansea and is a retired civil engineer with local government.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mary Richards (nee Driscoll) Craig-y-nos 1946-47

Mary from Swansea just rang. She has lot of memories. Here's some:

"During the blizzards in 1947 I was out on the balcony.
My Gran asked if it was right that we should be left out there in those conditions and she was told that it was part of the treatment.
I was kept in bed for the first 3 months. I had my tonsils removed and used to have a tube pushed down into my stomach. I dont know what for.

Dr Huppert, an Austrian woman doctor, a short woman with a limp petfried me. She was nasty. She shouted at me one day to get the two curlers out of my hair. I shall always remember that."

Hospital records

Anyone wishing to get hold of their hospital records from their time in Craig-y-nos should write to the following address with full details ( name, age, time in hospital etc).

The Medical Secretary, Carol Page, Ystradgynlais Community Hospital, Glanrhyd Rd., Ystradgynlais, Powys, SA91AE. Phone 01639 846402.
Or contact the hospital administrator Carol Page: 01639 844777.

I can't guarantee they will have them all there but I have interviewed the medical secretary, Euronwy Lewis, who was responsible for helping to put some of them on record.

Roy Harry- Craig-y-nos 1940's

Roy from Cwmavon has agreed to be the first person to do an "oral history" recording on Craig-y-nos with the Sleeping Giant Foundation.
Admitted at 3 years of age he was there for 4 years.

Shooting parties and rabbit stew-Craig-y-nos 1930s

Received a letter this morning from Ellis Thomas, aged 85 who was in Craig-y-nos during the 20s. He enclosed a copy of a letter he received a few years ago from Vernon Evans.
"Like you I have only met one peson who has been a patient at Craig-y-nos, a local man who entered just after me, he also was cured, and he must have been alright, having passed his medical exam and served in the Navy during the war. I was turned down and they told me they didn't want lame ducks in the fighting forces.

"I well remember Dr Grant and her assistant Dr Walker. I'm glad that there are the likes of you who understand what we went through as a lot of people think we are exaggerating at the treatment we received.

I suppose you remember the gentry and the doctors having their shooting parties on a Tuesday, and we the patients lived on rabbit meat and stews for a few days. I found the food wasn't too bad, until I found a slug on my Brussel sprouts, which put me off them for life.

I was born in 1919 the tenth child of fourteen children, 7 boys and 7 girls, so you can imagine the struggle my parents had to make ends, although I lacked for nothing through the kindness of relatives and friends. I started work in the family bakery business becoming a master baker , and served 53 years before retiring. I spent some time as a lecturer in Bakery and Confectionery at Bridgend College. I now write a weekly column in the Glamorgan Gazette about the happenings in the Llynfi Valley."
Sadly Vernon died seven years ago.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pamela Hill 1958-1959

Pamela was in Craig-y-nos as a 6 year old from April 1958- April 1959. This is a photo of her with her aunt and uncle. Her father was in Talgarth with TB at the same time.
She says:" It was very difficult for my mother at that time with both of us in different hospitals and with my brother just being 3 years old. Although we had a car my mother couldn't drive and it was quite difficult for her to travel from our home which at that time was in Aberdare."

Monday, February 05, 2007

Re-union - Ann and Rosemary -2007

Rosemary Davies ( nee Harley) from Llanstephan was my best friend in Craig-y-nos in 1951.
She was 10 years of age at the time.

Rosemary was one of 11 children. She says going into Craig-y-nos made her feel "special. I had 5 younger brothers and sisters and 5 older ones. We had visiting every month and I used to get lots of presents and attention."

Rosemary was not confined to bed and has happy memories of her time at Craig-y-nos.. The only downside she can remember is that when she came home she couldn't bear to sleep in the house and insisted on sleeping in the barn ( the family had a smallholding).

We used to break into the library to get books because we were the only ones thin enough to get through the bars. Then Rosemary put on weight and got stuck and refused to go in. So it was left to me to break in and open the door to let the others from the balcony in to raid Miss White, the teacher's library.
Oh yes we did return the books once we had read them.

After leaving school Rosemary wanted to be a hairdresser but was advised against it by Dr. Williams, the TB specialist. Instead she "lead a country life out in the open air working on farms " and she attributes this to her long and healthy life. She has a son and today works part-time in the Brigend Inn in Llyswen.

Rosemary remembers the stern Austrian woman doctor, Dr Huppert:" She tore the plaster off my neck ( I had TB gland) and it ripped the skin off too and she kept saying. "No pain, you not feel pain." Dr Huppert also ordered my long plaits to be cut off because she said they took energy away."

Friday, February 02, 2007

Nurse with children

Nurse Glenys Jones with some of the very young children taken some time in the 1950's. (date uncertain).

Childrens pantomine in Adelina Patti theatre

This photo came from the Sleeping Giant Foundation, probably from the mid 1940's.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Nan Davies ghost story

Haydn Harris tells this tale:

“Nan was a patient in the Sanatorium in 1928-29, at the age of eleven. The children were to organise a choir to give a concert to the parents one visiting day. One young girl, with a good voice, was picked to sing a solo. Nan, with the second best voice, was to be her stand-in. When the big day came the soloist was taken ill, and Nan had to take her place. Naturally she was worried, nervous and wondered what sort of a show she would put on. As she stood in the wings, she became aware of a woman standing alongside her. She wore a long dress with a bustle at the back, and her long hair was brushed into a bob. She told Nan that she wasn’t nervous, and would sing like she had never sung before. She was a great success. Nan rushed back to thank her friend in the wings to find she had disappeared. She always believed it was the ghost of Madam Adelina Patti that had helped her.
God help you if you didn’t believe her. Believe the story if you will, or dont believe it. But beware of the ghost of Nan Davies if you don’t.”

Nan died 6 years ago.

Some of Haydn Harris' stories

Snow on the balcony
"It was lovely sitting on the balcony when the sun was shining. But sometimes our beds were pushed out there, and we had to sleep out in the open. Mind you, they did fit a tarpaulin over the bed sheets. I can remember waking up with a layer of snow on my tarpaulin. "

Squirrels in cages
"We were sent on regular walks in the open air, often down in the gardens near the river. We used to visit the Gardeners Hut. The gardeners used to catch squirrels and keep them in cages, so that we could see them."

It was difficult for my parents to travel up the Neath and Swansea Valleys in those days. So visiting was restricted to one day per month. But they could stay for most of the day. I was worried when my mother failed to turn up for a couple of months before I was released. I began to wonder what had happened to her.
But when I got home I found I had a baby brother, a few weeks old.

Haydn Harris -Craig-y-nos- 1937

Haydn Harris from Port Talbot was in Craig-y-nos in 1937-38 for eleven months. He was 4 years of age. He has sent in a full account of his memories and this is a brief extract:

My ward was at the back of the building ( men's and boys ward. overlooking the gardens and river. It had a large, covered but open balcony running the length of the outside. The inside of the ward had a platform at one end, about four foot higher than there rest of the floor. As young as I was, I knew that it was best to keep away form the higher level. The “Iron Lungs” were situated there. These were machines that helped ‘extreme’ patients to breath. Except for their head and neck, the patient was completely enveloped in the machine. Very few patients came down from the platform alive.

The one occasion I didn't mind going up on to the platform was Christmas Day, 1937. Father Christmas arrived in the morning and sat at the edge of the platform with his sack. All the children that were capable went up on to the platform to talk to him, and receive a present. I seem to remember mine was a model truck."

"Is your wife dead?"

My husband finds himself with the unexpected job as my secretary and he got a bit of a shock this morning when one very elderly woman talking about Craig-y-nos asked him:"Is your wife dead?"