Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Roger Wyn Beynon - 1949

Children were often wheeled outdoors during the day for the "fresh air" treatment".
Roger was in Craig-y-nos for five years.

How did you discover you had TB?
I fell down on the back steps as a toddler and hurt my right knee. I’m given to understand from old family members who are no longer with me, a lad in the area with a similar name was suffering from worms. So they treated me for worms and him for whatever they thought I had.

After a good few months of being shifted around various hospitals, I ended up in Craig-y-nos.
I certainly do recall being on the balcony in all weathers. Also I remember the peacocks, the park, the train on the far bank, and the injections of course.

Roger in the Glass Conservatory with his father
I was up there last Christmas at a function with my wife and I showed her the conservatory.I could picture where my cot was. That was nice.

Do you remember any of the children you were with?
There was a lad alongside me whose name I’ve carried all my life (Graham Canning), whom I thought was in an iron lung, but apparently, looking into the history, it would appear that it was a plaster cast.

What happened to your knee?
When I came out of hospital, I was in a calliper for a long time.
It was replaced when I was nine by a plastic cast. This was removed when I was about ten.
Seven years ago I had a replacement knee.
For the first time in my life, I’ve got a knee that looks like a knee.

Roger with his father

When I came out of hospital at aged seven, I certainly could read and write very well. I found my primary school was rather bland. Whether I was one of those snotty little buggers who knew it all, I don’t know, but certainly I got a grounding there (in Craig-y-nos), and for all of my life really.

Did you read a lot?
I’ve submerged myself in books and I think as a child that came to me in Craig-y-nos. My relatives would say that I was always in a book, so I think as an individual I lost myself, which is natural I would imagine anyway. Ever since then I’ve had a love of books, and Craig-y-nos certainly taught me independence.

I was independent in a way that I would think anybody who has been institutionalised for a while would be.
I think if I’d gone in like many of the other poor kids of about eight or nine upwards, it would have been a more marked effect, but what you’ve never had you never miss. I didn’t know any different.

Certainly I’ve played sports. The only thing I felt deprived of, as a child was that I was unable to correctly ride a bicycle. I did ride a bike simply because I wanted to but my right leg was sticking out all the time.

Craig-y-nos formed attitudes in me that I have to this day. I dare say as a teenage lad, like all boys who want independence and finding it suppressed, I did become very rebellious with a chip on my shoulder. That wasn’t so much at society but towards my parents.

I’ve always enjoyed a relationship with my father, but myself and my mother – it goes back to those days – that’s gone and it’s never going to come back. It’s not a sob story, that’s how it is.

Tell me about the day you went home.

I had a brother who was born while I was in hospital so coming out, I didn’t know who he was, and there was this other strange thing as well. I remember coming home – I don’t know how – but coming out of Craig-y-nos and it was a glorious summer’s day, and being on the lawn and having all these strange objects coming up to me and making a fuss. I realised afterwards that they were girls and of course I’d never seen a girl before.

I was very apprehensive. I’d never seen a girl so I’d assumed when I was in Craig-y-nos that it was just for the very young. As I say, the only person that I can recall is Graham Canning alongside me. Obviously, we didn’t move about. We were bed-bound all the time so I wasn’t aware of other children in the ward. It was only seeing pictures on Ann’s blog that I was amazed at how many were in there.

What effect did Craig-y-nos have on you?
It made me very independent. As far as the leg itself is concerned, I have a marked disability and I’m registered disabled. I have rheumatoid arthritis and the consultant told me that it was inevitable as a result of my experiences as a young boy. That’s how it is, you know. I don’t complain about it and just get on with it. The only thing I feel hurt and resentful for is that, growing up, I lived only in books.

Things were difficult on the domestic front (as a boy) -- I just wanted to get the hell out and see the world.
I left grammar school having passed my exams to join the Royal Navy as an officer.

Then I found out that I’d failed my medical as a result of my knee, and that was a real choker. It was the only thing I ever wanted to do was join the Navy, and unfortunately I was unable to do so. That’s the only legacy as far as the physical aspects are concerned.

Since the (knee replacement) operation I don’t get any pain. I suffered from pain for years and I wore a knee band constantly. I’m ok as far as the physical side is concerned. The mental scars I think have long gone and I feel myself very lucky to have survived.

(Roger ran his own engineering business)
I’ve enjoyed my life. I’ve got no cross to carry or anything like that. I’m very accepting. As I say, what you’ve never had you never miss. It’s pointless becoming bitter or twisted. What’s gone is gone.

I was in a partnership and when I was diagnosed with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) in 1995, I stuck it out till ’98 and I just couldn’t do it any more. My partners fleeced me in the last year I was on sick so I lost my business and virtually everything then.
At least I can look them in the face. They can’t do that with me.

On marriage
I’m quite content. I’ve got a good marriage and a lovely wife who is actually a psychologist and she’s helped me no end. She did her thesis on institutionalisation.

Dr Reeves on children’s emotional needs
"Roger told me that as a small child in Craig-y-nos, he missed having a cwtch (cuddle). I said that as far as the emotional needs of children were concerned, a lot of children said that they never got a cuddle. The nurses weren’t allowed to become emotionally involved with the children and they also kept some physical distance to avoid catching tuberculosis. Also, it wasn’t fully appreciated at that time how important it was to fulfil the emotional (as well as the physical) needs of children in hospital."

Roger Wyn Beynon was in conversation with Dr Carole Reeves, Outreach Historian with The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London. (Extract from interview).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sister Morgan and the poached egg

Sister Morgan

It’s strange how food can stir memories long buried.
Take fried eggs. I hate them, along with porridge.

But a poached egg?...well that’s different. Every time I eat one I think of Sister Morgan.

I had not been in Craig-y-nos long, perhaps a few months, certainly less than a year, when it happened.

We had been given a fried egg for our supper. Food by the time it reached us from the bowels of the castle, or wherever it came from on its long journey from the hospital kitchen to Ward 2, was cold.

So it was this particular evening the fried egg for my supper was not only cold but it had turned an unpleasant shade of greenish/blue around the edges.

I took an instant dislike to it and set about demolishing it in a technique I had perfected since my arrival in Craig-y-nos with food I didn't like, which was most of it.

I cut it up into small pieces then spread it around the plate thus creating the impression that I had made some attempt to eat it.

Those girls who were up could wrap uneaten food in paper and feed it to the swans on their next walk. Those on the balcony could stuff it down the drain, except porridge had a nasty habit of gurgling back up if it rained often which of course it does in Wales.

Having dissected my cold fried egg into many pieces all it needed was for a sympathetic member of staff to take it away. Nurses I knew from experience, wouldn't but orderlies, especially Mary, would. She took pity on us. Also she wanted to clear away all the plates so she could finish for the evening. Mine was the last as usual.

Would she or wouldn't she?
Mary took it without a word.

She had barely gone out of the ward when I heard the iron gates of the lift crash open.

Trouble. Big trouble.
Within seconds the loud, angry bellowing voice of Dr Huppert could be heard reverberating throughout the corridor demanding to know whose plate Mary was holding and ordering her to take it back.

I am in tears waiting for the return of the offending fried egg.

But instead in walks Sister Morgan a few minutes later brandishing a plate with a warm freshly poached egg and a piece of hot toast with some butter on it.

“Eat this!”
I do .
It tastes delicious. Why couldn't food always be like this I wonder trying to eat and cry at the same time.

Even today I cannot eat a poached egg without remembering Sister Morgan's simple act of kindness that evening many years ago.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Norma Lewis (nee Pearce) Inside Ward 2 -1953

Nurse Jones with Nanette


Norma with Jean Shakeshaft ( 1953)

Alice, Pat and Maraline

Photos taken inside Ward 2 are extremely rare so I am most grateful to Norma Lewis for supplying these.
If anyone can add more information then please email :

Norma was in Craig-y-nos for one year and reckons she came out worse than when she went in.
She remembers the nurses tucking us in at night and the ward singing "The TB Flushes".

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.”

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Patricia Stickler (nee Moore) and the "Patti ghost" -1950

Craig-y-nos viewed from the lake

Another e-mail has arrived from a girl who was in Craig-y-nos at the same time as myself.

Pat Stickler writers:
"I remember you coming in as you were the next newcomer after me and as I was teased about the 'ghost' it was now my turn to do the teasing but I was told you were too ill. At that time you were very quiet. "

Well the girl in the next bed to me, Dorothy Johnson, had no such inhibitions.

Less than a week had passed since I had been lifted from the mattress on the floor in my parents bedroom, next to a big coal fire, the only room in the damp farmhouse which my mother could keep warm, wrapped in blanket, one chill March afternoon, placed in the family car and taken over the mountains to this remote bleak castle in an area that seemed utterly desolate surrounded by high mountains.

Where where the fields of home ?
Mother had promised me I would only be there for three days. Already a week had past.

Ward 2 seemed enormous, I had never before been in a room so big nor seen so many girls much older than myself,and all the windows were kept open day and night allowing the wind to hurtle through as if taking a short cut in this valley from one mountain to another.

Once inside this freezing room where my toys had been whipped away on arrival, and I had been given cold lumpy porridge to eat, shouted at by staff who marched around the ward telling everyone to eat up and all this overseen by some strange person with a deep guttural foreign accent who looked neither man nor woman, my life had indeed taken some very unexpected turns since leaving the farm.

Ward 2 was scary enough in the day.
What could night time bring that was worse?
I was about to find out.

“I saw the White Lady last night” says Dorothy.
“She walks around the ward...all dressed in white.”

I am not surprised. So many weird and frightening things had happened to me in the past week that the announcement of some “ghost” walking around the ward in the night did not seem that unusual.

After all, anything could, and indeed did , happen in this place they called a hospital.

“She always stands at the bottom of the bed of the next girl who is going to die.”

“Where was she last night?”
“Bottom of your bed.”

I am alarmed.
Dorothy sees she has got my attention now .
“She started to walk up as if to touch you.”

I begin to cry, not too loud lest the other girls hear.

Dorothy must have decided she had over done it cause she added quickly:

“She walked away again.”

I am 9 years of age and coughing up blood.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Dressing -up" Barbara Pye - 1945-46

Arabian Nights?

It was not just the children who liked to dress up and create make-believe worlds.
This picture taken in the mid 1940’s from Barbara Pye’s collection shows that young women in the Annexe indulged in this practice too.

Barbara Pye is on the left.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Jeanette Wakeham, age 10, 1950-51

Entrance to the castle- some of the childrens wards

Jeanette , from Merthyr Tydfil, talks of her journey to Craig-y-nos as if it was yesterday.

“I shall always remember going into hospital. It was a horrible day, all overcast, and we had to take a bus to Brecon and another down the valley to Craig-y-nos.
The hospital looked such a strange building. I had never seen a place like that before.”

It was the first Thursday in the month, not that Jeanette knew the significance of that then. But she was no sooner settled in the ward than in came the Gospel Singers, for it was the practise in those days to give the children regular religious services once a month.

“They started singing and it was so sad. It just made me feel worse. I felt I had been dumped there. My mother had gone and there was no-one to turn to.”

Later she discovered the nurse who had admitted her that day had herself become a patient and was in the Annexe.
“She remembered me. She said “when I admitted you I didn't think I would end up here as a patient too.”

Gastric lavage
Jeanette recalls the day she had a gastric lavage, the fight she put up and how the “Enforcer”, Dr Huppert , was brought in.

Dr Huppert

“I fought the staff. One nurse held me while the other tried pushed “the pipe” down my throat. But I put up a big fight. Honest to God I put up a fight.

“So they sent for Dr Huppert. She was a formidable woman, she frightened me. She stood there and shouted while one nurse held me by sheer force and the other pushed the pipe down my throat.”

Not surprisingly she does not have happy memories of her time there.

She says it was a “bad experience”. Today if children were treated like that, says Jeanette, it would be considered abuse.

How did she come to be holding such a big teddy-bear?

“Well, it belonged to the girl in the next bed. ( Mary Morris from Rhayader ) Her uncle had brought it in for her for her 9th birthday and he photographed her with it then he gave it to me to hold. “

This girl befriended Jeanette and shared her visitors." It was a long way for my family to travel by bus and they could only manage one Saturday a month."

She did not get on with Sister Morgan and believes that for some reason Sister Morgan took a dislike to her. At one stage she found herself isolated at the far end of the balcony alone all day cause the other children were up and it was another nurse who finally moved her next to the French doors, on sister Morgan's day off, so that she would be within earshot of the girls inside the ward and at least have some company during the day.

“Sister Morgan was not pleased but she left me there.”

Hospital food
She found the food acceptable except for salads which she hated (“I still do!”) because they were always full of “creepie-crawlies”.

Out of bed
The time came for her to get up and she recalls that a nurse came along picked her up and put her in an easy chair and told her to sit there for half an hour. Then she came back half an hour later and put her to bed again.

Jeanette remembers taking the 11 plus "and failing”. She learnt to do embroidery and she remembers the green canvas bag we all got when Miss White, or rather Dr Huppert decided we were strong enough to have lessons.
( One day Miss White came to “test” me and she came to the conclusion that I had not reached any standard so I was left alone to read my books).

Walking in the grounds
Jeanette recalls the excitement of going out for her first walk in the grounds only to be stopped at the last minute by Sister Morgan who decided she had a temperature.
“I went back to my bed and cried. I was so disappointed.”

Later however she did go out for lots of walks and still talks of the day the swans chased them and they had to run back across the bridge.

I tell her Craig-y-nos is now a hotel specialising in ghost tours and weddings.
“Well I never saw a ghost all the time I was there.”

She recalls that the height of entertainment in the wards was listening to Donald Peers on the ward radio,going to concerts and films in the theatre. Oh yes there was Bonfire night too.

and at Christmas time carol singers from outside and sang around all the wards.

How did Jeanette get TB?
She had rheumatic fever as a child and one day her legs came out in big bumps. She was sent to the clinic and diagnosed with TB but she had to wait for nearly six months for a bed in Craig-y-nos.
She never had any treatment there except bed rest.

Speaking about her time there:
”It was not a happy time for me. That’s why it has stuck in my mind.
“There was no-one to comfort you. I know some folk have said to me I should have told my mother and father about what went on but what good would that have done? it would have made my life worse.”

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Peter Wagstaffe -(1940-45) day trip to the seaside

A day out on Swansea beach for the children of Craig-y-nos.
Peter Wagstaffe is on the right

During the 1940’s there is evidence in the archives that children were taken to the seaside though not one person has come forward who remembers it.

Until today.
Imagine my delight when I open the package of photos from Peter Wagstaffe to find one of him sitting on the beach!

Peter, who went into Craig-y-nos as a six year old, says in his interview with Dr Carole Reeves, of The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine:
“I can remember one instance in that five and a half years when they had a bus and those that couldn't walk they carried on to the bus, and took us down to Swansea beach for the day. I only remember it happening once all the time I was there.

“Our parents got to know about it and they were all down the beach waiting for us.”

Those of us who were in Craig-y-nos in the early 1950s will remember hearing the promise that one day we would be taken to the seaside.

There used to be endless discussions in Ward 2 about this trip to the seaside. Would everyone go, even those of us on blocks ?
Yes, we were assured all children would go. We would be wrapped in blankets and we would lie on the beach. We would be able to run our fingers through the sand , smell the sea air and watch the seagulls as they soared overhead.

It would be a day that we would remember for the rest of our lives.
Except it never happened. In the end summer past into winter and another summer came and went and so the years passed and we stopped talking about the “day at the seaside’ convinced in the end it was “just a story” like Adelina Patti’s ghost standing at the foot of your bed if you were going to die.

Whatever. We never got to the seaside.

Then in the course of research for this book I went through the Powys archives in Llandrindod Wells and came across Miss White’s school diary. Sure enough there are at least two entries:
:”School closed for day. Children taken to seaside.”

Now the interesting point is that Peter was taken to the seaside sometime in the early 1940’s yet the Adelina Patti school did not open until 1947. So it looks as if during the 1940’s this might have been, if not a regular annual event, something that happened from time to time.

So why did it stop?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brecon library exhibition-opening November 23rd

What macabre games are these girls playing?

Trawling through the photographs for the Brecon exhibition - opening on Friday November 23 in Brecon Library- I was struck by the sense of black comedy evident in the games we played on the balcony.

This photo comes from my own collection and I know that games involving murder were particularly popular.

There was one winter, either 1951 or 1952, when I recall being brought in from the balcony and I was astonished to find that the girls in Ward 2 had this evening ritual whereby they played “Murder”.

Florence played the judge, a position she was very reluctant to give up though other girls also had a notion to play this superior role.

Into the witness box, a chair placed behind the piano, would jump a whole series of girls, "witnesses" who were supposed to be on bed rest, and they would be grilled endlessly by Florence. One of the most popular witnesses, if I remember correctly, is the girl in the bottom photo, the one praying.

At the time she was supposed be on strict bed rest, not even allowed to wash herself, yet each evening throughout that long winter she would leap out after lights out and be in the witness box.
The verdict was always the same:
and the sentence the same: "Execution at dawn.”

Then she would go back to bed and we would all fall asleep.

(Incidentally, where did that big carving knife come from?)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gareth Wyke 1953-58 (5-10 years of age)

Gareth Wyke: early days in Craig-y-nos

and five years later...

Gareth says:
"Having read other peoples accounts reminded me of the metal cage that was over my legs and under the bedclothes.

When I was older, I was a bit ashamed about being in a cot like the
younger children, but my behaviour did not warrant being
with the older boys.

I was mad about cowboys and used to devour western comics-Kit Carson was
my favourite: he had long blonde hair,which I craved for.

The only toy I remember was a golliwog called Golly which I was
inseparable from, but to my parents surprise, I gave to one of the young
children when I left.
I was feeling very grownup!
My father brought the bow tie."

Gareth became a PE teacher, played rugby until he was 50 and lives in Stourbridge, West Midlands.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gareth Wyke 1953-58 (5-10 years of age)

Gareth in his cot receiving the "fresh air"treatment

Brecon and Radnor Express July 4 1958

Gareth sent in the following newspaper cutting from the Brecon and Radnor Express, July 4 1958 .
It relates to the presentation of a television set to the childrens ward donated by members of the Ynisderw branch of the British Iron and Steel and Kindred Trades Association at Pontardawe Steel Works.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jeanette Evans nee Wakeham -1950

Jeanette (centre) with two young friends.

Yet another girl from my time in Craig-y-nos has turned up on email - thanks to her son Steffan Evans .

He did a search on the web after seeing an article in the local paper about The Children of Craig-y-nos project.
Imagine his surprise when he came across this photo of his mother, Jeanette, on the web.
It's from my own collection.

We were on the balcony at the same time. Now I am going to get into contact with her... she lives in Merthyr Tydful.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Del Barnes ( nee Watkins 1951)

Shirley Osbourne (early 1950s)

Del Barnes emailed to say she couldn't make the reunion but she wrote the following:

"I was in out on the balcony of Ward 2 in 1951:

I remember they put me next to a young girl called Shirley Osbourne, she was on a plaster bed, and little did I think that 4 years later I would be back in hospital with TB of the spine and would myself land up lying on a plaster bed.

Do you remember the doctor (Huppert)? She was very short and was foreign, she was a bit of a tarter, as was the Sister (Morgan). I have quite a few photos of my time there, of the girls and some of the staff. I always remember the rain falling on our beds as the big tarpaulins held the rain.

It’s funny really although Craig-y-nos was rather a grim place you seem to only remember the comradeship of the girls you were with.

Streptomycin had not been out very long, and PAS always made me sick.
When I was in Cardiff with my spine the doctor told me that it would have taken far longer to get well if strep didn't suit me.
It seems to me that we were in the hospital about the same time, as for how long I was there, I don't think I was in there a year, its funny I can’t remember that.”

In an earlier email Del wrote:
" The staff nurse at the time was Glenys Maud Davies, and I remember receiving the letter to go there on my 15th birthday. I was to be admitted 2 days later.
At that time it was perceived that if you went to Craig-y-nos you would not come out of there. I went from a very loving family to this asture castle, and was not allowed visitors for 5 weeks.

Staff Nurse Davies was from Fforestfach, where I lived, and she looked after me as I was very homesick, the rumour was that Madam Patti huanted the wards, and you can imagine how scared I was never having been away from home. 
I really could go on for ever discussing the time i spent there.
I hope to come to the reunion on the 9th Sept. You have brought back so many memories.- delphine watkins.(as I then was)."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Glennis Ealston from Yorkshire and Molly Beechey from Scotland

How about this for a coincidence?

I have just learnt that Molly Beechey from Blairlogie , a small village about ten miles from my home in Scotland, attended Craig-y-nos as an outpatient in the 1940s and remembers Dr Williams.

Moreover we have known each other as distant acquaintances for a number of years having attended the same art classes together and last New Year we were at the same New Year’s Eve party in Blairlogie village.

Yet neither of us were aware of our shared Welsh history.

How did I discover it? Well, this e-mail arrived from Glennis Easlton in Yorkshire:

“ A cousin of mine from Port Talbot (found only last year!) sent me details of the Craig y Nos exhibition as I intend to visit the area next week.  My grandfather was in the hospital in 1945 and only returned home to Port Talbot, to die of TB.
He was only in his 60's, and had lost his wife at the age of 46, three sons in their early 20s, and two infant daughters. They all died in Pontadawe, but I know my grandmother had also been in the hospital, but returned home to nurse her sick sons. Brinley only survived his mother by 3 months.  My mother survived and lived to be 88 years, but a post-mortem revealed that she also had had TB.

"Like so many of your other contacts, she seemed unable to talk about her family, and would not return with me to the valley and show me her birthplace.  I only found my Welsh cousins last year. My grandparents were Edwin and Hannah Ford and lived in Alltwen, Pontadawe. My grandfather only moved into lodgings near his brother after all his family had died, and his daughter (my mother) left to nurse near London.

"Another coincidence.  A close friend of mine, Molly Beechey, attended the Craig y Nos hospital when she was a child, with suspected TB, and I sent her the web site. You share mutual friends.  She also lived in Ystradgynlais as a child but now lives in Blairlogie.”

Well, I don’t know who was the most surprised- Molly or myself!

Oh yes, the mutual friend we share is Lys Hansen, my artist mentor over the years.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shirley Osbourne and Mair Edwards

Shirley Osbourne and Mair Edwards

Does anyone remember these girls? Mair came to an early meeting in Craig-y-nos this year and I have been trying to contact her ever since.

Now I have had a request from Pamela Hamer who would love to know the whereabouts of Shirley. They were both in Craig-y-nos together with TB of the spine.

Pamela says
I have been looking at the photos of the children in Craig-y-nos and I saw my dear friend Shirley Osbourne.
I would love to know how she is, the last I heard was that she was married and had a baby boy. Auntie Maggie the nurse saw my mother in town back in the early sixties and told my mum that news. I would love to find her.

We both had TB spines and we were together for years.”

Pamela added:"The night before I came home she curled my hair with dinky steel curlers I looked a right mess in the morning but I thought I looked great!"

If you know anything about Shirley then contact Pamela at:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sylvia Moore (nee Peckham)

Sylvia Moore ( nee Peckham)
It was the teenage girls on Ward 2 balcony who were the most inventive when it came to dressing-up.
This is Sylvia , from Rachel Davies' collection.

Sylvia later went on to nurse at Craig-y-nos and organised a reunion earlier this year. We are trying to contact Sylvia in order to do an interview with her but we are having difficulty with her email. So if anyone reading this knows Sylvia could you please ask her to contact either myself ( or Dr Carole Reeves ( phone 0207 679 8135

"Charlie Chaplin" -1950's

How did we pass the time?

Here’s part of the answer- dressing -up.

This was not an activity confined to the teenage girls but one practised in the Annexe too.

The young woman dressed as Charlie Chaplin later died .

( From the collection of Rachel Davies - nee Morgan-1951-53.

Monday, October 15, 2007

RENEE (nee Griffiths) BARTLETT -1945-46

Renee, age 10, with her sister.

MEMORIES OF RENEE (nee Griffiths) BARTLETT aged 6 -7 years as a patient at Craig-y- Nos Hospital in approximately 1945.

Discovering I had TB
"I became unwell aged approximately 5 years of age suffering from frequent bouts of tonsillitis which eventually was also diagnosed as pleurisy. My grandmother was rather concerned and persuaded my mother to have me checked by the family doctor.

He referred me to a clinic in London Road Neath. From there I was referred to Cimla hospital where I had many ex rays and a shadow on the lung was diagnosed. My mother was advised to keep me in bed for complete rest. This she found very difficult and eventually they recommended I be admitted to Craig-y-Nos sanatorium. My parents took me there by bus which consisted of one to the centre of Port Talbot, one to Neath and then one to Ystradgynlais.

Introduction to life in Craig-y-nos
I spent over a year there only seeing my parents on the first weekend of each month. The lady in charge of my ward was a Sister Morgan who was very, very strict. If she had her way she would have stopped all visiting as she thought it upset the children too much. She also could not understand why my parents gave their welsh daughter a french name.
I remember some patients were out on the veranda even in the middle of winter but I was never put there.

End of the war
There was great excitement on the day they announced that the war was over, we had a pillow fight and I fell out of bed and had a nose bleed.
On one of the visits – my mother brought be a tin of welsh cakes and biscuits which had to be shared with all the other patients on the ward. I remember there was one chocolate biscuit which was left for me but the last child before me took it, I was very disappointed.
Another visit I remember was my mother's brother Roy and his girlfriend Molly. They were allowed to see me even though it was not the fIrst weekend of the month because they were on leave from the forces and were in uniform. They brought me a banana, which I had never seen before, it was delicious.

The fIrst weekend in November 1945 my father came to visit me on his own. The reason he gave for my mother not being able to come was that she had been shouting at my sister Jean and had dropped her false teeth and broken them. The real reason was that she and my sister together with my grand mother my aunt Edna, and Evelyn had gone to Taunton in Somerset for the wedding of their brother Roy to Molly.

I remember going in to the theatre at Christmas time to receive a gift from Father Christmas. I was given a sock which had an apple, a tangerine some nuts and dried fruit in it. I also remember having a doll there but when I left the hospital I was not allowed to take it home with me.
The abandoned child
I can only remember one other patient there, her name was Lorna. I do not remember if she was older or younger than me but she had been abandoned there. No one ever came to visit her.
Other memories
Other memories I have of Craig-y-Nos was taking walks in the garden and feeding the swans on the lake. Sister Morgan taking me to her room on the top floor and sitting at her dressing table watching her brush her very long hair which she kept tied up in a bun under her sister's hat.

Renee ouside her home, age 10.

Attempt to run away from Craig-y-nos
I do not ever remember being mistreated but I wasn't very happy being away from my family. I would ask my mum and dad to take me home every time they visited me. Anyway I devised a plan to run away from the hospital and persuaded Lorna to come with me. I used to hear a clock striking the hour at night and about the same time each night and a bus stopping outside. I convinced Lorna we could get on this bus and it would take us home to my mum and dad. I used to watch the nurses each night settling us all down to sleep and turning off the main lights. Sometimes they would leave the fIre escape door open. This one night everything seemed to be going to plan and I tried to make my escape dressed in my PJ's dressing gown, slippers, with my toilet bag in one hand and my doll tucked under my other arm. I persuaded Lorna to follow me. Needless to say we only got as far as the fire escape when we were caught.

I must have caused quite a stir, but the only punishment I remember was being put in a straight jacket and having to explain to my mum and dad when they came next to visit me.

Going home
I think I did come home fairly soon after that. The day I left I was allowed to sit in the window to watch them arrive, Lorna was with me but she was ordered back to bed. Her reaction was to tell my dad that Sister Morgan was a bloody cow. I have never heard from her since that day.

Stigma of TB
There was certainly a stigma in admitting you had TB. My own mother would never admit it; she always insisted that I had not had TB, that it was just a shadow on the lung. The whole time I was at Craig-y- Nos I did not receive any treatment that I can remember only tests.”

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pamela Hamer ( nee Osmond)

Pamela ("I had a rat in my bed") " has sent us some more information about herself.

"I had a TB spine when I was 7 went and went into Craig-y-nos 1947.

I came home in 1950 but couldn't go to school as I couldn't sit for long or walk far. My body support was awful and at 17 years of age I threw it out, and I felt good.
That move changed my life.

In my twenties I got married and had two daughters, and I am now the proud grandmother of three."

Well done, Pamela!

Pat Stickler (nee Moore) 1950

I've had an email from a girl who was in the next bed to me over 50 years ago!
She recognized some photos on the web.

Here's an extract:
"I was also in Craig -y -nos from February 1950 until June 1950. I was one of the lucky ones who did not have a long stay there although, at the time, it seemed endless. As you say, treatment at that time was bed rest and fresh air.

I remember the balcony with the tarpaulin covers and also one time when the weather was so bad that all the beds were brought into the ward and all the windows had to be kept open.

During my stay I was in the next bed to Ann Rumsey, was that you? I immediately recognised the face in the photographs on line.

I came from Caerphilly and it was a long journey by train and buses for my gran, mother and father to visit, although it was only one weekend a month.

My mother, aged 93 died in July and it started me thinking of all the travelling they did and decided to visit Craig- y -nos but, unfortunately, we missed the turning but vowed to try again another time. Since then I have found your web site and decided to write to you.

I was never happy there and felt that not speaking Welsh did not help. Maybe it was my imagination. The food was not very appetising but perhaps I was spoilt.

Every morning there was porridge which by the time it reached the ward was cold and lumpy and to this day I am unable to cook, smell or even wash the used dishes."

Yes, you are so right about the porridge Pat. Not only was it cold and lumpy but I had to have stuff that looked like sawdust sprinkled on mine because I had such a poor appetite.

BBC web-site

Here are some recent contributions to the BBC community web-site on Craig-y-nos:

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

Hilary Jones, Swansea
My Grandmother died of TB at Craig yr Nos around 1935. Annie Mary Lloyd.She had to be taken away from her 3 children who were only about 8,10,and 12 who never saw her again.She died after being there for about 3 years. She was only in her early 30s. It must have been hell for her.Does anybody have any information about her? Or photographs dating from this time.
Mon Sep 10 08:08:55 2007

Catherine Smith, Pontardawe
I recently had the pleasure to stay at craig y nos with some friends and family to take part in a ghost tour.It is such a beautiful castle with so much history but also sad for the children that died there. I would like to go back as I feel there is so much more history to this worth knowing. It was humbling reading these comments of people who were at the castle either working or residents.
Thu Sep 6 15:00:45 2007

Pamela Hamer, Swansea
I was in craig-y-nos from 1947 to 1950 on a plaster bed out on the balcony. Some nurses were lovely, the one I liked the best was aunty Maggy. Some were strict, and my parcels were opened and items removed. I remember having my nose held because I didnt like my medication. And my lovely hair cut off up to my ears I was very upset. I remember Dr Huppard She looked like a man and she asked my parents if she could adopt me. I was nervous when she came on her rounds. I remember my friends Shirley Osbourne and Joan Hubbard, I will never forget them. I couldnt wait to leave that hospital. But I was only a child at the time.
Thu Aug 30 09:15:33 2007

Jane Freeland, Southampton
I was a spinal TB patient for about 5 years (1943 to 1948), first briefly in Wales (my parents called it Cowbridge - it was near Cardiff), and then in Yorkshire, at the Marguerite Hepton Orthopedic Hospital at Thorp Arch, near Wetherby, Yorkshire, for the rest of the time. Eventually, surgical techniques and the magical streptomycin enabled me to recovery fully. I'm now 67, and like you I feel there's a story to be explored. Like you, too, I've found it almost impossible to find records of people involved. In the case of 'my' Yorkshire hospital even the building has vanished under new bui! lt houses. I was thrilled to hear that people at the Wellcome Trust are interested in your idea for a book, and sorry to read some of the negative reactions to your desire to approach the topic. It seems to me that those of us who survived lived through an important part of medical history - quite an achievement - and can help to highlight forgotten bits of it.
Mon Jul 23 17:10:17 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sylvia Williams (nee Floyd) 1947-52.

"My story" by Sylvia Williams

I was admitted to Craig – y – nos in 1947.
It may have been a wonderful Castle in wonderful grounds with beautiful views  of the Brecon Beacons but I was 11 years old, very ill and miles from home and my Mother.
I was confined to my bed for the next 4 years, not allowed to go to the bathroom nor the toilet.
Not allowed to sit in the chair while my bed was being changed, the nurses did a wonderful   job of rolling  me on one side while they put the sheet on one side of the bed; then roll on the other side  to bring the sheet around that side. An almost impossible task.
Tuberculosis was a killer disease. Many of the girls in my ward where sent home to die.
There was no medication.  TB antibiotics wasn’t even a word.
The only cure was absolute bed rest , fresh air , and good food. We must remember that in 1947 it wasn’t long since the war had ended, so I am sure that the food we where given was the best we could have had.

I had five cavities in my lungs and about 1948 I had to have part of my lung removed. I went to Morriston hospital for this, and Dr Danino did my operation (Dr Dan) I think I was in Morriston for three months.
When I returned to Craig-y-Nos Dr Hubbard and Dr Williams were the Doctors.

Artificial Pneumathorax
Every week I had to have Artificial Pneumathorax.
Dr Huppert

Dr Huppert was the lady doctor to do this for me she was a very harsh woman. Austrian. I dare not think about shedding a tear or crying . While she did this painful procedure .
It consisted of inserting a thick needle between my ribs on my left side , to go through to my lung , it was attached  to a pipe and air was pressed into my lung.
I wouldn’t have been able to speak or move if I did not have this done.
I had to have it every one or two weeks for the next three and a half years.
Occasionally (about every six months) I was taken to the Grove Place Chest Clinic in Swansea for an x-ray to see Dr Glyn Lewis. I was never told any results of those x-rays.

Patients Reunion
There was no one else ever in my ward that had this same treatment , and when I attended the reunion on Sunday 9-9-2007 I was remembered by a few of the women for this very thing, I had to have this Apparatus every two weeks.

Adjusting to life in Craig-y-nos
Settling into hospital live was very hard, but you have to realise this is what you had to do. Visiting was only allowed on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month from 2 PM 'til 4 PM . It was terrible when my mother had to go. Every Sunday my mother took a brown carrier bag to the bus station in Swansea and paid 2/- for a ticket for that bag to bring on the bus to Craig-y Nos , and every Sunday about 2 o’clock I could watch from the window and see the bus driver bring my brown paper carrier bag into the hospital.
Its was exciting because every week my mother would be sending sweets , chocolates and half a dozen eggs (which the nurses would cook for my breakfast) or mix up into a glass of milk (long before the days of salmonella of course) I might have new pyjamas of maybe new slippers . Always a book. I felt very lucky.

Sister Morgan with children

The Staff
On ward 2 where I spent those five years. We had lovely staff Nurse Glenys Davies was a beautiful , fun loving nurse and did everything in her power to make us happy. Sister Morgan was our ward sister. Auntie Maggie was Ward Auxiliary Nurse .

Dr Ivor Williams

Ward 2
The wards were meticulously clean . Every day our lockers were washed , floors were brushed washed and polished .

I spent five Christmases in Craig-y-Nos and every year my mother would a fill a large suitcase with presents and goodies , and in the middle of the night the night nurse would put every case by the side of every girls bed .
Father Christmas would come on Christmas day and we all had a gift ( father Christmas was the hospital dentist ) .
On Christmas day Dr Williams came to each ward to carve the turkey on the table (  Dr Williams and Dr Hubbard where both resident at the hospital).

The balcony
I had to spend the summer time in the ward, and the winter time on the Balcony. The children on the Balcony had to have a tarpaulin over their beds because during the winter snow and rain swept in on to the beds . Our Christmas dinner often had to be sheltered from the snow .

Long Round
Every Wednesday we had “Long Round” .
  Dr Williams , Dr Hubbard , the matron and the sister came to the ward and came to each bed and looked at our chart to read our temperature and our pulse and whisper about us , ask us how we were , smile , and move to the next girl.

Harry Secombe touring the hospital wards after a concert

Once a month there was a concert in the wonderful theatre. Harry Secombe was a constant act that came.
I was taken in a Wheelchair. It was a wonderful evening out, and if I was really, really honest not so much for the concert, but more for the fact that I was leaving my bed and leaving the ward.
We had to have school lessons in bed too. Miss Thomas and Miss White  were the teachers. Mornings only. Because we were mixed ages in the ward we more or less had
individual homework to do every day.  I remember Miss Thomas had me to enter a
Hand writing competition, and I won a Conway Stuart Fountain Pen. (long before the
Biro came into our lives
We had a firework display every Bonfire Night  and everybody came onto the balcony.
Of course it was the winter so I was already out on the Balcony.

Some of the boys on the balcony
Boys balcony
The boys ward was immediately below us and I used to send notes tied to a piece of string over the balcony to Godfrey Boniface. I considered him to be my very first
boyfriend, in actual fact I don’t think that I ever saw him. I used to shout to him over the balcony. I was tied to my bed so I guessed that he was as well . Then the sister would come and shut us up.

How we passed the time
During my five years in Ward Two I am not going to say they were “ the happiest days of my life” far from it , but they were not miserable days either , we were all in the same boat , all missing our families .
We had wonderful nurses looking after us. There was no television in those days , and every Sunday night sister Morgan allowed us to listen to Donald Peers and he played music similar to top of the pops I would think . You’d be surprised how exciting Donald Peers and that Babbling Brook could be.

At the time  I had pen pals from all over the world , one pen pal was in Australia and she would send me a parcel of tin fruit . It was wonderful . I don’t think we could have had tin fruit in the hospital in those days . I shared it with the others in the ward. But always a tin for my mother to take home .

Getting up
After I had been in bed for four years , they must have decided now is the time when I should start getting up. Initially I had to just sit in the chair for 15 minutes . It’s a frightening thing to do , after all those years of me promising myself the first thing I was going to do was to go to the bathroom . I was unable to walk , my knees could not hold me.  Eventually after about three weeks I was walking properly and could go outside to see the grounds of Craig-y-Nos which were wonderful.

Dr Huppert in pensive mood

Year later
It was almost another year before I was allowed home . Streptomycin was here and I was one of the first patients  to be given it. It saved my life .
So on the final “Long Round” Dr Williams told me they were going to send me home. I couldn’t believe it . I wrote to my mother and in huge letters across the page I wrote “ I CAN COME HOME ” I was now sixteen.

T.B. some facts, fiction and half truths....

Because TB was never spoke about many of us who were children in Craig-y-nos have gone through our lives holding some very strange beliefs and in considerable ignorance of some basic facts.

Here are some:
Top of the list must be the belief that gastric lavages were a "treatment" , not a test to see whether one was "negative" or "positive".

Neither did we know that the contents of our stomachs were given to guinea pigs nor that if they lived then we were cured.

Some children believed their parents didn't love them - that's why they didn't come very often. The very young children didn't realise visiting was allowed only once a month.

Most children were unaware that adults got visitors every week. ( I was there four years and never knew this until I did research for this book).

Drinking infected milk led to bone TB not lung TB - I lived on a farm and had assumed all my life that I had caught it from drinking contaminated milk.

Many didn't realise until seeing the photographs that some children were tied to their beds.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kayla Rigney from Arizona, USA

There's a growing international interest in this project as shown by emails like this one from Kayla.

"When and where can I purchase your book?

I live in Flagstaff, AZ, US, which was at one time considered a “san in itself” by lungers. (It still is by those suffering from certain lung diseases. I speak from experience.) I read the BBC article about The Children of Craig-y-nos Exhibition and went directly to this website... I’m blown away!!! This history is so important — and nearly lost and yet, inclusive. I was so deeply touched.

PLEASE keep the exhibit up online. It’s so valuable!!!"

Thank-you Kayla for your interest and support. Don't worry when the book is published we will let you know.

Gareth Wyke 1953 -58 (age 5-10 years)

Here’s the remarkable story of Gareth Wyke who spent 5 years as a child in Craig-y-nos with TB in the bone and went on to become a PE teacher playing rugby until he was 50!

He lives in Stourbridge, the West Midlands, and he sent me the following e-mail:

“My sister recently sent me a copy of your article in the ‘Brecon and Radnor’ dated 30th August,2007 regarding the reunion of former patients of Craig-y-Nos sanatorium.This awakened many memories of my time as a patient there from when I was five in  1953 until 1958 when I was ten.

Silence within the family
Nothing much has been said ,within my family, of my time there ,so my memories are very sketchy and incomplete.

Catching TB
Apparently, many  children from my home town of Talgarth contracted bovine TB from the milk of an infected cow,which the owner then buried to hide the evidence.

I was lucky in that the only part of me to be affected was my left knee.Why I was a patient for so long,I do not know,but I was , eventually, cured by streptomycin.
I do not remember feeling ill or being in pain before I was placed in hospital,or even the journey and being left alone.

Memories of Craig-y-nos

My first bed was in the mixed conservatory, before I was moved, years later, to the small adjoining aviary  ward which was boys only.

My leg was plastered and placed in a calliper, which had a wheel similar to a cotton reel at its end which I used to scoot along when I was older and more rebellious.

My behaviour was not good: in earlier days I was frequently tied to the bedhead bars by a restrainer and was not moved out with the boys but kept with the younger children.

However, my mother was told that I was very good with the babies and toddlers; in that I used to look after them and keep them entertained.

Fresh air treatment
We were wheeled out on the balconies for fresh air treatment.Often, the tarpaulin which covered the bed was sprinkled  with snow.

The staff
The only people I remember were the terrifying Dr Huppert, the stately and gentle Dr Williams, a nursing sister from Mountain Ash, a pretty nurse who used to give me bed baths (much to my embarrassment) .

Other boys
I remember two brothers with the surname of Kiernan-may have been John and Michael or Robert.

John had very swollen joints and at least one of the boys disappeared, never to be seen again.


There was also a teacher who just seemed to sit on a bed reading Enid Blyton stories, whilst I slid under the bed whispering ‘pink petticoats’ .

‘Shadow the sheepdog’ was a particular favourite.This was when I had been moved to the aviary.I do not remember much education going on, but when I left I was above average reader and writer.

The plan to escape
Whilst in the aviary, we often used to plan an escape. During the night we were to go down through the garden over the river and across the mountain opposite, but we always fell asleep before it was time to go!

Not that I remember being unhappy very often. The worst times were when my parents, mostly my father, didn’t come on visiting days-I was unaware until now that they were only allowed once a month .

I used to watch expectantly when other visitors came through the door and down some steps into the conservatory and if no one came I used to hide under the bedclothes and hide until the visitors had gone.

I realised later that it was very difficult, both logistically and financially (there were five other children to feed and clothe),to get to Craig-y-Nos fromTalgarth, but at the time I felt very unloved.

Other bad times
Other negatives were: tubes slid down your throat, injections in the bottom, the less frequent, but excrutiating ‘injections in the knee and lumpy porridge and tapioca or sheeps eyes as we used to call it.

Good times
Other memories include film shows in the theatre and the time I was placed on a pony in the grounds by a gardener and it bolted for a short distance. I didn’t fall off but I didn’t know who was more frightened, me or the gardener.

How the Craig-y-nos experience affected him

“I think my time in hospital definitely effected the person I was to become.
I relate to words and phrases such as ones you mentioned, like'lost childhood','loner','self reliant','independant' and could also add
'anti-social (sometimes)','unloved',and 'persecution complex'.

When I arrived home I had a new sister I'd never seen before and she used to cry and say I wasn't her brother.

Howver,despite having 'matchstick legs' and being teased by new classmates I made a full recovery becoming a PE teacher and playing rugby until I was

I hope this is of use to you-it has been a useful exercise to me.”


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Christine Perry (nee Bennett) with Beryl Richards

Christine (left) with Beryl

Christine has provided us with one of the biggest collections of photographs so it was a pleasure to meet her and her husband, Larry, at the recent Patients Reunion.

Afterwards Larry sent this email:

"Thank you so much for providing the focal point and inspiration for so many people to enjoy their day. For many, I'm sure, it was a milestone event in their lives quite literally. I'm sure many ex-patients would endorse the efforts you, your husband and, also, Dr Carole Reeves have put in to removing the shroud and veil from events in their lives which many of their friends and families were convinced were exaggeration and hyperbole.

Hence, the reason for the personal walls of silence for most parts of ex-patients' lifetimes. The curtain is raised now on the spectre of tuberculo-phobia!!

A small group on our table, Beryl , Christine, Anna & Valerie Brent, have arranged to do "Coffee" in Verdi's down in Southend, Mumbles, one day in the not too distant future. So now regular contacts could be maintained locally perhaps.

Christine and I went up to the Miners' Welfare Hall in Ystradgynlais today to see the photographic exhibition and very good it was too. Congratulations and thanks are due to you and your husband once more for your sterling efforts there.
Christine was keen to make an entry in the Visitors' Book but the staff there say that it has been removed already. I feel that I should let you know that.

Once more, many thanks on behalf of Christine."

Rachel Davies (nee Morgan) 1951-53 (18 months)

Rachel having a bed bath

Staff nurse Wilkes.....remember those white tin washing bowls which were always badly chipped?

Rachel from Pontadawe has sent in a fascinating collection of photographs from her time in Craig-y-nos as a young woman in the Annexe .

She was there for 18 months.
The first thing that strikes me about the photos is that they have pictures on the walls!
I note she also had a radio with headphones.
We had nothing like that in Ward 2.
In fact we had nothing.

For the regime in each ward varied according to the Ward Sister in charge.

And life in the Annexe looked relaxed, cheerful and friendly.
And the windows are closed!

Dr. Huppert with some of her "girls" - 1946

Here's a photo to stir some memories!
Dr Huppert is in the courtyard of Craig-y-nos Castle with some of her girls. Amongst them is Barbara Pye (far right) who very kindly sent us a large collection of photos from her time in Craig-y-nos.

It is interesting to note that young women were allowed to walk out through the front door into the courtyard. This was strictly out of bounds to children.

Sister Roberts 1952-53

Eurwen Roberts, the niece of Sister Roberts emailed me to say that Sister Roberts, passed away in 1959 at the comparatively young age of 50.

She says:
"My auntie was at Craig –y-nos from 1952 to 1955 leaving there to go to Mardy Isolation Hospital Merthyr. She would always come home to stay with her sister in Llanwrtyd Wells and then she would come and visit us as she was my fathers other sister.

My recollection of her was that of a very kind hearted and caring individual who always gave generously to her 2 nephews and 2 nieces.
I was very interested to read that Mary Sutton-Coulson remembers her. What kind of patients did auntie nurse in the Glass Conservatory? I followed my auntie into the nursing profession.

I also note her comment regarding the Dr Williams family, I would imagine that auntie would show great respect towards the medical profession at Craig-y-nos."

Brecon exhibition: Children of Craig-y-nos

Great excitement!
Cynthia Mullan of the Sleeping Giant suggested I should approach Brecon Library to ask if they would be prepared to show The Children of Craig-y-nos photographic exhibition because they have excellent facilities.

So I did.

The staff were very co-operative and are more than happy to have the exhibition there.
The dates are: Friday November 23rd until Christmas.

I will be showing more new photos from amongst the collection now standing at around 1,000 .

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sequel to "rat in the bed" - Pamela Osmond

Pamela has just sent this email:

"The rat in my bed was in 1948 I was on a plaster bed and I had a steel cradle over my legs to keep the weight of the blankets off my legs, I was 8 year old and it was a cold night I was woken up by something moving around by my feet and all of a sudden this rat ran out from under the blankets passed my face and the tail touched my face it was not small as the body rubbed against my arm on its way out.

I was so scared that I called "Nurse, nurse. nurse" and I was crying so a nurse came running to me and between sobs I told her about this rat in my bed, and she was very calm as she told me a story about the rat she said he was the hospital pet and he had been in the kitchen for his food and he wanted to see me.

She stayed with me for a long time, she was lovely.
After that night I lost my fear of rats.
We used to throw crumbs of bread for the birds, so maybe the rats would get onto the balconys looking for food."

Elaine Wellington - mid 1950's

I wonder if anyone remembers Elaine Wellington ? ( first little girl on the left )
Her niece, Kaye Forsey, has been in touch with us to see if she can find anyone who may know something about her aunt's earlier life in Craig-y-nos.

Elaine now lives in Australia and has never talked about her time there until recently after treatment for cancer.
Her niece ,Kaye Forsey, says:
"During her time in hospital it 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...she is just wrapped in a blanket all day and will not do anything."

Pamela Osmond 1947- 1950 - "rat in the bed"

We have had several accounts of rats in the wards including one of a rat jumping off a table on to a bed but this is the first case of one in the bed.

Pamela Hamer (nee Osmond) says:

" I would love to visit Craig-y-nos on the 9th of September I feel that I must go there, although I also feel nervous, I havent been inside that building since September the 13th 1950 that was a wonderful moment in my life I have loved the number 13 ever since.
I was on the balcony for 3 years on a plaster bed with a TB spine.
I had nothing to pass away the time.
I can remember playing I spy with my little eye. We used to get fed up with that. We didnt have many sweets or toys as our visitors were searched on the way in.

Once a month was visiting, sometimes the month would fall into 5 weeks.
I can remember eating my toothpaste so I could taste the peppermint flavour.

Sister Powell was so strict I was afraid of her. Some nurses were lovely.

There were rats that would be on the balcony in the night, I had a cradle over my legs to keep the weight of the blankets off my legs and one night I felt something in bed moving around by my feet and I started to call and shout for a nurse and it was a rat in my bed it ran out past my face I couldnt move as I was strapped to my plaster bed.
The nurse calmed me down by telling me it was the hospital pet. I believed her as I was only an 8 year old child at the time. "

Pamela tried to get to the Reunion but had to turn back because of a major crash on the M4.

James Albert Pridding

Many sons and daughters who had parents who were in Craig-y-nos would like to find out more about their time there.

Here's one such email from G. Pridding:

"I believe my father James Albert Pridding was a patient sometime before 1937 with TB. He was very secretive about this time but I should be like to know if there are any records of him at Craig-y-Nos."

Sadly there are no official records for these have all been destroyed long ago. Hence this project to fill in the missing historical gaps.

Delphine Watkins (1951)

So much information comes in on email these days about Craig-y-nos that I thought it would be interesting to share some of it with you.

Here's one from Delphine Barnes ( nee Watkins)
“I was a patient at Craigynos in l951.
The staff nurse at the time was Glenys Maud Davies.
I remember receiving the letter to go there on my l5th birthday.
I was to be admitted 2 days later, at that time it was perceived that if you went to Craigynos you would not come out of there. 

I went from a very loving family to this asture castle, and I was not allowed visitors for 5 weeks, staff nurse Davies was from fForestfach, where I lived, and she looked after me as I was very homesick.
The rumour was that Madam Patti huanted the wards. You can imagine how scared I was never having been away from home.  I really could go on for ever discussing the time I spent there.
You have brought back so many memories.”

Monday, October 08, 2007

Nurse Cissie Myers

 Does anyone remember a nurse by the name of Cissie Myers?
Her daughter Sharon Whitlock is anxious to find out if anyone can remember her mother.

Her Mum has since died but she would love to try and fill in the gaps in her mother’s early history.
She says:

"When we were younger she used to talk about the hospital and now she has passed away I would love to get to know more about the background of it and maybe even find a book about it, when I went to the castle I asked at the reception if there was a book on the castle when it was then a hospital, they told me there wasn't and I was quite disappointed.

Every time I go past the castle I say to my husband “that's my mums home.”
I know my mum had a rough life when she was growing up, but she used to always talk about the hospital in very graphic detail.
I have always been interested in the history behind the hospital.  I would just love to know if anybody remembered my mum and what she was like then. 
I loved my mum so much and every time we go past the castle I can imagine seeing my mum standing by the entrance.

When my husband and I went inside to look around I went into the theatre and I just stood there and cried. I felt so moved and touched I could feel the presence of my mum there. That’s why this means so much to me.
If you do remember my mum or anybody that you know that was in the hospital at the time my mum was a nurse there I would really love to hear from them has it would mean the entire world to me.
Even by sending this e-mail to you I am in tears because I think only you would know how I feel. There's a part of my mum's history I would love to know more about and maybe even get a glimpse of a photo of her when she was there.
Please can you help.”

If anyone can remember nurse Cissie Myers please get in touch:

I have passed this on to Nurse Valerie Brent who may also be able to help too.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Anna Glass' photographic collection late 1950's

Who is this girl and what is she doing?
It comes from the photographic collection of Anna Glass who was in Craig-y-nos during the late 1950's.

If you have any information then I would be delighted to receive it.
I note that she has a vase of flowers, lily of the valley, on her locker, yet another sign that the sanatorium regime had relaxed by the mid 1950's.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

California calling!...Marlene Hopkins

"that's my bed behind Shelia Halford. I was known as "Marlene on blocks"."

"here I am standing behind Dr Huppert. I am on the right"

The phone rings.
Malcolm, my husband, answers it.
An American voice says:

“ I was in Craig-y-nos with your wife.”
“ Really? You don't sound Welsh.”
“I am Welsh and I speak Welsh.”
“Where are you ringing from?”

I grab the phone.
“Who are you ? when were you in?”
“My name was Marlene Hopkins . I was in from 1953 to 54. I was known as “Marlene on blocks.”
That’s my bed on blocks in the photo of Sheila Halford.”

From time to time out of pure nostalgia she taps Craig-y-nos into Google and she was amazed to discover my blog and to see a photo of her bed and another of herself with Dr Huppert.

Marlene always wanted to be a nurse and even in Craig-y-nos she used to keep a diary which noted her daily temperature and pulse.
After training she went for further studies in midwifery to the University of Chicago.
(I tell her I was in Chicago as an exchange student seven years ago at the School of the Art Institute).
We can't believe our paths have crossed again after all these years - Craig-y-nos - Chicago - and now the internet!

Yes we were in hospital at the same time though neither of us can remember each other partly because Marlene was a few years older than myself and she was inside Ward 2 while I lived out on the balcony.

These two tiny communities (14-20 girls inside and 8-10 outside) lived separate lives for years on end though we were physically only yards apart.

She remembers Sister Winnie Morgan -”very militaristic....a cold person, no warmth there, only once did I ever see her smile and that was the time she told me that I would be going home”.

And other staff:
“Thank God for Auntie Maggie and Nurse Glenys Davies. They were our surrogate mothers.”

How did she pass the time? “I had a stamp collection and I wrote letters and I kept a diary.”
Snap. So did I.

As for Dr Huppert “I remember her heavy accent and the way she used to drag her leg . Dr Williams was wonderful.”

Yes Dr Huppert frightened her but not as much as the ward bully. Neither of us can remember her name but we think it was Valerie, a physically big girl and a bit older than the rest of us.( One day she punched me real hard. I remember that.)

Marlene reminds me that Auntie Maggie and Nurse Glenys Davies used to bring in catalogues so that we could choose gifts for our families. They did our shopping.

Marlene recalls that the food was :”not up to much except on Sundays. I put on 20 lb. while I was in there.”

She was fifteen years of age when she went in and later she was moved to the Six-Bedder. Among the names she remembers is that of Norma Pearce, who has already been in contact with me.

Looking back on the experience she says it made her self-sufficient:” I can be on my own and enjoy myself just reading a book.”
Yes, it did help to develop inner resources.
“I did miss out on my teenage years. I grew up differently. I had a twin sister and I couldn't do the things that she did.

Now aged 70 Marlene has lived in America for over 45 years.

She’s been married for 43 years with four children and five grandchildren and she still retains family links with Wales.
“If you ever had another Reunion let me know and I will be there.

“I don't have bad memories of my time at Craig-y-nos though I do remember that I used to worry after x-rays and tomograms . I knew I was there for a purpose and that was to get better.”