Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Brian Jones - hospital staff names

Brian Jones , whose mother worked at Craig-y-nos, has sent me a list of hospital staff names too. He reckons that 62 out of the 83 in the above photo have died. Have not yet cross-checked all the names against the list supplied by Roy and Glenys but hopefully they should be the same.

It would be interesting to know if any of the staff had relatives, or friends, who worked for Adelina Patti. My own, very tenuous connection, was through Ethel Rosate-Lunn, the poetess of the Tawe Valley who was a family friend. She had worked as a domestic for Adelina Patti from 1909 to 1914.

If anyone can add any more information about the people in the above photograph then please either ring me ( 01786) 832287 or email:
or Dr Carole Reeves (02076) 798.135: email:

Front row L-R
Doug Powell, engineer
Mrs Meikle, SEN
Staff Nurse Stella Anthony, née Price
Sister Hodge
Sister Betty Lewis (Phil's aunt)
Miss Sullivan, Deputy Matron
Dr Huppert
Matron Knox-Thomas
Dr Ivor Williams, Medical Superintendent
Sister Powell
Jenkin Evans, Dentist
Sister Gwyneth Lewis
Sister Betty Lewis, née Pugh
Sister Pearl Watkins
Staff Nurse Sheila Price
Patey Taylor, SEN
Edgar Davies, head gardener

2nd row
John Barrows, Y Grithig, engineer
Getta Hibbert, SEN
Joyce Cox, Aux
Mrs Helen Williams, Pwllcoediog Farm, Aux
Glenys Waters, Student
Beatrice Beamish, née Jones (Penwyllt), Student
Nancy Jones, Aux
Gwyneth Jones, Aux
Nancy Perrier
Ina Hopkins, Medical Secretary
Euryl Thomas, née Evans, Medical Secretary
Margaret Williams, Danyrogof Farm, Student
Gladys Samuel, Aux
Mrs Lucy Thomas, Crai Waterworks, Aux
Gladys Jones, Aux
Diane Hughes, Student
Val James, Gwyn Arms/Glanhaffes, Student
Hannah Williams, Aux
Mrs Bates, Penwyllt, Aux
Mr Lake, chef

3rd row
John Heavens, porter
Mrs Mellings, Dom
Elizabeth Gwen Bannister, Dom
Miss Annie May Ellis, Dom
Hilda Lewis (Ken's mother), Dom
Mrs Harvey, Aux
Mrs Jones, Aux
Dolly Jones, Aux
Mrs Turner, Aux
Mrs Margaret Heavens, Domestic Supt
Mrs Pugh, Dom
Marjorie Morris, Dom
Mrs Smith, Dom
Mrs May Morris (Sim's wife), Dom
Maggie Preece, Kitchen
Mrs Bryn Davies, Kitchen
Mrs Marion Williams, Kitchen
Mary Dewenna, Kitchen

4th row
Cliff Bannister, porter
Alwyn James, porter?
John Cashmore, plumber
Mrs Donovan, Dom
Margaret Williams, Aux
Gwen Alexander, Laundry
Mrs Olive Morgan, Dom
Gwen Roberts, Dom
Maggie Thomas, Dom
Mrs Powell (Penycae), Dom
Dilys Gwilym, Dom
Mrs Rodriguez (Gabriel's mother?), Dom
Mrs Edgar Davies, Laundry Head
Miss Emberton, Sewing Mistress
Miss Daniels, Sewing Mistress
Dai Richards, Tafarn-y-Garreg, chauffeur
Jack Walters, painter

Back row
Ken Lewis, stoker
Sid Evans, porter
Arthur Hales, Callwen Farm, gardener
Daniel John Price, Pwll Coediog Farm, gardener
Raymond Rees, painter
E Williams, carpenter
Sim Morris, gardener
Trevor Jones, painter
Gareth Morgan, Pentre Cribarth Farm, porter?
Elwyn Williams, Maesyreglwys Farm, gardener?
Hubert Francis, porter

Patricia Jones ( nee Morris) late 1940's

Patricia Jones from Neath rang me this morning. She had "googled" Craig-y-nos and she wanted to tell me that she too was there as a very young patient in the late 1940's. She was so small that she remembers very little about it except that her mother gave her a " a beautiful big doll then it vanished".

"They told me I was in a cot but I have no memory of it. Apart from the doll I remember nothing."
Her family moved around a lot because her father worked on farms and he went where there happened to be work. She knows at some stage she was also in Newport House, Almeley near Hereford.
Whether this was directly after Craig-y-nos or she was home for a time and went back in she has no recollection except:" I know I was in both places."

She remembers a little bit about Newport House which she was in during 1952 because it had "no doors, nor windows". It was in fact a stable block converted into a sanatorium.

Looking back on her lost childhood she says:"You block out so many things that happened to you."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Caroline Boyce (nee Havard) 1949-51

Caroline:" It is hard to imagine that anyone was left unchanged, even to a small degree, by such an extraordinary experience, often at a formative time of life."

Memories of Craig-y-Nos

Ny name is Caroline Boyce, née Havard, and I was born in Brecon on 23rd November 1940. I am married, and have a daughter and a son and three granddaughters. I was a patient at Craig-y-Nos from November 1949 to July 1951, so was there for twenty months.

I have only recently been able to pinpoint the exact time I was in hospital from a diary kept by Mary Slater, one of my contemporaries there.

Getting diagnosed
Before being admitted to Craig-y-Nos I can remember being taken to the doctor with shiny lesions on my shins, which the doctor diagnosed as erythema nodosum, a symptom which indicates that infections are present in the body. I was then taken for consultations and X-rays in a first floor surgery in Brecon quite near the Watton Pitch, after which Dr. Williams diagnosed pulmonary TB. I recall my mother reacting tearfully, and feeling very helpless and confused myself.

Arrival in Craig-y-nos
I have little recall of actually going to Craig-y-Nos, but I think that my mother and I were taken to the hospital in a black car driven by a family friend. I was put in the top floor children’s ward (girls only), with windows overlooking the front courtyard and the main road, and the grounds at the rear of the castle. I got to know these views very well – I was in the same room for my whole stay.

On visitors days, when we had reached the stage of being allowed out of bed, we would stand at the windows waiting for the visitors to arrive and would wave and call to them before they were allowed in at 2 pm. I remember that it seemed to take ages from the time they entered the front door until they arrived up at the ward. The two hour visiting time seemed to fly by.

Inside Ward 2
I think that the ward itself was painted a neutral colour, and contained eight to ten iron bedsteads, possibly more. There was a large wooden table in the middle of the room where we ate meals once we were allowed out of bed. As far as I remember there were no beds on blocks in the ward, no pictures on the walls, and I cannot remember curtains at the windows, flowers or plants. The floor was shiny and brown and was polished regularly by a quiet, pleasant woman wearing a well-washed pink and white striped overall. Was her name Annie? She had a large tin of liquid polish which she placed in dollops on the floor with a stick before attacking the floor with a buffer hinged on a very long handle. I do not know how the room was heated, and cannot remember feeling especially cold. Apparently when I returned home I did not appear to be affected by cold weather, so perhaps I was acclimatised to low temperatures by then!

My treatment seemed to revolve around bed rest and eating, although the only food I can remember is porridge, which I hated – it was grey and contained crunchy bits which I likened to nail clippings. I still do not like porridge. I seemed to be in bed for a long time before I was allowed up for the first stage of half an hour a day, progessing to one hour and then on to a full day in one hour stages. When the two hour stage was reached we were allowed to wear day clothes – a great excitement. Unfortunately for me I was a bit too active when I was first allowed up (I remember dancing and singing) and my temperature shot up. I was put back on full bed rest for a while.

Caroline out walking in the grounds with some young friends

At a particular stage (3 hours?) I was allowed to go downstairs to visit the older girls’ ward and balcony, and then out into the grounds for walks which became longer and longer. This progression in activity was decreed at the regular Ward Round, where the staff led by the doctor moved from bed to bed reviewing each child’s progress. I can remember children crying when they were not allowed up, or when their hours up were not increased. Every day, regardless of what stage of treatment one was at, there was a rest hour, during which one had to try to sleep or at least remain still and silent on one’s bed. I don’t think that I ever had gastric lavages, although I can remember seeing white enamel kidney basins and long red tubes in a treatment room. We were periodically X-rayed, I think every six months. It was a very tense experience because so much seemed to hinge on the results. The little X-ray room on the ground floor, not far from the theatre, was bleak and cold.

The staff
They varied – Dr. Williams was a kind of god, Dr. Huppert was terrifying, Sister Morgan stern but kind. One nurse I remember with mixed feelings was Betty Rowe. I believe she came from Ystradgynlais. I realise now that she must have been a young auxiliary, but she seemed very powerful at the time. I was frightened of spiders, and one day she put a dead specimen in my bed. At other times she could be relaxed and quite kind.

The Patti ghost
She sometimes talked about Adelina Patti’s ghost wandering the corridors of the castle, which fed my terror of the plaster room along the corridor from the ward – it was a big walk-in closet where unused plaster beds were stored upright, and in the gloom they looked like large, grey/white, misshapen figures. Whenever I had to pass the room I would hope that the door would be shut, and run (which was forbidden) past as quickly as I could if it was open.

Teachers Mrs Thomas and Miss White

Memories of other staff members, both domestic and nursing, have been jogged by seeing their photographs recently, and these are generally good ones, although I never felt particularly close to any of the staff. Recollections of the teaching staff are few and far between – the two teachers, wearing blue overalls, appeared sporadically with sheets of simple sums and a choice of books to read. There appeared to be no plan or system of education, and the little work we did was collected without comment and never returned. I can remember doing a lot of drawing, reading anything I could get my hands on, and writing letters and stories , in my own time. Twenty months of little or no education left its mark. Although I passed the 11+ to Brecon Girls Grammar School some months after returnng home, I only just scraped in. I managed to redeem myself a little as I progressed through the school, but missing years of maths education left me sadly below standard in this area particularly. I also found the discipline and routine of a formal grammar school education difficult to accept after so many months of sparse, poor quality schooling.

Mary, Ann and Caroline

Although I have little recall of specific interaction with other patients, I can remember the feeling of companionship in the wards. The girls in my room were generally younger than me, I think, and I always enjoyed being able to go down to the ward below to visit the older girls, including an acquaintance from Brecon, Mary Davies (now Slater), who was in my ward upon admission and had been transferred downstairs, and Ann Rumsey (now Shaw), whose mother sometimes gave my mother a lift to the hospital on visiting days. I envied the girls on the balcony. Although exposed to the elements they seemed much freer, and had wide panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. There was a low cliff face a little distance from the balconies, and it was rumoured that a man was once seen jumping from it to his death. Walking with a group of girls in the grounds was a special delight. I can’t remember whether we were escorted by an adult, but it was marvellous to escape the confines of the ward, go down the terraces and across the bridge to walk along the paths through the trees and rhododendron bushes to the lakes. I think I can remember a small, wooden summerhouse in the grounds somewhere, and swans on the lakes

Memories of Christmas are hazy, but I can recall parcels on my bed, and unpacking a little tin tea set. I do remember being uncomfortably aware that I had more parcels than some of the other children, particularly Sybil, a traveller’s child with dark unruly hair and very dark brown eyes, whose bed was opposite mine. (I can remember her arriving at the ward with her parents, who seemed terrified and reluctant to leave her. They hovered by the door weeping, while Sybil cried frantically and miserably. When they entered the ward they brought with them a strong smell of wood smoke). I can recall going down to the theatre for a show, but I’m not sure whether it was a Christmas pantomime – there was lots of singing and laughter.

Pyschological impact
Overall, my memories of Craig-y-Nos are of long periods of seemingly- endless boredom, but when I was discharged I missed the companionship of the other children and felt lonely at home. My parents bought me a radio for my bedroom, and this established a listening habit which has never left me. Upon returning home I was made to rest during the day for some months, and was not allowed to play games at school for several years, so was consequently disinterested in, or inept at, any team games. I can understand other ex-patients when they say that they were “a bit of a loner”, “emotionally vulnerable, but self-reliant” upon discharge, and I felt a certain dislocation from my family, who I think found me “difficult” when I returned home. The whole experience turned me into quite a detached person for many years, and sad though it sounds, I think that for the remainder of my childhood I expected everything and nothing from adults – a good coping strategy.

My career
Upon leaving school I trained as an occupational therapist, married – young and happily – had two children, and then retrained as a teacher. I combined the two disciplines and taught children with two categories of special needs, cerebral palsy and autism. It is easy, looking back, to see where the roots of this career path lie.

Looking back
I have never spoken much about my time at Craig-y-Nos, even to my family, and it has been an interesting and enlightening exercise to write this account, and recently to see so many photographs and records of other people’s time at the hospital. Individual memories seem to vary widely, but it is hard to imagine that anyone was left unchanged, even to a small degree, by such an extraordinary experience, often at a formative time of life.

Staff at Craig-y-nos

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

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

Nurse Glenys Davies

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

"Auntie Maggie" Mrs Williams, nursing auxiliary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sylvia Moore, ex patient, nurse

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

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

The staff in this photo comprise the following:

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

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

Total: 82 people

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

Monday, January 28, 2008

Last photo of staff at Adelina Patti hospital - 1960

Front row ( left to right)

Doug Powell engineer, Mrs Meikie SEN, Stella Price nee Anthony,

Sister V Hodge, Sister Betty Lewis
Miss Sullivan -Deputy Matron

Dr Huppert, Matron Knox Thomas, Dr Ivor Williams Medical Superintendent

Sister Powell, Jenkin Evans - dental surgeon

Sister Gwyneth Lewis,Sister Betty Lewis - nee Pugh
Sister Pearl Watkins,

Staff Nurse Sheila Price, Patey Taylor SEN, Edgar Davies Head Gardener

2nd row
John Barrows - engineer, Getta Hibbert SEN, Joyce Cox Aux

Glenys Waters - student nurse, Beatrice Jones - nee Beamish student nurse

Nancy Jones - Aux.,Gwyneth Jones - aux, Nancy Perrier Aux

Ina Hopkins, medical secretary, Euryl Thomas - nee Evans Medical Secretary, Margaret Williams student nurse

Gladys Samuel Aux, Lucy Thomas Aux, Gladys Jones Aux

Diane Hughes student nurse,Val James ( Gwynne Arms) student nurse

Hanna Williams Aux, Mrs Bates Aux
Mr Gilbert Lake - chef

3rd row
John Heaven, Head porter, Mrs Wellings domestic
Gwen Bannister domestic, GlynTawe

Annie May Ellis domestic, Abercraf, Hilda Lewis domestic ,Penycae, Mrs Harvey domestic, Yniswen

Mrs Jones domestic, Abercraf, Mrs Dolly Jones domestic, Nantcaerefail, Mrs Turner domestic, Yniswen

Margaret Heaven, domestic supervisor, Mrs Pugh domestic Colbren, Marjorie Morris domestic, Yniswen

Mrs Smith domestic Colbren, May Morris domestic kitchen staff, Maggie Preace domestic kitchen, Yniswen

Mrs Davies domestic kitchen, Marion Williams - domestic kitchen, Yniswen, Mary Duvenas domestic kitchen, Abercraf

4th row
Cliff Bannister porter,Glyntawe, Alwyn Jones , porter Penycae

John Cashmore, plumber, Yniswen, Mrs Donovan domestic, Yniswen,

Margaret Williams, Aux. Ystradgynlais, Gwen Allexander, laundry.

Olive Morgan, domestic, Gwen Roberts, domestic
Mrs Powell, domestic, Penycae

Dilys Gwilym, domestic, Yniswen,
Mrs Rodrigues, domestic

Mrs Edgar Davies head laundress Pencyae ( married to Edgar, head gardener)

Mary Emberton,sewing mistress,Ystrafera
Miss Daniels, sewing mistress , Ystrafera
Dai Richards, chauffeur, John Walters, painter

Back row:
Ken Lewis boilerman stoker, Sid Evans -porter

Arthur Hales gardener, Daniel John Price gardener

Raymond Reece, painter, E. Williams carpenter,

S Morris, gardener,Trevor Jones painter, Gareth Morgan porter,

Elwen Williams, gardener, Hubert Francis porter.

Background information

I am very grateful to Nurse Glenys Davies for naming all the members of staff and to Roy Harry for organising this research.

If you are wondering why Nurse Glenys Davies is not in the above photograph it is because it was her half day and she had gone down the valley. However, she knew about the group photograph but decided "in a fit of peek" not to take part because the Ward Sister had accused her of doing something she had not done.

Neither are the two teachers, Miss White and Mrs Thomas, there because the children had already been moved to the South Wales sanatorium in Talgarth.

For the last two years the Adelina Patti hospital was a nursing home.

(Photographer TT Davies)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Roy and Glenys

Roy Harry

Nurse Glenys Davies

I have just received from Roy Harry (ex patient 1940's) a full list of all the staff names from the last photograph to be taken at Craig-y-nos Castle just before it closed. He has been working with Nurse Glenys Davies to put a name to all the faces. Now we have a complete list. I know that this has involved lots of other people helping too and I am most grateful.

This list along with the final photograph forms an invaluable social record.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Riding the doctor's ponies (mid 1956-57)

Pam riding Lady

The teenage girls from Ward 2 used to slip away and ride the ponies belonging to Dr Williams' daughters, Ruth and Mary, while they were away at boarding school.

This was yet another example of how the sanatorium regime, especially for some teenagers after the introduction of life-saving drugs, was viewed quite differently in the mid 1950s, and it is reflected in this account by Christine Bennett.

Christine's story:

"We weren't allowed over the bridge. That was meant to be the limit of our wanderings. Lady, however, was restricted to the other side of the bridge in the woods and around the big lake where there were swans. As the bridge was clearly visible from the hospital, crossing it was risky. However, it didn't stop us from crossing it to ride Lady but we had to be furtive!!"

Beryl with Tosca

" It was a lot easier in the Summers. The river level was lower which meant that, if we went down past the tennis courts, we could ford the river without being seen from the hospital . When on the other bank, then we could move up through the woods without being seen from the hospital. That way, we could get to ride Lady and access the lake to see the swans without getting caught!!"

Friday, January 25, 2008

Horace Batts - 1933

Powys Archives, Llandrindrod Wells

I am grateful to John S Batts, retired academic living in Australia, for furnishing me with background information relating to the family of Horace Rees Batts, a cousin of his fathers from Hay, who died in Craig-y-nos. Some of this information is already lodged with the Powys Archives.

It offers a rare insight into the minutiae of life in rural Wales during the 1920’s and 30’s when the “white plague” was rampant and it was common to have an “invalid” living for years in an upstairs bedroom.

Horace had a younger invalid sister, Gertie, who kept a diary.
“Horace, afflicted by TB, went to stay at Adelina Patti Hospital. Craig-y-nos, Pen-y-cae, Swansea,” Gertie wrote one day.

(Indeed, even as late as the 1950’s this was not that unusual in rural Wales: I had a severely crippled aunt who became bed bound in her early 20’s and lived until she was into her 60s cared for at home by her family- Ann).

John found a series of postcards from his elder sister, Tillie, to Horace at Craig-y-nos when Tillie seems to have been in Bournemouth.

Here is one extract
--“Hope you had the parcel safe, & hope you are feeling stronger, I was out yesterday & went to look for the pen, but the shops was closed, you shall have it the first chance I get, I expect you had some books this week & wondered where they came from, it was the chauffeur’s wife that sent them, hope you had them alright.

The mystery chauffeur with friend/partner -Hay early 1930's.

(A subsequent letter from Horace to his sister stated that he was still waiting for the books to arrive. Did the medical staff in fact confiscate them on the grounds that he was too ill to read them?)

It was later to become the job of “Tillie” (Matilda Batts 1889—May, 1975), who lived at 3 Smallbrook Cottages, Heol-y-dwr, Hay to look after her bedridden father, George Batts, after the death of her mother, Sarah, as well as caring for the bedridden younger sister, Gertie, sister of Horace.

(Again, this was a common practice of the spinster daughter being obliged to become the full-time carer for her relatives, thus sacrificing her own life.- Ann)

By family repute Gertie was always a bit delicate, and she was one of the three children in that branch of the family – 9 children born! -- to survive to adulthood.

As a teenager she belonged to The Girls’ Friendly Society, and also played the piano. John in Australia has inherited some of her inscribed sheet music of songs from the 1914-18 war.

In her early twenties she was diagnosed as suffering from some disease – John thinks it may have been an acute form of rheumatic fever.

“There may have been a touch, also, of that very Victorian malady, neurasthenia. Either way, she took to the life of an invalid and occupied the upstairs front bedroom of that house all the time that I knew her. Her body, needless to say, became frail and her fingers, especially, grew to be misshapen. For all of which, she was extremely interested in the family, including her mother’s family (Rees) from Solva, Pembrokeshire. Gertie was wonderful at remembering birthdays and sent Christmas presents to me and eventually to my own children until almost the end of her life. She loved visits from family and Hay friends, too."

John had not been aware of her diaries until sifting through his father’s papers.

“Bed-ridden for most of her life, hers may well appear to have been a wasted life,” says John.

The diary contains major gaps in the entries, but most list house calls from relatives, friends, and Drs. Tom Hincks & Hughes.

Gertie wrote:
“I been in bed ill from Aug. 24th. 1923. Hoping to be up very soon”
The 1925 diary records little or no reflection, the entries being stark, but perhaps interesting from a social perspective.

“Miss Lewis from the Castle called”

“[Hon.] Miss Gladys Bailey, Castle, called to read for me this afternoon” (19 Jan). [“Bailey” was the family name of the Glanusk baronetcy (created 1899).]
“The Rev. [J. Jefferys] de Winton came to read for me” (Long-time vicar of Hay, then living at Belle Vue, the large house at the head of Broad Street. This is interesting to me because Gertie and her family were Non-conformist; her sister Tillie had been a Sunday school instructor at the Baptist Church in the Bull Ring for about fifty years before she gave that up.

“The Hon. Mabel Bailey [of Hay Castle] called.

“Lady Glanusk called this afternoon”
“Lady Glanusk came this afternoon & brought some lovely roses”
“Two young ladies called from Castle [sic] this afternoon”
“The Dowager Lady Glanusk called to see me for a little while this afternoon to read to me”.

“Miss Gladwys [?Bailey] from the Castle came to read for me this afternoon”
“I heard a cuckoo singing” (1 May).
“Mother went to a tea held at the Castle.”

Why did Lady Glanusk visit regularly and spend time reading to the sick Gertie? We don’t know.

Is the mystery chauffeur and his female companion with the Rolls Royce the same one referred to by Horace in his letter?
Did Lady Glanusk employ him?

We now know the chauffeur was not Horace but more likely a friend of the family, the same man who sent books to Horace while he lay dying in Craig-y-nos except he never received them.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Horace Batts - 1933

Horace Batts

There is something incongruous writing about Wales, and a TB sanatorium that existed over 50 years ago, on a laptop while sitting in Starbucks in the centre of Glasgow.
But for reasons too complicated to go into that’s what happened yesterday.

However reminded me yet again how dependent on the the internet and new media this project is. Without it then it is unlikely that this book would have come so far in such a relatively short time.

Indeed the first people to respond to an article I posted on the BBC web site were from Australia and Canada.

John Batts (Australia) wrote:

“ I have some letters written from Craig-y-nos in 1930 by a cousin of my father. The writer did not last very long at the sanatorium and died there aged 29. If you would like to see these -- and I think you should --I think it could be arranged. The project sounds very worthwhile, if a bit depressing.”

A few days later John Price from Edmonton, AB. Canada added:

"Both myself and my little sister Anne were at Craig-y-nos,me first,on the balcony during the snows of 1947,then Anne a few months later. Here is a secret I have kept for 60 Years,I was in love with Bridie Thomas! My favorite nurse was Nurse Chemis? The matron was not very nice and took all our treasures regularly. We took part in a Tommy Trouble radio broadcast as well, remember My Old Man's a Dustman? I was sent to Highland Moors to convalesce.Clive Rowlands was there at the same time. All of the nurses there were nice. Sad part ,my mother died while I was there,It was 2 weeks before my tenth birthday. I have had two visits to see Craig-y-nos and so much has gone,even "Jimmy the Ghost" ".

The letters of Horace Batts are in the Powys archives, Llandrindod Wells and the following are some extracts from them.

The sanatorium regime for very sick patients was absolute bed rest and Horace explains this to his family:

“I have been put on absolute rest which means I must not move in bed, receive no visitors, write no letters have everything done for me even to being fed. It is to get up my temperature down I suppose. don’t worry will you.”

However Horace manages to write a letter and gets a visitor to post it for him.

“Dear Mam and all,
Just a line on the q.t. Tell Mrs P not to send any more cakes as cakes are not allowed. I shall want some eggs and fruit, you can send bananas, apples etc. but no pears.
Sister opens all my letters, parcels, just slits them that’s all , so be careful what you are sending.
.....It’s a funny business this, being fed and everything. I have gone shiverish but that’s to be expected.

Remember me to all...

PS We had a service on wireless on Sunday.”

Indeed the weekly “treat” is the Sunday service on the wireless. It reminds Horace that he is a lapsed chapel-goer.

Horace says:
“We had a nice service on wireless Sunday night. I thought of Sunday nights I should have gone to chapel but never did. I wish now I had but if God will spare me I bet I’ll be different. I’ve said that before havent I though.”

He died.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Molly Barry (nee O'Shay) -1950-52

Molly in the "Six-Bedder"

" I went into Craig-y-nos in the May of 1950 and I was there until the May of ’51, so I had my twenty-first birthday there, and I got engaged whilst I was there.

That was in the August of 1950, so I came home in the May about 1951, and then I was home for a few months … and then I wasn’t very well again, so I was back in bed and then they told me in the November, I think it was, that I had to back to Craig-y-nos.

As I say, I’d got engaged the previous August. My husband insisted on us getting married before I went back in, which we did in quite a hurry. We had sort of a few days. I got married on December 1st 1951 and I went back in then in the December, and I was there until the September of ’52. So it was thirteen months the first time and nearly ten months the second time.

But of course, in those days if you mentioned TB, oh it was like as if you’d said you had plague.

(Carole) It was a very taboo subject.

I think about it now and it reminds me of the olden days when they used to paint red crosses on the doors and say, ‘Bring out your dead’ (laughs).

Molly with "Auntie Maggie"

Which ward were you in?
I was in the six-bedded ward, Adelina Patti’s old bedroom.
I was in there, a nice little ward. There was only six of us so we all got like a little family then, there were so few of us in there. We were just like a little family. I was obviously upset at twenty-years-old, having something like that but I think you … well, I don’t know, I just accepted it and got on with it.
I had streptomycin and PAS (para-aminosalicylic acid) and just bed-rest with the bottom of the bed up on blocks. That was all, no surgery or anything like that.
It must have been quite a few months -- injections in your buttocks and then the horrible PAS stuff, which was a huge white tablet. Oh, that was dreadful to take – it was so big, you know, I couldn’t swallow it. It used to make me vomit every time I tried to swallow the thing. It was quite a long regime, I think.

How did you pass the time in Craig-y-nos ?
Oh, I read. I always enjoy reading, and then when I got a little bit more ‘with it’, I used to do the flowers. They used to bring the trolley to me, you know. I had to lay on my left side all the time so I got quite handy. They used to bring the trolley and the vases with the water in, and I used to arrange the flowers and used to write letters for some people and write my own letters every day, but just read, you know, and keep myself occupied that way.

The flowers used to go out every night. There was a tiny little ante-room off the bedroom, and they used to be taken out every night into that room.

What about the food?
Well, not very good. I suppose it did us good at the time the only thing that always sticks in my mind -- we used to have some kind of broth or stew and it always had like a black pudding floating in it. That always stuck in my mind, the horrible black puddingy thing. But you eat everything you’re given to put on your weight and just make yourself better.

Molly with her mother

I had visitors almost immediately and my husband ( who was obviously my boyfriend then), he was there every weekend, and my mum used to come every weekend. Sometimes we’d be snowed in but I don’t think they missed very often, and then a few of my very close friends used to come. But, as I say, it was like as if you had plague, and some wouldn’t bother to come, and it’s then you find out who your true friends are.

Nurse Glenys Davies with Molly in Swansea

What members of staff do you remember?
Oh yes, I remember Dr Huppert. I remember Dr Williams and Sister Williams I think she was, and of course Glenys Davies who I always called ‘Maudie’. That was my nickname for her. I always called her ‘Maudie’, and I have got a lovely photo of her and I taken in Swansea. She came to Swansea one day when I was home, and we met up in Swansea. We (my husband and I) did make visits back and fore when I first came home. We used to have a little run up to Craig-y-nos and see her but I haven’t seen her now for many, many years.

Other patients?
I remember quite a few of them. There was another girl from Swansea called Minnie … Minnie Morris. Unfortunately, she’s died now. She died a few years ago. I remember Minnie and there was another one, Gwyneth. She was a police sergeant’s wife from Llanelli. There was another girl from Ystalyfera that worked in the bank.

Did you go to the Adelina Patti theatre?
Oh, yes, often. I used to get taken down in a chair, sometimes you’d go down in your bed, which was lovely. They’d take your bed in the lift and you’d go down. Oh yes, we went to lots of those, and as I say, once you were allowed out of bed … you started off half an hour one week and then it increased.

Molly boating on the lake

and then you were allowed to go round the grounds, and that was lovely.
Oh yes, once you were able to get out of bed, they let you go around the grounds. You went out for your walks every day. It was a beautiful place and the grounds were gorgeous.

A lot of the young people have been badly affected by having been in there … the children particularly. But it wasn’t the case for you?
No, no, it didn’t affect me. It obviously affected me that I was in the hospital and I wasn’t very well but no, I just accepted it and got on with getting better. And once I came home, I was home and it didn’t bother me in the slightest.

I was married for three years, I think, before I had my first child, which was a daughter, and then I had my son. Well, you’re kept busy then looking after them.

Did you ever see a “ghost”?
I got accused once of going into the children’s ward with a white sheet over me, but it wasn’t me. Of course, I suppose at twenty I was a bit wicked … even though I was in hospital I was still full of joy and quite a happy person. We used to have our own little ward door propped open at night with a stool, and for some reason, the stool moved and the door closed.
Whether there was a draught from somewhere, I don't know, but it was quite a heavy stool. But I never saw anything myself.
Did somebody actually go into the children’s ward with a white sheet on?

Well, I don’t know whether it was a white sheet but we heard the children … a couple of them shouting, you know. And they went in to investigate, but they couldn’t see anything and as I say, that’s when Sister Morgan accused me of doing it (laughs).

Sister Morgan accused you?
Yes. ‘What have you been up to, going in the children’s ward?’ But it wasn’t me. I was sometimes wicked, I suppose (laughs).

Sister Morgan with Molly ( far left) and some of the children from Ward 2

Did you mix with the children?
No. Well, I did go onto the veranda. I’ve got photographs of the veranda but they didn’t really like the adult patients … for I was considered an adult … they didn’t really like us mixing with the children, you know.

You didn’t write to them or anything?
And Dr Huppert?
I didn’t mind her. . She was a very short, Germanic woman, and very abrupt, but no, I didn’t mind her a bit. I know some people thought she was horrible but no, I didn’t mind her.
I was at the age where you accept things more than a child would. She could be frightening to little children.

Gastric lavages?
I didn’t have a cough or anything and I had to have those, and they were horrible. I didn’t like those one bit.
I couldn’t swallow the tube very well. I couldn’t even take these big tablets (PAS) very well. And even today, I can’t put a pencil in my mouth if I’m doing some writing without heaving. So it was a problem. I mean, I obviously did it but not as I should have done because they liked it to go quite well down."

Molly was interviewed by Dr Carole Reeves, Outreach Historian with The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ringo Starr - TB as a child

Did you know that Ringo Starr had TB as a child ?

Dr Carole Reeves heard an interview with Ringo Starr on Radio 4's
'Front Row' last Friday. He talked about the first time he picked up drumsticks as a 13 year old in hospital with TB.
The rest is history...

(He spent two years in hospital, aged
seven and thirteen.)

Well, I doubt if any one of us can point to our time at Craig-y-nos as “opening windows into the world”.

But this is not true of other sanatoriums as those of us who “graduated” to them can vouch for. Sully had a enthusiastic art teacher and we were encouraged to draw and paint in our beds.
( Imagine that happening with Sister Morgan in Craig-y-nos!) . For the first time in my life I was introduced into the world of art and there followed a bout of an expressionistic paintings . One favourite theme in the early days was of mountains, a Gothic castle and the lone figure of a little girl...
The teacher would look at them and murmur:

The paintings got more cheerful after that.

Pinewood Rehabilitation centre for students near Wokingham, certainly “opened windows” for me.
We had first -class teachers - my latin tutor was the classic master from the nearby boys Public school, Wellington College.

Most of the other patients were foreign students at British universities who had fallen ill with TB.

Once an Indian student cooked a meal and the doctors sat and ate it with us!

Can you imagine Dr Huppert sitting down to take tea with the girls?

(My experiences in Sully and Pinewood were only five years after Craig-y-nos).

Monday, January 21, 2008

"Children of Craig-y-nos"- Brecon exhibition online

If you did not get a chance to visit the Brecon exhibition here are some of the photos. Meanwhile the exhibition will continue in the Brecon Library until the end of January.

You will, of course, recognize the voice of Adelina Patti in the movie. The first song is La Calasera ( Yradier) and the second "The banks of Allan Water".
The latter song chosen for the simple reason that I live near the Allan Water river in Scotland. Oh well...

I would just like to say a big "thank-you" to everyone for allowing their photographs to be used.

Whoops! ..we have some technical hiccups.- there has been an upgrade in the system. Would strongly recommend you download the whole of the movie first ( unless you have very fast Broadband) . About 4 minutes.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Book:"The Children of Craig-y-nos"

A year ago I bought a rail ticket to Wales, hired a car and booked into a pub in Abercraf.

My mission was to find “the lost children Craig-y-nos”, those who had been patients in the Castle when it was a TB sanatorium.

I was one of them. For four years. Earlier attempts to discover my former childhood friends had not been successful .

(right) Len Ley
A recent visit had produced two contacts who had themselves tried to find ex-patients and failed. Local historian, Len Ley, said yes from time time patients did turn up on his guided tours and after listening to their stories he was convinced that there was, in his opinion, a parallel story to that of Adelina Patti waiting to be told.
But different. This was one about children .

But how to find them?

Omens had not been good. A reunion for staff and ex-patients organised by the Sleeping Giant, a local local history charity, organised a few years ago brought together ex-nursing staff and people who had worked there. No patients.

I had already contacted the South Wales Evening Post who promised to put my appeal in the paper.
One member of staff at Craig-y-nos castle , now a hotel, told me guests often ask about the past history of the castle when it was a children's TB sanatorium and because of the lack of any information, they make make it up.

Inside the Adelina Patti theatre

That made me more determined than ever to find “the lost children of Craig-y-nos” . Surely we had a story to tell too? nothing as glamorous as the Adelina Patti story, of the international opera diva who put Craig-y-nos on the world’s musical map, but nevertheless a unique childrens story of what it was like to live for years in a TB sanatorium in a remote castle in Wales.

Our story would be one of Welsh social and medical history, a filling in of a forty year silence in the Swansea Valley. For TB was a social stigma and a taboo subject.
Indeed one ex patient who revisited Craig-y-nos some years ago and tried to find out this missing history was told quietly by a local:”we don’t talk about that.”

Times change. The social climate today allows us to talk about the unmentionable.

Just as I was about to leave for Wales I receive a phone call from Len Ley. He felt it fair to warn me that his search for ex-patients had still been unsuccessful and that it was likely my journey to Wales would be fruitful, and that I should save my money.
However, if I insisted on the journey he would continue to search on my behalf...


Within 24 hours of the story appearing in the South Wales Evening Post the phone in my home in Scotland began ringing .
My husband, Malcolm , to his surprise found himself cast, not only in the role of my secretary , but that of a counsellor as people poured out their stories from fifty years ago.

Suddenly it became clear : “the lost children of Craig-y-nos” were certainly not lost but alive and well and eager for their stories to be told.

So I changed the provisional title of my book and my blog to
“The Children of Craig-y-nos”.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Robert lives in California where he worked as a geological research scientist until 1996 then he changed direction and became a freelance science writer.
This is his story.


The memories of Craig-y-nos never leave me, for they are the formative experiences of my life. I was six when I was dropped off there, where my elder sister was living, and had been for several months. It was to be more than one year later that I was to leave, in the middle of the fierce winter of 1947, which I saw and felt from the balcony overlooking the valley of the Tawe, and where, beneath the snow-dusted tarpaulin on top of my bed, the wind and bitter cold breathed health into my being. Or so I was told…

Now in my memory I can “..plunge my hand in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand…and out come…” (1) one vignette after another, in no particular chronological order, no order at all as they pour from the mind of the six-year-old coughing and wasting away, with his sister in a ward nearby but removed from her brother’s sight. A minor cruelty, that, in the scheme of life in South Wales of the time, where consumption’s tubercular finger touched six of our family, killing three.

Staff: Nurse Cowling, Sister Morgan and Sister Jones
From my fourteen months in Craig-y-nos, until January 1947, no faces appear save three: Nurse Cowling, Sister Morgan and Sister Jones.

Young, blonde, with a physical and emotional softness, Brenda Cowling stayed warm in my mind for four decades or more until I revisited the forbidding castle and accidentally met the man who told me he courted her in the winter of 1946-7, to win her hand and her warmth. Sister Morgan I remember as more formal, kindly and taller, with glasses beneath her grey hair and no destructive memory in my head. Her companion in dark blue, Sister Jones, stayed in my mind for years as an object of fear, always in a snit with a viper’s tongue and contempt for children. I had cause to remain silent when she was near; my sister had cause to be terrified of her, and that effect lingers still.
Some of the photographs in the blog told me that my memories from sixty years ago are accurate. Sister Morgan looked as I remember her; she hasn’t aged a day!

“Tube days”- gastric lavages
The early day-to-day in the boys’ ward has faded from my mind. Only the terrifying “tube days” survive, indelible as tattoos in my head. It says something about the procedure that I thought it was weekly, but others have said it was only once a month. I do remember being taken to a side-ward, held in a chair by two members of staff, and administered the procedure by two more. A red rubber tube attached to a conical glass funnel was forced down who knows where and for what purpose, I did not know. And if I asked, I was told to be quiet, to not ask so many questions and bother the nurses. Certainly never talk to a doctor, even though I do not remember seeing one.
Now I understand the procedure as “lavage”, once popular with those who did not like children, but now largely discredited as an efficacious treatment for anything. But every day we watched the food-trolley coming into the ward, and if there were sausages for breakfast (a treat after days of lumpy porridge), we knew that someone was going to get “the tube”. Then the names were read out, fears began to rise and tears to fall, and all the time I was there, it never dawned on the staff that the supposed treat only served to heighten, not palliate, the fear. Although the sausages were there to delight us, we never knew until it was too late who was going to enjoy them, and all we DID know was that some poor unfortunates were in for it in a chair in a side-ward.

Women suffragettes force fed
More than forty years later, when I lived in Dallas, Texas, I watched a program on television about the fight for women’s suffrage in Britain. Many of the imprisoned demonstrators went on a hunger-strike, only to be force-fed, yes! from conical glass funnels and through red rubber tubes. As the scene in the gloomy cell was played out, I was transported back in time to a side-ward in Craig-y-nos, to being tortured by four women, a glass funnel and a red rubber tube. But in the nineteen eighties, while watching television, I could simply walk out of the room rather than savour the experience again. And so I did.

My sister
My sister was not far away, in a ward for girls and women at the end of a long narrow corridor that we walked down again together in the nineteen-nineties. But certainly for the first many months we were not allowed to see each other, except on visiting day once a month for an hour or two, when double-decker buses unloaded family members through the big gates and into the courtyard of the castle.

Simple act of kindness
On one such visit, a generous and kindly patient or family-member in my sister’s ward gave me a green apple, possibly a Golden Delicious or a pale Cox’s Pippin. The crispness and tartness were new to me, and I have loved green apples ever since, such was the effect of one act of kindness.

Early days in Craig-y-nos
Those first months were not pleasant. I became withdrawn, trying to avoid upsetting the staff, I was humiliated by my bed-wetting, which I tried to hide by various stratagems, all of them futile, so that the wetting first and the subsequent attempt to hide it produced more contempt from nurses and staff. I was so withdrawn that I cannot remember the name of any other patient during my time there. To this day, my choice when I enter a group of strangers is to remain in the background, watching and listening rather than participating. But once drawn out, the child disappears and any observer would never know that I had once been shy.

I do remember the attempts to educate us, or at least keep us busy. A teacher came with big orange envelopes or folders with educational stuff within. All I recall of it are reading material and lists of sums for us to do. I was fortunate that I could read before I went to Craig-y-nos, and so I was able to keep pace with the lessons. In truth I liked them, as I have ever since.

Keep you “regular”
My sister Judy reminded me of the little vials we had to drink, small white cups made of coarse china, filled with a dark liquid. To keep us “regular” in our immobility, it was either cascara or syrup-of-figs, an important distinction that a child could not make by looking or smelling. Cascara was bitter, the syrup sweet, so what was the victim to do? Down the bitterness in one gulp so as not to prolong the nastiness, or enjoy the other by savouring its sweetness repeatedly? If you gulped the sweet, your pleasure was very brief; if you sipped the bitter, hemlock would have given you more satisfaction with each additional swallow. Another minor decision to make that gave us moments of pleasure or moments of distaste.

Death in Craig-y-nos
Unless my protective memory has wiped clean my slate, I saw no death in the wards I was in. Judy was not so fortunate, witnessing more than once the drawing of curtains around a bed, as a patient departed the hospital for the grave. It was a small mercy for me, for what would a six-year-old understand had happened with the departure of a ward-mate?

Freedom to roam the grounds
Eventually—I don’t remember how long it took—we were allowed out of bed for exercise, starting with “lav-walks” that saved us from bedpans. After that, one hour per day, then two and three, and finally the release to the castle-grounds for outdoor walks. What a wonderful thing that was: out into the surrounding gardens, around the ornamental lake, into the deep and mysterious bushes and paths around the prison, and even across the bridge on the Tawe! But even that pastoral activity was not without its drama . . .
Foxes roamed the hills on the other side of the valley, where sheep cropped grass to feed the tables of Wales. And where the twain did meet, torn and bloody throats, with red stains on the snow, showed the little group of children from the castle that death was never far away.
For sixty years I have wondered why a party of children was allowed to roam the grounds without an adult in attendance. In the dense bushes between the castle and the river, the remains of ornamental gardens, with their tight paths through the branches and roots, served as surrogates for dense tropical jungle for junior explorers.

Falling in the river
For adventurers there is always danger, in this case in the form of a deep, square pool, into which—too curious by half—I fell, unable to swim.
Somebody ran for help, and the others managed to reach me, struggling with an imaginary breast-stroke. My sister and friends were able to pull me out and a nurse took me back to the hospital.

Nurse “dunks” boy's head under water to get rid of fear
Believing in the concept that fear was overcome by repeated exposure to the terror, the nurse put me in a hot deep bath, where she dunked my head underwater again and again to rid me of my dread. Although I hated the experience at the time, I suppose she was being sensible, because I was never afraid of the sea when, after leaving Craig-y-nos, we were taken regularly to the beaches of south Wales for healthy exercise and rehabilitation. But it was another six years before I could swim.

Pyschological impact of Craig-y-nos on later development
It should be no surprise to anyone with some understanding of human development that this small boy developed an ambivalent attitude to women. Every kindness and all the cruelty were administered to the child by women, and so he spent a lot of his life enveloped in a familiar paradox: desirous of women and yet repelled by his fear of them. Years later, as a teenager at a dance with his first-ever girlfriend, she was on one side of the hall and he on the other. Though he wanted to cross the floor to ask her to dance, in his fear and self-consciousness, he never did, and spent the entire evening yearning.

“Dentist was my uncle”
I remember Santa Claus entertaining us in the small theatre off on one side of the courtyard. He was my uncle Jenkyn Evans from Ystalyfera, a dentist by profession and a sculptor of some note by vocation.

Snow on the balcony
And the last memory I have is a pleasant one: sleeping outside on the balcony, even when it snowed. Safe and warm under blankets topped by a heavy tarpaulin as strong as the wall of a tent, I was protected from the wintry elements, with dustings of snow over all of us. Years later, both Judi and I continued to imitate the experience by hiding under bedclothes at bedtime, reading by the light of a torch.

In retrospect
Looking over what I have written about this most-formative of experiences for a six-year-old, I wonder whether I have been too harsh about all the unpleasantness. Surely there was no conscious cruelty; the staff must have been practising the medicine of the day, the “best practice” of 1946 and 47. If they did not explain that to me, well, that too, was what doctors did in those days.
But a six-year-old cannot grasp that, nor can the schoolboy who came along, or the teenager in grammar school, or the undergraduate and graduate who came after him. In fact, the six-year-old had matured into his forties before he began to understand fully how the Craig-y-nos experience had affected his emotional development, his feelings and his behaviour. There was no escape; it lingered in his life like tobacco-smoke in clothes.

Coming to terms with the past
So what is the way to put into perspective my fourteen isolated months high in the valley of the Tawe? With years of unwieldy psychotherapy? Perhaps to learn instead of a supreme act of religious redemption by those who had been unintentionally cruel to me and all the others? For what purpose? The mid-to-late nineteen-forties in Europe were cruel times, and my sister and I were merely two among millions who had suffered. All of war-torn Europe learned that peace is hard to come by, and difficult to live in.
So for me it has been a slow enlightening since the day more than sixty years ago when my sister Judy and I stepped onto a South Wales Transport double-decker again, and headed down into bombed-out Swansea and thence to Gowerton, where we lived into the nineteen-sixties.
And that is the point, I finally understand, that no matter what I feel about that forbidding castle, it is only because of Craig-y-nos that sixty years later I can sit at my computer in California, telling you about my experience in the hospital.

My life after Craig-y-nos
The shy boy who left the place in 1947 became confident enough to speak in public in front of large audiences, and referee international football games in stadiums filled with tens of thousands of fans. The skinny kid who nearly drowned eventually played water-polo for his university and then taught life-saving and water-safety for the Red Cross. The education he received from the orange envelopes was a sufficient foundation for him to catch up to his contemporaries in primary school, learn with them in grammar school, and progress to university and eventually graduate school for advanced degrees.

He may have lost more than a year in Craig-y-nos, but he gained a life, and here, sitting in a farmhouse in the midst of walnut and fruit orchards in the central valley of California, he still breathes, as others in the ward with my sister do not.

Now he sees and clearly, that the granuloma still visible in his lung, scarred by the bacterial activity so long ago, is not a stigma, but a medal.

(1) From “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas

Friday, January 18, 2008

Terry Hunt, age 7, Craig-y-nos 1947-48

Terry is a metallurgist living in Newport. You may remember him, the very tall guy, at the Patients Reunion last September.

Catching TB from a relative
"I picked TB up from my uncle.
My uncle and my father served in the Merchant Navy together during the war in the convoys. My uncle had supposedly had quite a rough campaign and when he came out after the war he was quite ill. I don’t think they realised then … I know he lived with us for some time after the war. He was a single man then, and I definitely picked it up from him. I was something of a favourite with him apparently, and he used to pick me up and play with me when I was a small boy, and that’s why, apparently, I caught TB from him and none of the other children did
He went into a sanatorium. I don’t know how long he was in a sanatorium but he was never in a full-time job afterwards. He actually lived in a Haig Home until he died.
He wasn’t bed-ridden or anything but he was the classic TB sufferer – he was very, very thin, very white skinned, and he never ran anywhere. He just did odd jobs, basically, and lived in a Haig Home all the time I knew him, and of course in those days, people smoked whether they had TB or not.

I smoked for twenty years.
I can’t recall anyone telling me it was bad for me until you started to learn yourself in the sixties and seventies, when people got a bit wise, and I stopped. But it was amazing. Lots and lots of people I know had lung problems and still smoked.

Treatment in Craig-y-nos
I don’t recall any. I do recall being taken into hospital and I do recall being taken into the surgery part of the hospital.

Strait jackets and “restrainers”
Like everybody else I was in strait jackets or restrainers. I remember breaking out of them and having heavier ones put on me to tie me down to the bed, and I can also remember being taken into what I would see now as an operating theatre. Then I can remember bringing up blood, but whether that was anything to do with TB or a lung collapse or whether it was this lavage process, or even having a tonsillectomy done, that I don’t know. I don’t know what treatment I had there.

I stayed in there until they moved me to Llandrindod.
The total time I understand was about two years. I’ve always understood from my parents that it was about a year in each place.

I remember I was either on the left hand side (of the boys’ ward) or on the far wall. Our beds used to be pushed out (on the balcony) by the open windows and stuck out there in the winter.

I can remember spending quite a lot of time on the balcony. The biggest problem I can remember is that you couldn’t go anywhere, and I suppose ever since, I’ve never been very keen on being held down at all.

On the lake
But I can also remember being taken out on the lake when I was there. I can remember quite clearly being pushed around in the boat there

Rugby player

In my early thirties, when I was still playing rugby, if I went in for an X-ray, I was always whipped down the chest clinic to be checked over.
On one occasion I broke a rib and I had quite a bad knock. I was back and forward to the chest clinic for about two months.
I was never a great rugby player but from the time I was about sixteen I started playing soccer and then I started playing rugby when I was about twenty-one or twenty-two. I was very small when I was young, quite skinny and short. When I left school I was about five feet one, and then from sixteen to about twenty-one / twenty-two, I grew over a foot. I went from about five or six stones up to about thirteen and a half stones.

All I can remember is that it was okay. I don’t remember there being a problem with food. I can’t remember being force fed. A couple (at the reunion) said that they kept forcing you to eat and you weren’t allowed to leave your food, but then that was the general case anyway. It was like that at home. You couldn’t leave food at home, they just wouldn’t stand for it. In a time of rationing you ate the food you had.

I always felt that it was infrequent. I always thought they didn’t come to see me because either they didn’t want to see me or it was a case that they couldn’t afford to come and see me. It wasn’t until I was talking to the staff – the former nurses and other patients – and they told me that they were only allowed to visit once a month anyway. I can’t ever remember being told that.
… I think it would have made a difference if I had been told.

People’s fear of TB
I always had the impression that when people had TB in those days they weren’t expected to survive. You know the expression ‘a dead man walking’. You weren’t expected to survive and so many people didn’t survive that they didn’t really expect you to come out.
The feeling I had in there was almost one of helplessness, that you couldn’t do anything. Everything was out of your hands, what happened to you. You were in the hands of the doctors and the nurses, and you just had to rely on them to look after you and get you well. Get you back home.

How did you pass your time?

It was boring, yes. You just used your imagination. I can remember being taught to draw and that sort of thing, being encouraged to draw. I think that might have been one of the things the teachers taught us to do. I don’t know how much formal education that we had in there. I know we had some education. My sister always tells the rest of the family that I had no education at all until I actually left the hospital, but I don’t think that’s true.

You went on to grammar school, didn’t you?
Yes, I did.
So you must have been bright.
When you left Craig-y-nos, were you behind in school?
When I left Llandindrod and went home, I did stay at home with my mother for quite some time, and then initially I was sent to the infants school, which was quite close by Brynmill in Swansea. I remember being in the infants school and being older than all the other children around me. I was there for some time – how long I don’t know but it wasn’t a great length of time – then I was moved up to the primary school. I went up to the primary school in Brynmill and I was less than a year in that primary school before I was moved to the Catholic primary school in the town centre, which is St David’s in Swansea. I was there for a year where I did my eleven plus. I’m guessing that I did about two years in primary school so I would have been eight or nine when I actually started school.

Taking the 11plus
I actually did my eleven plus before my eleventh birthday. I entered the grammar school in September 1951. I was eleven in June 1951. What did surprise me was why they didn’t let me go another year before I sat it. That surprised me, I must admit. I found grammar school quite a struggle, to be honest, and I struggled through my time there.
I think I surprised my parents that I got four GCEs (O-levels). I went to work at sixteen. I struggled in education until I was about eighteen / nineteen, and then I started catching up.

Education- qualified as a metallurgist
Most of my education for my work was day release and night school. The employer I went to work for as a trainee metallurgist in a laboratory, gave me day release and over a number of years I got two Higher National Certificates and I got professional entry into the professional bodies of metallurgists and fuel technologists. I was then into my twenties and I actually finished my education, if you like, when I was about thirty whereas the people around me had finished theirs in their early twenties. It did slow me up to a certain point but I did eventually catch up.
I enjoyed my work. I had a marvellous time.

Staff at Craig-y-nos
I can remember having my sweets pinched. I can remember our sweets being taken away but I can’t remember ever being ill-treated by a member of staff. They must have done something right because I married a nurse!
I’ve never had a problem with medical people other than I’m a bit suspicious of them! I’ve always had a view that doctors don’t know all the answers and I think that goes back to that time. I don’t have tremendous faith in doctors.

What are bad memories of Craig-y-nos? It did affect you, didn’t it?
Yes, it did. When I told my parents things that had happened, like having your sweets taken away and being tied to the bed, they just didn’t believe me. It was a case of, ‘Oh, he’s always telling stories, always telling lies.’

I didn’t use TB as an excuse.
I remember when I started grammar school. Any sports activities I found a tremendous struggle the first two or three years in school and I recall once, the gym teacher making me run around the gym and I just couldn’t do it. I was absolutely exhausted. When he was asking me why I couldn’t do it, I started trying to tell him that I’d been in a sanatorium with TB for two years, and I had the reaction, ‘Well, stop making excuses,’ and he smacked my backside. There were a couple of things like that happened, so I stopped saying to people, ‘I’ve had TB.’ As I’ve grown up I don’t tell people about it. If I wasn’t very good at sport, I never used that as an excuse.

Social stigma of TB
When I was a kid, the kids in the street weren’t allowed to play with me. The kids are all playing but you’re the odd one out. You’re not to go too close to them in case you’re infectious.
You were on the outside a little bit.
You just learn to live with it.

The reunion
(Carole ) Some of the staff have been critical. One of the reasons why we wanted to organise the reunion was to get staff and patients together, and to get all the facts together. There are going to be things that people don’t want to hear but we do want to understand how children experienced their time in Craig-y-nos. This experience will be from a completely difference perspective than adult patients or staff.

The nurses I spoke to (at the reunion) are quite comfortable with it and did give a lot of information to people that were there.

(Carole ) That was good. It probably helped people to understand some of the things that had happened to them, and of course, medicine was different in those days. Nobody ever told you what was going to be done to you. They never told adults let alone children.

Tied to the bed
It depends on your perspective. When somebody stood over you to make sure you never got out of bed, you can either treat it as for your own good or see (that person) as a jailer. I know you weren’t allowed to jump around and weren’t allowed to run around the wards, and that’s basically why they tied us to the beds.

Total bed-rest was the treatment, certainly before the antibiotic era. The other thing they were worried about is that if people did start bouncing around, they could have a lung haemorrhage. They were always frightened of that but you can’t explain that to a child (and wouldn’t want to frighten them anyway).

My wife recalls restraining patients when she was in the early part of her career. They were still using restraints on some patients.

(Carole ) They certainly did in psychiatric units. When I spoke to Valerie Brent (pupil nurse at Craig-y-nos in the mid-1940s) about restraints she said they used to do it to stop children falling out of their cots or beds because they had so many children to look after, and were usually short-staffed. So that’s yet another perspective. Is there anything else that we haven’t talked about?

Feeling a misfit
When you come out of hospital you’re a bit of a misfit really because you can’t go to school. I remember my sister wasn’t very happy when I came back because I suppose she was number one in the family, and this person (me) appeared from nowhere. I’ve talked to others and their experiences were very similar.

Highmoor, Llandindrod
It was a more relaxed atmosphere there. I can’t remember being restrained there. It wasn’t so restrictive as it was in Craig-y-nos.
I always had the feeling that we were able to move around there. It was more of a rehabilitation place."

Terry Hunt was interviewed by Dr Carole Reeves, Outreach Historian with The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Children in "restraints"- 1950's

Nurse Glenys Davies with another member of staff and blonde curly haired girl on Ward 2 balcony.


Those children who refused to stay in bed were put into "restraints", a practice that continued right up into the 1950s as these two photos show, taken on the balcony of Ward 2. It was unusual to find this practise on the balcony of Ward 2, most of the accounts we have received come from children either in the boys ward, Glass Conversatory ( babies ward) or the children wards on the top floor (those under ten years of age).

Clive Rowlands, former Rugby star and ex Craig-y-nos patient joked at the opening of the exhibition in the Welfare Hall, Ystrdadgynlais how he had been put into restrainsts for "being naughty". He would have been about 8 years of age at the time.(late 1940's)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Joan Wotton (nee Thomas) 1950-52

Joan on the balcony of Ward 2

Trawling through my 1,000 plus photos the other day I came across one marked “unknown” in the collection of Mari Friend ( nee Jenkins.)
Could this be Joan Wotton ( nee Thomas)?
I emailed her daughter, Beth.
Back came the following reply.

"Dear Ann,
                 Mum is here and she cannot remember having this photo taken.She thinks it may have been taken at the same time as the group photo of her with the girls.
"Didn't realise I was so good looking" Mum has just said. And she cannot remember Mari Jenkins obviously she was at Craig-Y- Nos at the same time as Mum.It was lovely to see this photo for the first time, thanks' Ann best wishes Joan and Beth."

Kathleen Powell - 1920s

The lack of any records from the time that Craig-y-nos was a childrens TB sanatorium remains a source of much regret.

Today I received the following email from Janet Tayler in Worcester:
"I'm so disappointed to find out there are no records of patients at Craig y nos.  My great aunt, Kathleen Powell, from Cwmgwrach, died there during the 1920s.  My grandfather was only young at the time and he hasn't spoken much about his sister.  I can't even find a record of her death.  If I find anything else out from the only other surviving sister sister, or if there are any photos, I will contact you.  ( My grandfather is nearly 90 and his sister is 88)  Kathleen caught TB from visiting a friend who had it.
I've spent many happy hours walking round "Madam Patti's" - the country park, and I've taken my own children there.
Good luck with the book."

Craig-y-nos stories

I have noticed a discrepancy between accounts given in the official oral recordings for this project and stories written by ex-patients.

Invariably the official oral recordings often paint an upbeat happy picture of their time in Craig-y-nos, whereas those who have written their own accounts are more likely to reveal intimate details of painful memories.

( I first noticed this when people I had chattered to informally gave me one story then once the tape-recorder was switched on I got a much more bland version of events.)

Now pyschologist Michael Eysenck, Professor of Pyschology at the Royal Holloway and Bedford New College University of London offers an explanation in his book : "Happiness”.

He calls it the “social desirablity bias” which simply means we often distort the truth in order to present a more socially desirable image of ourselves than is actually warranted.

One study shows that people who completed a questionnaire on happiness in the context of a personal interview reported to feeling “very happy” in 36 per cent of cases whereas those who completed the same questionnaire alone said they were only 23 per cent “very happy”.