Sunday, September 30, 2007

Barbara and Elaine Wellington.

Does anyone remember these two sisters who were in Craig-y-nos ?

I have had a request from Barbara’s daughter, Kaye Forsey.
She is trying to find out what life was really like at Craig-y-nos for it appeared to deeply affect both her mother and her aunt though the one was there in the 1940's and the other in the early 1950's.

Kaye says in her e-mail:
“My mother was born in 1930 and spent four years in Craig-y-nos. She would not talk much about her time there except that that when she was due to come home they said she could only go home if she had her own room.

She had 5 other sisters and 1 brother who all lived in a small 3 bedroom terrace house.
This was impossible, so she went to live with
her aunt who only had 1 son . She stayed there until she married.”
Barbara died in 1996.

Her aunt Elaine would have been in Craig-y-nos at the same time as myself and I feel sure she is on some of the many photos we have received.

Kaye says:
“Aunt Elaine was born in 1942 and went into Craig-y-nos as a 9 year old . She was there for 3 years and she remembers the Coronation.

My aunt Elaine now lives in Australia also never talked about her time there
until recently after having lung cancer. She went through chemo and radium and now has no cancer.

During her time in hospital it has brought back everything that happened to
her in Craig-y-Nos, which has given her mental problems.
She has given up and just sits in a chair,this has gone on for so long that she can't walk or use her arms.

My uncle has to do everything for her.
Her speech is very bad but she knows and remembers everything.

I have read everything that is on the BBC web site and have learned a lot
about the daily lives of the children who were there.

Is there a way of finding out if any one knew my mother and aunt?”

If you remember either Barbara or Elaine then Kay Forsey would love to hear from you. email address:

Or contact myself:

Kaye has some photos which she is going to send to me so this may well prompt a few memories.
I feel certain I must know her...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

End of exhibition stories

I am very grateful to Valerie Brent from Mumbles for spending the last couple of Fridays at the exhibition.

Valerie, as you all know, started her nursing career as a 15 year old at Craig-y-nos during the mid 1940’s.

The matron took her in because she had been left an orphan. She was there for two years and it was Dr Huppert who suggested to her one day that she ought to go and train to become a qualified SRN.

So she left Craig-y-nos to go to train at Morriston hospital.
After a life-time nursing she wrote a book:"Life isn't all kiwi and oranges".

Valerie was at hand yesterday to talk to people and to glean more stories.

Here are some:
Tegan Evans went into Craig-y-nos as a 9 year old in 1924. Later she trained as a teacher but after marriage had to give it up.
So she went back to Craig-y-nos as a part time secretary to Dr Williams and in the afternoons she used to teach the children.

Neville Williams went in as a two year old into Craig-y-nos in 1937 and came out in 1941.
He had TB of the spine and was strapped to the bed because he was too young to be put in plaster.
But the TB kept recurring.
Non Jones was in during 1951.
She was a local girl and was believed to be too ill to be in Craig-y-nos so Dr Williams used to visit her at home to give her treatment streptomycin.
Eventually she was admitted first to Craig-y-nos then Morriston where she underwent pioneering surgery with the removal of one lung and the lobe of another.

It was successful and she went on to work in London, got married and had one child. She has enjoyed good health ever since.

Tom, an evacuee from Liverpool, caught TB and was admitted to Craig-y-nos.

His mother moves down to Ystradgynlais with her two other children in the early 1940s.
Later they return to Liverpool leaving the boy in Craig-y-nos.
He dies.

The Smith family. Mother , father and three children were all in Craig-y-nos during the mid 1940’s. Valerie Brent nursed the children in the Glass Conservatory.
”You have to remember that TB was rife in families then.” She doesn't know what happened to the family, or how many survived.
Rose Evans, a young woman from Pencader in West Wales was admitted to Ward 4.
It was a very traumatic experience for her because her family were unable to visit because of the distance .
She refused to eat.
A local family, the Hughes family in Pen-y-cae, befriended her and Tess Hughes the daughter remembers her family smuggling in home-made soup for Rose to eat.
“She loved our soup. It was a turning point for her. She started to eat again,” says Tess.
Eventually Rose was moved on to Sully and the family lost touch with her.

( N.B. Visiting hours - The young adults were allowed visiting every weekend . Children had visitors one weekend a month).

"Children of Craig-y-nos" exhibition ends

Yesterday the exhibition , Children of Craig-y-nos, came to a close in The Welfare Hall, Ystradgynlais.

It has been very successful and I wish to give a special ,"thank-you" to Cynthia Mullan of the Sleeping Giant Foundation and the staff at The Welfare Hall for their help and co-operation with this exhibition.

Without their support and encouragement from the very beginning this would not have been possible.

While most people who visited the exhibition were from within the Swansea Valley, Brecon and Cardiff areas we do know that people came from as far afield as Yorkshire, Norfolk ,Southampton, Hampshire, Coventry, and Scotland ( apart from myself!).

All were either ex-patients or had some connection with Craig-y-nos like Mary Sutton-Coulson, daughter of Dr Williams ( Hampshire) or Dr Gwyn Thomas (Norfolk - ex-patient).

Meanwhile the exhibition continues online at:

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mary-Sutton-Coulson, Dr Williams' daughter

Edgar, the gardener, holds baby Bonzo the pet badger belonging to Ruth and Mary.

Christmas party.
(from left to right) Mary, Ruth, unknown child in arms of Santa Claus and Matron Knox-Thomas.

Mary and Ruth with Santa Claus (dentist )

Ruth with pet badger, Bonzo.

Dr. Ivor Williams amd his wife

Dr Williams had to daughters, Mary and Ruth.
Their ponies, Lady and Tosca, were often "borrowed" by teenager patients to ride in the woods while their owners were away at boarding school.

This happened in the mid-1950s yet Mary only learnt of this recently while surfing the web and she came across photos of patients with her ponies on this blog.

This intrigued Mary and she made a special point of travelling up from Hampshire to attend the Patients Reunion and to see the exhibition.

She made a bee-line in the bar at Craig-y-nos Castle for the "culprits" Beryl Rowlands and Christine Bennett.

I am not certain who was the most surprised!

Ruth and Mary also had a pet badger, Bonzo looked after by Edgar, the head gardener.

Mary and Ruth outside Craig-y-nos Castle with their pony, Lady, and Paddy, the red setter belonging to Matron Knox-Thomas

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Roger Wyn Beynon -1949-54

Roger receiving the"fresh air" tretment

When I first saw these photos I asssumed they were from the 1920's or 1930's. Imagine my surprise to discover that they were taken between 1949-54.
I had thought that tying children to the bed was a practise that had died out by then but clearly as these pictures show it was still being used in Craig-y-nos during the 1950s.

Roger from Ammanford says:
"I am now 60 and visited Craig-y-nos for the first time 14 years ago since leaving there. I was very apprehensive and became very emotional when, whilst walking in the park below, looked up and saw the balcony and the statue of the stag. I have laid the ghosts and go back occasionally. The last time was before Xmas last year when I attended a function there with my wife. I got speaking to a member of staff about my experiences there and was delighted to be shown the old children's ward. How small it looked and I was able to see where my old cot was located. I did not realise how cramped we kids were until I saw an old photo on the web.

Roger with his father
To read the full text of Roger's email go back a few weeks to September 13th

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"T.B. Flushes"

Norma Pearce reminded me that in the early 1950's they used to sing every night in Ward 2 ( not out on the balcony though) the following song before going to sleep.

"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 out from this isolation home
I have been here a year or two
And now I want to be with you.”

Visitor from Southampton

At the exhibition Norma Pearce met a man who had travelled all the way from Southampton.
He had been in Craig-y-nos as a child and he told her the experience had left a mark on him for life.
“I felt as if he was so sad.”

Lets hope that seeing the photographs and visiting the area and talking to people helped him to “lay some ghosts”.
Too many of us have got repressed painful memories which we have never dared voice to anyone before simply because the Craig-y-nos experience was so strange and weird that it would be difficult for an outsider to comprehend it.

Then of course there was the taboo surrounding the disease. You did not talk about TB. Until now.

Norma Lewis ( nee Pearce) - 1951

Christmas party 1951 in the Adelina Patti theatre

Norma Pearce rang after visiting the exhibition.

“I was so excited I didn't know whether to scream or cry.”

As she walked around the room she came across photographs of herself she never knew existed .

She said:
“Then I saw Dr Huppert!... I felt as if it was just like yesterday, that I had been whisked back in time. It was surreal.”

Norma has never been back to Craig-y-nos except to the grounds and was really sorry to miss the Reunion but she had already booked to go on holiday.

So she was thrilled to hear that two friends from her time in Craig-y-nos in 1953 Mari Friend ( nee Jenkins) and Pat Hybert ( nee Mogridge) attended the Reunion.
So I gave her their phone numbers.

Mari Jenkins with Pat Mogridge on the stag

She recalls that she used to write letters to Pat in the Six -Bedder who used to send little gifts to her.
“The young women in the Six Bedder befriended us. They had visiting every week so they got lots of sweets which they would share with us. They were our pen-friends.”

Harry Secombe, touring the wards after the Christmas pantomine.

She remembers going down to the theatre to see Harry Secombe in the pantomime and how he came around the ward afterwards and kissed everyone.

“Harry gave me my first kiss. I was ever so proud of that. I used to tell my boyfriend that I had only ever been kissed once before and that was by Harry Secombe.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Exhibition opening- Welfare Hall, 2007

Sharing their memories...

Malcolm Shaw -responsible for digitising and mounting the exhibition

Three ex-patients catch up on old times - Roy Harry, Ann Shaw and Suzanne Evans watched by Suzanne's daughter

Brecon and Radnor Express photographer with Clive Rowlands in the background, Dr Carole Reeves and reporter from the Brecon & Radnor newspaper

BBC Six o'Clock News interviewing Ann

Enjoying coffee and company at the exhibition

(Photographs supplied by artist/photographer Karen Howard)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Patients Reunion - Suzanne and Ann

(Left) Suzanne Evans with Ann Shaw at the Reunion in Craig-y-nos Castle

Suzanne on the balcony and Ann on blocks. (1951)

How many children from the 40’s and 50’s met up again for the first time at the Patients Reunion?

I still don’t know but I think it would be fair to share very few . Only two from my four years in Craig-y-nos were there: Mari Jenkins and Suzanne Davies. (early 1950’s)

The mid-1950s folk were luckier: Christine Bennett, Anna Glass and Beryl Rowlands were certainly one group meeting for the first time.

Many said that this was a disappointment and want to know when we are going to organise the next Reunion.
That’s what Craig-y-nos Castle are asking too....
Well, its not impossible.

Radio 4

We have just heard that Radio 4 are interested in doing a programme on "The Children of Craig-y-nos" and a researcher has already been in touch with both Dr Carole Reeves and myself.

Watch this space!......

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mary Davies -1951-first return visit

Mary from Rhayader was the first person to appear at the Patients Reunion- she had driven nearly 60 miles to make her first ever return visit to Craig-y-nos since she left over 50 years ago.
And yes, there were a few tears as the memories came flooding back.

Not that Mary was unhappy at Craig-y-nos. She went on to have a bungalow built and called it “Craig-y-nos”.
Yes this did cause some confusion with the hotel staff when she booked for the lunch and they asked for her address...

“Not not our address ..what’s yours?”
“Craig-y-nos” repeated Mary.

Earlier in the week both Mary and I had featured in the South Wales Evening Post in an article about the forthcoming reunion.
Out of 16 photos sent to the paper they used three- one of Mary and two of myself though we are not named.

For the newspaper were unaware that the photos they had chosen were in fact the same person! ( I had grown up in Craig-y-nos.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Royden Stead from Clydach, near Abergavenny

"I was at Craig y Nos for about 2 years from 1940 to 1942. I was 2 years old when I was admitted and my family lived too far away and couldn't afford to visit. My father made the journey as often as he could by pushbike!!

Apparently I used to greet him with "I don't know my daddy".
I remember feeling like a stranger when I eventually went home.

Some years ago I met a lady who had been a nurse at the sanitorium, unfortunately I don't remember her name. She asked me if I was one of the poor children or the rich ones. I told her that I had been one of the poor ones! Her response was "Don't worry we tried to look after you and bring small presents for you".
Mon Sep 10 11:02:01 2007
( extract from the BBC Mid-Wales web-site)

Valerie Brent, ex-nurse Craig-y-nos 1940's

Valerie Brent, author of “Life isn't all kiwi and oranges” her autobiography of her nursing career, which started as a teenager in Craig-y-nos in the 1940’s, was at The Welfare Hall again yesterday for the exhibition.

She travels up from Mumbles every Friday to sit in the Lesser Hall in order to talk to people, if they wish, who are visiting the exhibition. This ties in well with the weekly coffee morning run by Friends of the Welfare.

Asked if she had a good day she replied:”Marvellous!.. I met so many lovely people with stories to tell.”

Here are a few.
Glanville Jones was a 10 year old boy on the balcony in the 1940s. His cousin was not allowed to visit so he used to go up to Penwyllt station with binoculars or “spy glasses” as they were known as in those days.

Then he would wave to his cousin, Glanville, who also had a pair of binoculars.
That’s how they communicated all the time he was in Craig-y-nos.

(For those unfamiliar with the area Penwyllt station is opposite Craig-y-nos Castle. It’s here that Adelina Patti had a waiting room built for her many guests).

Another visitor yesterday was Richard Smallwood who was in the Glass Conservatory as a 11 year old in 1957.

He recalls the occasion a visitor brought in a banana and Sister Powell “went crazy” claiming the banana was indigestible and bad for children.
“She played pop!” said Richard.

Death was regular occurence at Craig-y-nos before the advent of drugs and staff could not help but become emotionally involved if it was a child or young person.
Valerie recalls how Nurse Glenys Davies was devastated by the death of 14 year old Loraine.

Valerie says:
“I remember Loraine. She was such a pretty girl with long dark hair. She had been given a bright blue suit and she decided to wear it to go to the Adelina Patti theatre to a concert. The patients liked to dress up.

But she died shortly afterwards. I helped Nurse Glenys Davies lay her out . She was very upset, I could tell.
She said:" I am not going to put her in the white gown," ( The long regulation white gown was the standard practise )
" I am going to bury Loraine in her new blue suit."
And that's what we did."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dr Gwyn Thomas, ex patient 1941

Dr Gwyn Thomas (centre) with his wife (right) and sister at the Patients Reunion

Dr Thomas is a retired consultant living in Norfolk. He was in Craig-y-nos for six months as a six year old in 1941. He was found to be a diptheria carrier and he was placed in an isolation hospital. His parents were forbidden to have any contact with him and the only way they knew if he was dead or alive was by consulting the local newspaper which carried a list each week of childrens progress.

It was Dr Thomas who first alerted us to the fact that gastric lavages were injected into guinea pigs.
If they survived then they knew we were cured!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mary Gordon 1955

Mary Gordon from Worcester rang. She had just received the newspaper cutting about the Patients Reunion and she said how sorry she was to miss it.

Mary was a in Craig-y-nos as a 12 year old. She was the eldest of three children and came from Neath and she has an extensive album from her time there. It includes a photo of the robin being fed on the bed.

She remembers Dr Huppert giving her regular skin tests to see if she had TB.
" She was very rough with my arms. I remember that."

Every Sunday, she says, we had ham for breakfast."It was lovely, I remember that. The rest of the food was not up to much."

Exhibition opening

Here are some photos sent in by my friend Karen Howard who happened to be in Wales on holiday at the time of the exhibition opening.

(From left to right) Valerie Brent, nurse at Craig-y-nos during the mid 1940's, Cynthia Mullan, director Sleeping Giant Foundation and Ann Shaw

( From left to right) Ann Shaw, Clive Rowlands,former Welsh rugby captain and ex-Craig-y-nos patient, Cynthia Mullan, director Sleeping Giant Foundation and Dr Carole Reeves, Outreach Historian with The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London.
Roy Harry, ex- patient, is on the far right.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Barbara Pye - 1945

Barbara Pye with her future daughter-in-law at the Patients Reunion.

Barbara was in the "Six-Bedder" in 1945 for nearly two years and it is believed she was one of the first to receive streptomycin during the first ever drug control experiment anywhere in the world!

Now a very glamorous 78 year old Barbara is also founder of Transmedia, the highly successful Swansea based internet company.

Exhibition- Friday

If you are thinking of going to the exhibition it is best to ring up on the day to check that it is open.
( 01639 843163)

I do know though this Friday it will be open all day and Valerie Brent, former nurse at Craig-y-nos during the 1940's will be there.

She is happy to talk to people and answer questions about the exhibition.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Exhibition - please ring beforehand!

Have had an urgent plea from Cynthia Mullan of the Sleeping Giant Foundation asking if people would ring the Welfare Hall before going to see the exhibition to check that it is open.

It seems that lots of people are turning up and cant get in because the Lesser Hall is also used for council meetings etc.
So - please ring in advance- the number is:
01639 843163

Or go on a Friday morning when the Friends of the Welfare Hall hold their regular coffee morning 10-12.30pm- in the Lesser Hall.
At least you are guaranteed that it is open at this time.

Don't forget you can see the exhibition online too:

Print- on -demand book

Just had an email from Dr Carole Reeves assuring me that a print-on-demand book is feasible and that The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine would be able to do this - providing we can find funding.

Familiar faces from the mid 1950's.

(From left to right) Anna Glass, Christine Bennett and Beryl Rowlands

These three were all teenagers together on the Ward 2 balcony in the mid-1950's. Here they are together meeting up again for the first time some 50 years later at the recent Patients Reunion at Craig-y-nos Castle.

Welsh cousin

I have just attended the funeral of my cousin whose step-mother had been sent home from Craig-y-nos in 1950 to die on the farm.

He spoke to me about it for the first time only a few months ago when I was down for the Hay Book Festival. It had been a lingering death of some nine months.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Welsh funeral

Postings may be a bit erratic over the next few days because I am off to a family funeral in deepest Wales with no internet access.


So many people have rung, e-mailed and written thanking us for organising the Patients Reunion that we have all been deeply touched and I thought it might be an idea to put up a few photos of what we look like for those who were not able to make the Reunion.

Malcolm Shaw (top) - husband of Ann and digital photographer/technician

Dr Carole Reeves, (centre) Outreach Historian, The Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London (centre)

Ann ex-patient (bottom) (1950-54)

Repressed Grief

And still the stories come rolling in of decades of repressed grief in the Welsh valleys...

Heard yesterday of a man who had never "got over" the death of his toddler in Craig-y-nos from TB some fifty years ago and wept for hours after a school-friend called unexpectedly to see him. It was the first time they had met since their schooldays. She had just been to see the exhibition" Children of Craig-y-nos" . She told him she had worked as a nurse in the hospital with the babies in the Glass Conservatory.

Digital Curator

Had to sign a form yesterday giving permission for the online exhibition,"Children of Craig-y-nos" to be archived in The Wellcome Library.

They also wanted to achive this daily blog only there is something in the construction of it that does not allow it. (Same thing happens with videos on You Tube- an American production company want to look at some of mine for television but they cant download them from the internet and want DVD copies).

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Patients Reunion- presentation

Mary Watkins ( nee Williams) making a presentation to Nurse Glenys Davies at the Patients Reunion.

Mary was tracked down after an appeal went out in the Brecon and Radnor Express. She was the one patient that stood out in Nurse Glenys Davies’ memory as making a dramatic recovery after receiving streptomycin. On her arrival in Craig-y-nos she was within weeks of death and Nurse Davies says her recovery was "like a miracle."

Do you have any photos from the Reunion you would like to share?
Then e-mail them ( and I will put as many as possible up on the blog.

(From left to right) Christine Bennett, former staff nurse, Nurse Glenys Davies, Beryl Rowlands, Mary Williams, unknown.

Links to Children of Craig-y-nos online exhibition

Here are some links to the Children of Craig-y-nos online exhibition:

BBC Mid-Wales

Craig-y-nos Castle

Have had emails from Arizona and California from ex-patients who have seen these sites.

(For all the links go to Google and type in children of craigynos. South Wales Evening Post have got some links too.)

The Wellcome Trust

Have just heard that The Wellcome Trust will not consider my application for a print-on-demand book for "The Children of Craig-y-nos" because the project is already half way through and I have received some help from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Well, the hunt is now on to find another publisher!...all suggestions welcome.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Welsh speakers: Valerie Brent and Beryl Rowlands

Patients Reunion: Valerie and Beryl in the courtyard of Craig-y-nos Castle

In preparing the exhibition “Children of Craig-y-nos” I had overlooked one major change that's taken place in Welsh culture since I lived in Wales.

That is the growing significance of the Welsh language. When I was in school Welsh was never taught. Indeed you did your best to get rid of your Welsh accent and some girls had elocution lessons to make sure they left school without a trace of it.

Well, I am proud to say that did not happen in my case and I still have a Welsh accent, albeit one mixed in with a touch of Glaswegian.

It was Dr Carole Reeves who recognised the significance of the Welsh language so there was a rush to get all the captions translated into Welsh.

Now I thought with this resurgence in the language it would be easy. Not so. While many people speak Welsh they are less happy to commit themselves to writing it.

Eventually with the help of Cynthia Mullan and the Sleeping Giant Foundation people were found who did the translations for us.
Phew!....we all heaved a sigh of relief.

But our troubles were only beginning....television stations and radio stations came on all wanting to do interviews in Welsh....could we provide them with people who were fluent Welsh speakers who had been patients and staff in Craig-y-nos?

Step forward Valerie Brent, a teenage nurse in Craig-y-nos during the 1940s and Beryl Rowlands ( nee Richards) a patient in the mid 1950s.

So a special “thank-you” to Valerie and Beryl for representing the “Children of Craig-y-nos” in the Welsh media.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sylvia Floyd (nee Williams) -1947-1952

"One of the best days of my life"

Dr Carole Reeves, Outreach Historian with The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine University College London says:

"I've just received a telephone call from Sylvia Floyd (nee Williams), who was in Craig-y-nos from 1947 to 1952. Although she approached the castle with some trepidation on 'Reunion Day', it turned out to be 'one of the best days of my life.' She came with her two daughters.

Many ex-patients have said that it's the first time their children and grandchildren have been able to share their experience of illness and hospitalisation. That's because this is becoming an important inter-generational project. Children identify with children across the ages -- no generation gap here! Some of you might consider going into localschools and sharing your memories with kids who might have been 'Children of Craig-y-nos' if we were still searching for TB's magic bullet (ie.

Roger Wyn Beynon -1949-54

Just received this email:

"My name is Roger Wyn Beynon and I live in Ammanford. I only learnt by chance of the reunion of former patients at craig-y nos last sat morning and unfortunately was unable to attend. I was a patient from, I understand, 1949 to 1954.

I fell down as a toddler and developed TB in my right knee as a result of having my records confused with another lad who was suffering from 'worms'. I hope they have cleared by now!!!

My memories are vague due to my infancy. I recall being wheeled to the Patti pavilion to see cartoons and, I assume, being educated as I was able to read and write when I started Primary school aged 7 not long after my discharge.

I well recall the balcony and being outside in all weather, the peacocks down below and a puffing steam train on the opposite slope. I thought it was my father coming to visit me as he was an engine driver!!!!

I also recall the injections in my bum. Was it 4 a day? Do you have any record of a boy called Graham Canning (I think)? He was bedridden beside me for a long time and is the only name that I can recall?

I am now 60 and visited craig-y-nos for the first time 14 years ago since leaving there."

I was very apprehensive and became very emotional when, whilst walking in the park below, looked up and saw the balcony and the statue of the stag. I have laid the ghosts and go back occasionally.

The last time was before Xmas last year when I attended a function there with my wife. I got speaking to a member of staff about my experiences there and was delighted to be shown the old children's ward. How small it looked and I was able to see where my old cot was located.

I did not realise how cramped we kids were until I saw an old photo on the web. I have a few photos of me taken in my cot on the balcony when I had more hair then that I have now!!!"

Delighted to hear from you Roger! we are very short of men coming forward with their experiences. Dr Reeves, the medical historian will be in touch with you soon for a full account.

Lung operations

At least once a week I go along for a swim, always careful to hide the 18 inch scar running down my back , a souvenir from Sully hospital some 50 years ago.

In the course of research for this book I have become more and more aware of the different types of treatments and operations we received.

Curiously, even ten years after streptomycin had been proved to be the only successful cure for TB people were still having portions of their lung removed.

And I was one of them.

I put the question to medical historian Dr Carole Reeves.

Her answer is blunt:
“Jobs for the boys.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sister Roberts (circa 1950s)

Sister Roberts niece, Eurwen Roberts, has just sent me an e-mail.

She says:
"I have just been on the computer looking at all the Craig-y-nos re-union photo’s.I cannot express in words how delighted I am to see a photo of Sister Roberts [circa 1950s] She is my late aunty.
You have certainly done a lot of work, where and when can I purchase your book? Thank You Regards Eurwen Roberts"

Well, the book is not published yet. We are still doing the research and we are very keen to make contact with all those members oif staff who worked there, or had relatives working there. There are some big historical gaps that need filling in.

"Auntie Maggie's" photos

Peter Gardener, a friend of Auntie Maggie’s son, rang to say he has a collection of photos belonging to Auntie Maggie.
He was asked to clear her house out when she died over ten years ago.

Says Peter:” I worked with Auntie Maggie’s son and he asked me to help.”

Auntie Maggie lived in Lower Panteg, Ysterfera behind the chapel. She had one son.

Peter added:”There are lots of photos of her with the children on the balcony and they wrote messages to her on the back.”

He is going to leave the photos in The Welfare Hall, Ystradgylais and Cynthia from the Sleeping Giant will collect them.

South Wales Evening Post -11 September

Another story about the exhibition appeared in yesterday’s South Wales Evening Post and with every bit of new publicity it brings forth a further surge of photos.

For those who do not want the hassle of posting them to me in Scotland could you please drop them off at The Welfare Hall in Ystradgylais with either Kath or Tracey and Cynthia from the Sleeping Giant will collect them on my behalf?

Many thanks!

New BBC web-site on Craig-y-nos

Ooops!...reason I couldnt find the latest comment on the BBC web-site is that they have launched a new one specially for the exhibition.

Go to:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Len Ley - local historian- "laying ghosts"

A special vote of thanks to Len Ley, the amazing local historian who took at least four, maybe more groups or ex-patients and their families around Craig-y-nos Castle on Sunday.

Len, a Blue Badge tourist guide, knew exactly what was wanted.
"You all want to see where your beds were... you want to "lay ghosts". My job today is to help you do that."

My last memory of Len on Sunday was of him escorting another group of very sprightly and smartly dressed women up the stairs to the derelict Ward 2 and Six-Bedder.

Thank you Len for helping to make Sunday such a great success!

Controversial comment- BBC web-site

A controversial comment posted on the BBC Mid Wales website is no longer there...what happened to it? I know the man who posted it said he had difficulty getting it "cleared" by the BBC now I see it has gone. He told us about it at the Patients Reunion on Sunday. Must chase that up to see what went wrong...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Patients Reunion - Sunday

Well, it was a fantastic success! everyone seemed to enjoy it . We reckon around 110-120 people turned up. We had two sittings for the carvery.Initially we thought this would not be such a good idea because we wanted everybody to sit together but it turned out to be the best solution because while one group had their lunch the other group were abale to go on guided tours around the castle with Len Ley, the resident Craig-y-nos historian.

The Castle did us proud, going out of their way to provide a first -class service and the food was delicious, well above the standard Sunday carvery. So, a big thank you to all the staff for making our day such a success.

The first in was Mary Davies from Rhayader, above Brecon, she had driven nearly 60 miles to get to Craig-y-nos, her first visit back. She was alone. And yes there were tears at first. It is Mary with her teddy-bear that appeared in the South Wales Evening Post on Thursday. And it is Mary , who was there during the mid 1950's who went on to have a bungalow built and called it"Craig-y-nos".

This led to some confusion when Mary booked a place at the carvery . She was asked her name then her address. She said "Craig-y-nos" and the hotel receptionist said:" No, not our address your address" and Mary repeated it:"My address is Craig-y-nos".

There are so many stories to tell that I can only skim the surface today before I head back to Scotland.
Star of the day was of course Nurse Glenys Davies now in her 80's and looking very well in an emerald green suit.

She was presented with a bouquet by Mary Watkins from Talgarth whom Glenys had told me about having been at death's door when she came into Craig-y-nos and was saved at the 11th hour by streptomycin.

Dr Williams daughter Mary Sutton-Coulson was there and she met the two girls Christine Bennett and Beryl Rowlands, who used to ride her ponies while she was away in boarding school.

One of the most touching tales of yesterday, and there wre lots and lots, was that of Winnie now in her mid-80s who had been placed in Craig-y-nos as a 9 month old baby and didnt get out until she was six years of age. She remembers having her cot wheeled outside into the open if she was naughty , sometimes all night. Unlike the balconies which had a roof on to protect the patients from the elements the very young children in the Glass Conservatory were simply wheeled outside. It was used for both the "fresh air" treatment and as punishment.

Her mother was only able to visit her twice a year because the family were "on the parish" and they would only pay for two visits a year.

Dr Gwyn Thomas, a retired consultant now living in Norfolk who was a patient in Craig-y-nos during the early 1940s was there too. He recalled how he was also a diptheria carrier at the time too and was moved to another isolation hospital. His parents were forbidden to make any contact with him and the only way they knew if he was alive or dead was to check the list in the local paper of children who had died.

Lots of photos were taken and over the next few days I will be putting them up on this blog when I get back to Scotland. Meanwhile here are two that June Harris from the Sleeping Giant Foundation took. She had planned to take more only the power in her digital camera suddenly went even though her camera had only just been recharged Another woman who had taken lots of photos at the Reunion found that when she checked her camera was empty.

( I had a similar experience last week when we spent a night in the Skirrid Inn, the most haunted pub in Britain ).

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Patients Reunion tomorrow

Just had a phone call from Sylvia who was in Craig-y-nos for five years from 1947 and will be coming to the Reunion tomorrow. We have worked it out that we were both there at the same time though she is several years older than me.

She says she was so excited last night after reading it in the South Wales Evening Post that she couldnt sleep. "I was also upset a bit too. It brought back such memories. I was a plaster bed patient."

Yesterday at the exhibition opening so many ex-patients came forward that we are all still reeling from the shock of meeting up with so many people that we have only spoken to on the phone. Pat from Yorkshsire, Dr Thomas from Norfolk and many from the area...

Carole Reeves recognised "Ann on BLocks" straightaway by her voice!....

Exhibition opening

Fantastic opening!
Clive Rowlands, rugby veteran,coach, captain of Wales and the Lions and ex-patient of Craig-y-nos TB sanatorium opened the exhibition yesterday. He talked frankly about his time there, being tied to the bed as a small boy for smuggling in a rugby ball. He remembered being force-fed potatoes to build up his weight and now since his heart surgery he is obliged to reduce his potato intake in order to try and keep his under control.
The television cameras were there to record all this: BBC Wales and S4C ( Welsh Channel) and we had ex-patients and staff doing interviews in English and Welsh. One, Beryl Richards ( nee Rowlands) ex -patient and Welsh speaking was taken back to Craig-y-nos by the BBC television crew for further filming.

One news item was on the BBC Wales News yesterday evening at 6.30pm - we watched it in the White Rose pub in Mumbles because we had just taken Valerie Brent, former nurse at Craig-y-nos, back home. Valerie had also done interviews in English and Welsh.

The South Wales Evening Post and the Brecon and Radnor Express were there too.
The BBC Mid-Wales internet community site also want to use more photos and they asked for permission. Told them to help themselves to photos from any of my web-sites.

Earlier in the week Beryl Rowlands had done a full half hour interview in Welsh for the Radio Cymru, BBC Welsh language station.

On Wednesday Dr Carole Reeves and myself rushed down to the BBC Wales studio in Swansea to do a pre-recording for the Jamie Owen show which was broadcast on Thursday at 11.30 am. We were interviewed by Sian Pari Huws. We listened to it while we were putting the exhibition up.

We don't like to say it ourselves but we did well!...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Crickhowell internet cafe

Have had another producer from BBC Radio Wales on the phone. They want to do an interview. Explain that we are already booked to do one tomorrow morning. Seems this is a different programme and they are not allowed to do another if we are already booked elsewhere.

Oh well,.... There is a Welsh television programme wanting to film the opening of the exhibition on Friday. Clive Rowlands, former Welsh rugby star and ex-patient of Craig-y-nos will be doing the opening. We had hoped he would be coming to the Reunion on Sunday but it seems he is needed in Cardiff. Something to do with the World Cup.

Mary Sutton-Coulson

Driving down the motorway from Scotland to Wales I ring Mary Sutton-Coulson on my mobile ( correction- I was the passenger, Malcolm was driving). She lives in Hampshire and hopes to attend the Reunion on Sunday.

We have had problems making contact because of her email system. While I can receive her emails she is unable to receive mine...never mind we have finally made contact.

Mary has come up with some surprising bits of information. Did you know that Joan Sutherland played Adelina Patti when the BBC made a film of her life?

-that Sister Roberts from the Glass Conservatory was a close friend of Dr Williams' family

-that Nurse Glenys Davies was among the members of staff who played badminton twice a week in the Adelina Patti theatre

- that Dr Williams first worked at Craig-y-pnos in 1936 then he moved to St Brides in London for the duration of the war returning to Craig-y-nos in 1948

- that Dr Williams was responsible for organising the restoration of the gold leaf on to the Adelina Patti theatre and he brought in craftsmen from St Pauls cathedral.

that Mary and her sister used to crawl through the attic of their home to watch performances in the Adelina Patti theatre.

Mary is a physio-therapist and her sister Ruth is a dentist.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Welsh speaker wanted!

Its gone midnight and I decided to have one final check of my email before leaving for Wales in the morning. Found a message from Beryl Richards ( nee Rowlands) saying she is happy to do the interview for the Welsh radio station tomorrow morning.

Also a message from Mary Ireland to say that she has booked for the Reunion.. At the last count over 80 had booked.

If postings on this blog become erratic to non-existent in the course of the coming week its cause I cant find internet access in Wales.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Susan Davies ( nee Evans) 1951-1952

Very few girls I was in Craig-y-nos with have so far come forward to be interviewed. Susan Davies ( nee Evans) is one of them.

Yes, Susan I do remember you and look forward to meeting up with you again next Sunday.

Patients Reunion- Sunday Sept.9th

Have had a word with the staff at Craig-y-nos Castle - so far 79 people are booked in.