Monday, March 31, 2008

Dr Mulhall 1952-1986

Dr Patrick Plunkett Mulhall

“TB male patients were difficult to control”
- Dr Patrick Plunkett Mulhall

“I went to Craig-y-nos first in 1952 to assist the medical superintendent at the time, Dr Ivor Williams, and I was there until 1985. The patients were getting on very well then because in 1952 they were starting to get new drugs. I was based at Brecon.
It was a very strict regime a Craig-y-nos: strictly bed-rest, as much rest as possible and good food and fresh air.
A lot of the children spent most of their time on the balconies. Before my time there were more severe conditions prevailing when they used to be left there in the rain, snow, everything. Of course, they were covered up but they had to endure that as well.

A lot of the children also were in plaster casts for tuberculosis of bone joints and spines. Other children had tuberculous glands of the neck. They were treated by ultra-violet rays and they had a course of treatment.

Most of my work was with the adults and they spent most of their time in bed but they were gradually given graduated exercises to get them rehabilitated and continued to walk outside the grounds.

That’s how they recovered, most of them. There used to be a monthly surgical session where a surgeon– Mr Dillwyn Thomas ,Thoracic Surgeon, Sully Hospital– came to do minor operations on the patients that needed surgical intervention such as cutting fibrous tissues (adhesions) in the pneumothorax (collapsed lung) cases.

These patients were treated by pneumothorax – by insertion of air into the pleural spaces – and because of the disease, quite a number of the lung surfaces were adherent to each other and to the pleura on the chest wall, so they had to be separated to give a complete relaxation of the lung. It was collapsed down to its smallest size.

The patients were reviewed by the surgeon for possible surgery in Cardiff, in the thoracic unit, to be transferred down there. For example, people with cavities. So, it was quite a lot of activity at that time.

Most of the people in Craig-y-nos had TB of the lungs. There were only a small number who had tuberculous bones. Those were mainly children.

I don’t recall any deaths in my time. The patients were selective in that the worst cases were transferred down to surgical units and didn’t come back. Perhaps some died after they went home, but I don’t recall any sad cases of people dying there.

Streptomycin and PAS (para-aminosalicylic acid) made a big difference. It changed the outlook completely for people who had diagnosed positive TB.

Eventually, they found that people were becoming resistant to the new drugs. Then a new drug came in called Isoniazid and that was useful to help solve the problem of preventing patients developing resistance to the drugs and become tuberculous resistant.

If it was uncontrolled, it became apparent about six weeks after treatment, and if patients – particularly outpatients – took their drugs intermittently or not continuously, that could give rise to resistance very easily. It’s the problem they have in the third world.

There were only a few members of staff, like Glenys Davies who developed sensitivity to streptomycin.

Gastric lavages were necessary to try and obtain some tuberculous bacilli in the gastric juices being swallowed. It was very difficult otherwise to get a specimen from the sputum. Some didn’t have much sputum or they swallowed a lot of it.

It was important to know whether the child was positive or negative so far as tuberculous bacilli was concerned. That also dictated what treatment they should need.

It was not a very nice procedure at all for children and in those days, perhaps … I wasn’t involved in that … in these days they’d be a bit more refined now. The techniques of doing that are with simple tubes now.

Dr Huppert

Dr Huppert was a very strict doctor. Well, she didn’t seem to have much feeling in one way, and then at other times she was very kind. She was a person who lived on her own in a flat up at the top of the building and I used to have my lunch with her in the dining-room adjoining to it once a week.

She would never talk about her experiences. She came from Vienna (she qualified MD in 1923 in Vienna), and when the Austrian Anschluss came into effect she got out before that. She had polio as a child. She used to limp around, she was a bit overweight and a formidable figure to these children.

Dr Frank Wells was the first medical superintendent. He was there until 1930 when Dr Lizzie Robertson Clark became superintendent. She was followed by Dr David William Fenwick Jones who was, in turn, followed by Dr Ivor Williams. Dr Jordan (Norman Theodore Kingsley) was a chest physician in Brecon but not at the Adelina Patti Hospital, unless he went there in a consultative capacity. He was a physician to the Welsh National Memorial Association, a post I inherited eventually.

There were two secretaries, both ex-patients in the office who ran the day-to-day administration and liaisoned so well with the patients for years. Ina Hopkins is deceased, but I still get Christmas cards from Euryl Thomas who lives nearby in Abercrave.

The sanatorium originally had both male and female patients, but eventually the male patients were transferred to the North and South Wales sanatoria.

TB male patients were difficult to control in the early days of a strict regime. One anecdote I heard was about two pals asked permission from the Sister to go to see the swans in their allotted time of exercising. After several hours absent from the ward, the two lads arrived back looking the worse for wear, and on being asked where they had been, informed the Sister that they had been to see the ‘swans’ playing at their home venue in Swansea! Who can blame them?

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

Saturday, March 29, 2008

‘Awards for All Wales’ grant

Dr Carole Reeves

The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL has received a grant of £5000.00 to create a print on demand book entitled ‘The Children of Craig-y-nos’ which will also be freely available as a downloadable pdf file from the Centre's website.

The book will be the first ever collective history of patient and staff experiences in a tuberculosis sanatorium.

The Adelina Patti Hospital (Craig-y-nos Castle) served for nearly forty years (1922-1959) as a tuberculosis sanatorium mainly for children and young women at a time when the incidence and death rate of TB in the industrial areas of South Wales were higher than anywhere else in Britain.

The project was begun by artist and writer, Ann Shaw, herself an ex-patient, who will be co-authoring the book with Dr Carole Reeves, Outreach Historian at the Centre.

It is not only re-uniting people who shared their formative years in the sanatorium but is opening a community dialogue about the impact of tuberculosis on families in the Swansea valley.

The project has collected over a thousand photographs, memorabilia, and seventy-five oral history interviews. There have been two well-attended photographic exhibitions in Ystradgynlais and Brecon, and a 2008 summer exhibition will be held at Swansea Museum.

An online exhibition is at:

A patient / staff reunion at Craig-y-nos Castle in September 2007 was attended by 120 people. Information pours in on a daily basis and the Craig-y-nos blog ( now has over 600 pages of text, images, podcasts and videos. The project will make available an important educational and heritage resource created by the people who experienced it.

Ann Shaw

Dr Carole Reeves, who applied for the grant and has worked on the project with Ann Shaw since its inception, said: ‘We are thrilled that “Awards for All Wales” has recognised the importance of this community project. The book will be a permanent memorial to “The Children of Craig-y-nos” and an important medical and social history of tuberculosis in the area. Because the sanatorium records have been destroyed, we are re-constructing forty years of missing Welsh history.’

Unknown nurse - 1948-49

Can anyone put a name to this photo? It is part of Dulcie Oltersdorf collection . Dulcie was in the Annexe from 1948-49.

Adelina Patti-Encyclopaedia of Wales

I see that Adelina Patti gets a mention in The Welsh Academy Encyclopedia of Wales, though exactly what I am not sure since the book has only just been published and costs £65. ( University of Wales).
However, a review in today's Guardian raves over the book pointing to the renaissance that is taking place in Welsh culture.

And not before time!...

Friday, March 28, 2008

The "Children of Craig-y-nos" project -a catharsis?

Many have told me how helpful they have found it to be able to talk for the first time about their experiences in Craig-y-nos.
Beryl Richards ( nee Rowlands) says, on hearing about our Lottery grant to publish the book:

"Great news I am pleased for you as you have worked so hard, but the most important thing to come out of it all has been the fact that you have helped patients meet up once again, it has also been therapeutic for many of us. I shall look forward to the exhibition. (in Swansea)."

Thank-you Beryl!

TB and electric fences

So you think TB is a forgotten disease, like leprosy?
Unfortunately in some parts of the world it is alive and thriving.

"I've seen people die and die. The only discharge you get from this place is to the mortuary" - 20 year old Siyasanga Lukas, a TB patient at the Jose Pearson TB hospital in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on how how patients are kept behind electrified razor-wire fences to keep them from infecting others.

(Source: The New York Times, 25 March).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Edward Ellis Thomas, -1928

Edward Ellis Thomas, age 85, a retired civil engineer with local government wrote his own account of life in Craig-y-nos as a 7 year old in 1928.

At the age of two I was seen to be limping on my right leg. “Hip disease” (TB hip) was diagnosed and I was sent to the remote St Brides hospital ( or “Kensington Castle”) on the Pembrokeshire coast.

Over the next few years I was to spend varying periods there, while at home I was strapped to a horizontal frame resting on a 4 wheeled wickerwork carriage. I seem to remember rumours that my hip ball had dissolved and that an eminent specialist in Liverpool hd sent for my x-ray plates out of interest.


In 1928 with my parents I travelled by train from Swansea to Pen-y-cae, the station above Craig-y-nos where we were met by a black ambulance and taken to the hospital

On arrival there I was sent to bed The ward was the large “all glazed” Children's Ward overlooking the river Tawe.

My second afternoon we were all carried down to a picnic by the river.
I remember George from Pontadawe for he seemed always to be standing on his bed in a long white night-dress and with one arm bent at the elbow in a metal frame. Glenys Evans, with dark curly hair, like a pretty little doll was the ward flirt, who “married” each of us boys in turn.

Dr Helen Turner

There were three lady doctors. Dr Clarke, the senior, an elderly Scot, white haired with specs and a little Scottie terrier at her heel.
Dr Walker, tall with upswept hair. The third, (Dr Turner) the youngest, had eton-cropped hair who always sat on my bed and made a big fuss of me.

I can only remember Sister Dowey, tall and dark, and to whom my parents took a big liking ( she came to tea with us at home after my discharge).

The engineer
Tall, with shiny dark hair neatly swept back, in a yellow boiler-suit. He looked after the generator-engine whose exhaust “phut-phut-phutting” from the chimney. This from the shed outside the ward. The engineer always called our heads “yer knowledge boxes.”

At certain periods of the year our beds were carried out to the roofed veranda adjoining the ward. Our bed clothes had tarpaulin covers to protect them from the dew. In fine weather dawn on the veranda was beautiful fresh, nose tingling air, all silent apart from awakening farm animals, foxes and birdsong

My only memories are of rice pudding with burnt milk-skin and hard boiled eggs.

To torment us, the older boys told us that we would have our bones scraped, and that at midnight the sculpted figures of fairies etc. arranged around the ornamental fountain outside would come to life and dance to eerie music.

A few years later the fountain was removed and rebuilt in Victoria park, Swansea, near the Patti Pavilion, where it is to this day.

We were thrilled to hear of pirate buses on the main road. Actually they were unlicensed buses illegally competing with the authorised services.

My parents and others would bring me parcels of comics (“Puck”, “Tiger Tim” etc.). these I would read avidly. Running beneath the beds were heating pipe ducts with ornamental cast iron covers.

We would wet tiny paper pellets in our mouths and drop them through the covers to hear the mice and rats scuttle.

My own pinnacle of achievement was playing one of the Seven Dwarfs ( on crutches) in the famous theatre.

We had periodic tuition in reading.

This is about the sum total of my memories of Craig-y-nos.

In the early 1960s suffering with lower back pain I asked my GP for x-rays of my hip to see if this was a possible cause. He agreed. The consultant concerned told me that I had never had hip disease but was born with a dislocated hip!

My family were sceptical because I was seen to limp at the age of two or three as I am to this day.
I have a shorter right leg ( by and a half inches) withered and with a stiff knee.
Still all this has not prevented my leading a more or less normal life and pursuing a satisfactory and lucrative professional career.

I certainly have no criticism to make of my medical treatment. All was done for the best at that time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dr Helen Turner, Craig-y-nos -late 1920s/early 1930s

James McNie, son of Dr Turner, emailed this additional information:

"I have discovered that the paintings gifted to my mother was by Claude Marks, the French artist, who painted a lot of coastal scenery in south-west England.
My wife remembers more clearly than I did, that my mother said they were given to her by a relation of the artist, which would make more sense, as the artist died in around 1915 I think. The relation was a patient, possibly.

Someone else has said that the painting is almost certainly part of the Gower Peninsula, and they refer to its typical limestone cliffs.

I wonder what happens to old medical and staff records for a place like Craig-y-nos Castle Sanatorium...

I really don't have a lot more information I could give you about my mother's time at Craig-y-Nos, although she spoke of it fondly and frequently enough almost up to her death at 93.

I came across her TDD (Tuberculosis Diseases Diploma) certificate from Cardiff University a few days ago, which was awarded in 1931.
Apparently she had a particular talent in reading X-rays, to the extent that the Prof. chairing the Viva Committee on radiology, waived the requirement for her to undergo the X-ray interpretation section - she was his student and he assured the rest of the Committee that they would all be wasting their time having her interpret them for them, as he would vouch for her personally - recounting that always gave her great amusement! She had come out with the highest marks in that section of her training in any event."

Lottery funding given

Great news! just heard from Dr Carole Reeves, Outreach Historian with The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London that our appliation for a £5,000 grant to publish a print-on-demand book of "The Children of Craig-y-nos" has been granted.

So it is full steam would be great if we could have the book out in time for the exhibition this summer in Swansea. Maybe we are being a bit optimistic but this is something I am going to try and aim for.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dr Helen Turner, Craig-y-nos -late 1920s/early 1930s

Dr Helen Turner, Craig-y-nos

I have just received an email from the son, James McNie, of Dr Helen Turner, MB ChB (Edin) TDD (Cardiff) who had been a young house surgeon in the late 1920s/early 1930s at Craig-y-nos.

He says:
" She died at 93, in 1995, but had always spoken with affection of the beauty of the gardens and the countryside around Craig-y-Nos, and of her experiences there, as a young physician, barely in her thirties.

I was staggered to find that on the upper floors, some of the layout remains unchanged from its time as a hospital, even still having french windows opening onto the balconies I can remember her telling me that patients would be wheeled out onto, in almost all weathers, for the fresh air. Rather more sobering, signs for the morgue were still extant.
I was profoundly moved to think both of her time there as a young physician, and of the young patients who must have spent a considerable portion of their young lives there, if indeed they survived.

gift to Dr Turner-artist C.Marks

Whilst there, she was presented with two paintings by a local artist, C. Marks, a copy of one of which I attach. I am hoping that if you live in Wales you may be able to positively identify the scenes depicted. I never found out whether Marks was a patient, or an admirer, or both! In the event you may know anything of the artist himself, I would be fascinated to learn more about him, too.

If you know of any group photographs taken of the staff in the early 1930s, and where I could see copies of them, either on the web, or elsewhere, I would be most appreciative of an opportunity to see if I could identify my mother in any of them. It appears that your Group is more from around the 1950s, but it occurs to me that there may be a more complete history covering its earliest era as a TB sanatorium. From Craig-y-nos, she also went to Talgarth Sanatorium, which is not so far away, but which I have not visited. In her old age, she also spoke often of some beautiful caves nearby the castle, but I have not been able to visit them yet - task for another day!"

Frst of all, does anyone remember Dr Turner? I am pretty certain that some ex-patients have mentioned her name but I need to check all my files to see when and who they were.

Secondly, can anyone throw any light on the painting either of the artist C. Marks or the scene depicted?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Beryl Rowlands 1956-57

Beryl with Tosca, the pony belonging to Dr Williams daughters, Ruth and Mary, which the girls would sneak off into the woods to ride using dressing gown girdles as halter.

Just got this email from Beryl:
I have just been reading Sylvia's account of her time at Craig y Nos I remember the Wimbledon incident well, I think it was 1957 and Anthea Gibson was the champion that year.Christine Bennet and myself tried to turn the little black and white TV for Sylvia to see it. I can also remember Sylvia's father bringing her a wooden musical box, I think it played 'My papa' I was delighted to know the wherabouts of Teresa O'Leary. I have often thought of Teresa.When I was admitted in 1956 I was put in the next bed to her, near the open fire . Teresa was very kind to me. I was 11years old I was terrified ,I was so far from my home at New Quay Cardiganshire and I was very homesick. Those first few days would have been far more difficult if it hadn't been for Teresa O'Leary. I have always remembered her with great fondness and gratitude. "

This is a very short extract from the interview given by Beryl to Dr Carole Reeves, Outreach Historian with The Wellcome Trust Centre for the Hisotry of Medicine, Univeristy College London.

“My return to Craig-y-nos… a time-bomb waiting to go off” - Beryl

“There were fifty years locked up in that one day when I returned to Craig-y-nos for the first time in January 2006 and I didn't realise that I had locked it up and that I hadn't been allowed to discuss anything. It never hit me until I walked in … I felt that I'd been hit with a sledge hammer when I came home. I just cried and cried. My husband said, 'What's wrong with you.' I couldn't stop crying - it was like a relief, I was releasing something. When I tried to speak to my daughter about it … I never really discussed it with them, not really. I told them funny stories but when I tried to speak to her about it, I just started crying and she said, 'What is the matter?' I said, 'I don't know. I can't stop crying.' And I carried on in this way.”

Her friend, Valerie Brent, who had nursed there as a 15 year old in the 1940s, asked her to accompany her to Craig-y-nos.

“I don't think she knew what she was bringing with her the day she took me.”

Neither realised that Beryl was an emotional time-bomb waiting to go off.
“I was a time-bomb, and it hit me badly. I'm glad I didn't have my family with me because I couldn't have relived it. I would have been hiding again.
“I walked in (to Craig-y-nos) and it felt as if a wall had fallen on top of me.

Len Ley (the local historian who showed me around) was wonderful. He chatted, and when he asked me things, I remembered some things he didn't know about.

When I walked into six-bedder, it was if somebody had punched me. I said, 'It's exactly the same … my bed was there. That window …'

I set somebody's hair with Amami setting lotion in a little tooth mug, and I poured the water out of the window, not looking out of the window, and it actually landed on the matron's head. And they came up to the ward. Oh, I had a row! I hadn't done it purposely, you know. I did say I was sorry.

Discovering TB
I was eleven when I went in to hospital in 1956.
I was always a very small puny little child anyway, but I had lost weight . I was in bed, I couldn't get up, and then of course this thing (Mantoux test) on my arm obviously showed that there was something wrong. I was having pains in my stomach, terrible pains. I used to cry in pain.

Nobody explained, it was as if I was in the dark. When I was better I went up to the library for my mother, and I met a girl my age - her name was Sian Evans, I've never forgotten that day. As I came out of the library with my mother's library books, she said, 'Oh hello Beryl. Are you better?' I said, 'Yes, thank you.'

And she said, 'How does it feel to have TB?'

The only time I'd ever heard about TB was when a girl in New Quay (Cardiganshire) had TB meningitis

New Quay was a village and I can remember people thinking she was going to die, so when Sian mentioned TB I ran home all the way, ran into the house and I ran straight upstairs onto my bed to cry.
My mother came up and asked what was wrong and I said, 'Why didn't you tell me I've got TB?' She said, 'You haven't got TB.' I said, 'Well Sian Evans says I have.'

I knew people worried about this girl with TB meningitis. This is what I was frightened me: that I was going to die.

The letter arrives
Later that week, a letter came, my father was away at sea so it was my mother and my sister and I at home. My brother had gone to a college up in Rugby.
When the letter arrived, she told me, 'You're going to have to go to hospital for a while.' I said, 'Why?' She said, 'Well, they're going to see if they can find out what's wrong with you properly.'

I didn't know where I was going. I don't think my mother knew how to deal with it. Then I can remember my father coming home and being told that I was going into hospial on Monday. I always remember it was Monday.

The journey to Craig-y-nos
There was a couple in New Quay. They had a taxi firm so my parents hired them to take us because they were friends and also their son had been a patient there back in the early fifties.

The taxi driver's wife came because she wanted to visit Craig-y-nos. She had a paper shop in New Quay, a newsagents, and she brought a big pile of comics and she said, 'They're for the children on the ward.'

It seemed a very, very long car journey, and I still didn't know why I was going.
Now, when I look at my grandson - he's soon eleven, I think, 'I'm sure he'd want to know more than I asked.' When we got there, we stopped in the lay-bye before you got to the hospital.

As we got back into the car, my father slammed the car door on my finger, jamming my finger. I'll never forget it, my finger was a mess, and he was upset, you can imagine.


Early impressions of Craig-y-nos

Joan, the deaf girl
I can remember this girl coming and sitting on my bed and grabbing my finger like in a wish and twisted my finger around, and I was looking at her and I thought, 'Who is she, what does she want?'

I was scared, and somebody said to me, 'She can't speak.' That was Joan (the deaf girl).

She said, 'She can't speak and she's trying to tell you she wants to be your friend.' She sat on my bed. I was tired, I was frightened and she was making me learn her language, her sign language. She was trying to teach me and then the nurse came and gave me a little book, and said, 'All the girls learn.' I still use sign language and I actually used it with my pupils.

Joan would come and sit on your bed and she'd sort of tap you quite nastily, hard. I was quite scared of her … she'd shake my hand and say that she wanted to chat. So we'd sit there. I got to know her and I liked her, I really liked her. I didn't like the fact that she was teased, but she was teased because I don't think people understood. I didn't tease her. I think I was too scared of the people who teased me. I used to hide away from them.

Beryl Richards (nee Rowlands) went on to become a primary school deputy headmistress. She is Welsh speaking and every time the media ask us for a Welsh speaker to talk about their time in Craig-y-nos Beryl always agrees to step forward. We are most grateful.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Patti's chapel from matron's flat to bridal suite!...

Easter is a time for weddings so that means Craig-y-nos Castle is going to be very busy.

The Patti theatre, the only listed private theatre in the country, is used today for the ceremony, with the reception taking place afterwards in the main drawing room - which was Ward 1.

But I wonder how many brides realise that the bridal suite used to be Patti’s private chapel? only a tiny stained glass window is a reminder of its original existence. During Patti’s day fresh flowers were put in there daily, a task once carried out by Ethel Rosate-Lunn, a former maid who later became known as the “poetess of the Tawe valley”.

On Patti’s death she was laid to rest in her private chapel.

After Craig-y-nos was turned into a sanatorium it became matron’s flat.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Return of the White Death

Picked up today’s Guardian to see that the first case of drug resistant TB has arrived in this country.
And its in Glasgow. A Somali man is being kept in isolation in Gartnavel hospital having arrived in this country a few months go.

The city used to be one of the worst, if not the worst, black spot for TB in the country with the outskirts of the city ringed with sanatoriums. One hospital alone catered for 500 children.

Now the first case of drug resistant TB is a mere 35 minutes down the motorway from my home...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dr Huppert trapped in lift

Dr Huppert

An uneasy relationship exists between Sister Winnie Morgan and Dr Huppert.

They share little in come except both work at Craig-y-nos and both are women though woman is not a word often used to describe Dr Huppert.

Indeed one child insists she’s a man.

No matter. It is enough to say that her gender leads to some confusion in the minds of small children.

I, for one, could not understand how a person could be a man with the top half of the body (cropped hair worn swept back and a deep guttural voice) yet the bottom half female ( thick stockings , women's legs, and women’s shoes).

Nevertheless I digress .

One day Dr Huppert gets stuck in the lift, a huge ancient contraption more like a cage than a mechanical device for moving people, dead and alive between floors.

The gates refuse to open.

She rattles them and the noise brings Sister Morgan from her office who, seeing her plight, bursts out laughing.

“Get me out of here!” shouts Dr Huppert.
Sister Morgan laughs louder.
All this noise brings us racing out of Ward 2 down the corridor to see what all the fuss is about.

“A shilling to view girls!” says Sister Morgan and titters at her own joke.

Dr Huppert begins shouting in a foreign language.

We are transfixed. We have never heard another tongue spoken before.

“I knew you reminded me of something ,” says Sister Morgan.
“I can see it now. You must be very closely related to a monkey, much closer than the rest of us.”

It’s true.
But unlike a caged animal, Dr Huppert is not going to remain in the lift for ever.

Clearly Sister Morgan is not thinking through the political implications of her blatant enjoyment of Dr Huppert’s discomfiture. She is too busy enjoying the moment.

This infuriates Dr Huppert even more and she becomes extremely vociferous , shouting even louder in this strange foreign tongue.

Whatever she is saying about Sister Morgan we fear it is not complimentary.

Time passes.
Sister Morgan continues to enjoy the sight of Dr Huppert's temporary imprisonment.

Nurse Glenys Davies appears. She suggests Sister Morgan should go and ring for the hospital engineer.
She does, somewhat relunctantly and emerges a few minutes later from her office , almost triumphant, with the news:

“He’s in Cardiff for the day.”
“You know the rules..” she adds.

We note a sense of satisfaction in her voice. She is smirking.
Nobody, but nobody except the hospital engineer is allowed to touch the lift.

So what to do? Sister Morgan is all for leaving Dr Huppert there for the rest of the day.

But Nurse Davies intervenes. She offers to try and free Dr Huppert.

First we are shooed back to our ward because the staff decide it is not appropriate for us to be relishing Dr Huppert’s temporary embarrassing circumstances.
Nevertheless we continue to peep through the glass door of Ward 2 as Dr Huppert paces up and down inside the lift, indeed like a caged gorilla.
It takes an uncommonly long time, despite Nurse Glenys Davies best endeavours, before she is freed.

Sister Morgan, we note, does not help. Rather she stands there offering advise.

For the rest of the day though Sister Morgan is in very high spirits. And to celebrate she puts Thomas, the hospital cat, in our food cupboard.
But that is another story.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Molly Barry and "the ghost"

It's happened again. I have spent the best part of the morning writing up Molly Barry's story only to find it disappeared...Molly talks about the night the children in Ward 2 woke shouting they had seen a figure in white and Molly was accused of doing it, except she didnt. She says the door of the "Six-Bedder" propped open that night with a heavy stool, suddenly closed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Swansea museum

Roy Harry (centre) with Valerie Brent (left), Valerie and Malcolm Shaw

Roy Harry and his partner, Valerie, helped dismantle the "Children of Craig-y-nos" exhibition in Brecon and transported it in their Volvo estate car to Swansea museum where it will remain in storage until the summer exhibition.

This is a photo of them outside Swansea museum with Malcolm , my husband, and Valerie Brent, former nurse at Craig-y-nos.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mary Sutton-Coulson- Dr. Williams daughter

The Adelina Patti theatre

Mary Sutton-Coulson, daughter of Dr Ivor Williams, tells us that when she and her sister Ruth, were children at Craig-y-nos they used to creep through the attic above their bedroom to listen to performances in the Adelina Patti theatre.

They were not, of course, allowed to mix with the patients for fear of infection.

Mary attended the Reunion last September and the two exhibitions.

She has also given a full oral history interview to Dr Reeves and supplied us with many interesting photos.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Nurses names?

This photo comes from Auntie Maggie's collection. Does anyone recognize these members of staff? From the background it looks like the Annexe.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The train driver with a child in Craig-y-nos- tooting as he passed the castle

Craig-y-nos Castle

Just another reminder of how many families were affected by TB in Wales and how their lives were interwoven with that of Craig-y-nos Castle:

Local historian, Will Davies, author of “Now and Then” an excellent series of books forming a photographic record of the Swansea Valley says:

“My aunt died of TB there before the
sister-in-law died there in 1980 on the cancer ward.”

He added:

“Whilst interviewing an old railwayman (Dai Hopkins of
Cadoxton) in the 1980s he mentioned the child of
another railwayman (Port Talbot) on the TB ward back
in the 1920s I you know, travelling then
was only by train and not too convenient so, whenever
a train passed by above the castle each driver would
toot on his those quiet days it was
easily audible and gave the child so much reassurance
that her parents were thinking of her...I've never
forgotten that poignant recollection.”

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pet rabbit on balcony

I have had a request for information relating to an English TB sanatorium which I have passed on to Dr Reeves who may be able to help.

It relates similar experiences to that at Craig-y-nos- even wanting to go back afterwards! In one respect it does differ- Yvonne, then a six year old, was allowed a pet rabbit on the balcony...

" I am not sure if this is the correct hospital, but I was in the Marguerite Hepton Hospital, Thorpe Arch from 1960 - 1961 with Ostiomylitus on the leg, they thought it was TB at the time. I was only 6 years old and my twin sister was only allowed to visit once a month. I am now 54 yrs old and have lost both parents and with very little recollection of the hospital people but |I know it will just take a jog of someone who remembers me to help it along. I am desperate to regain my memories of it all, but I do remember it was a happy time (well almost) I remember the balconies and that at one stage I had a pet rabbit there! and that when I went home eventually, I cried to go back!! I have tried over the last few years to find out if it is still there but to no avail, I do have a silver spoon that was presented to us at the time to celebrate the golden Jubilee (of the hospital) can you help??


Yvonne Farrer Nee Galert"

Unknown trio of girls- 1950s

Unknown trio of young girls on the balcony of Ward 2.
All we can surmise is that this was taken late 1950's because the balcony had been closed in.

Does anyone recognize them?

Back in Scotland...

Arrived home early hours this morning after a very long flight. Internet access on the ship was very expensive and in Hughada the two internet cafes I found were down.

So, normal blog service should resume now...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Craig-y-nos and the conference

Just heard from Dr Carole Reeves that the Craig-y-nos project has made this year's annual Medical Oral History conference in July. More details to follow.

Nurses the 21st century

Two young girls joined our dinner table last night. I thought at first they were American and Japanese. Wrong. Russian and Chinese.

More surprises followed. They are nurses. Guess where they are working? private hospital in Edinburgh!

"...on our last cruise"

"Old and young...we are all on our last cruise" ( Robert Louis Stevenson).

I thought of this when the Yorkshireman said to me at dinner the other night as we discussed our fellow travellers.
"You've got to be careful what you say..."
"What do you mean?"

Well...y'know...some people ill. Cancer. This is their last cruise."

I have to admit that I was a bit startled on the first morning when I did a tour of the ship to see so many people who looked distinctly poorly. I put it down to the after effects of a long flight and the sudden exposure to the sun. But after a few days of sunshine everyone looks so much better .

As for the seriously obese and we have lots of them on board, they are in clover with the 24 hour eating and drinking... on arrival you hand over your credit card and you do not have to use money ever again on board ship. Amazing. Not even in the shops.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Portholes versus windows

Like all who have been through the sanatorium regime I can't sleep with my window closed. Well, as you can guess this is something of a problem on a ship. No way could I have a cabin with a tiny porthole. So Malcolm ( bless him) agreed to upgrade so that I would have a window. Except it doesn't open. That would have cost an eye-watering amount more. So I am content with at least a proper view outside.

Missing girls names

I have had an email from Larry Perry. Christine ( nee Bennett) says she knows the names of some of the people on my blog dated Feb 27th.

They are (from left to right) Ann Davies, Pam Nicholls, unknown, Auntie Maggie, unknown and Margaret Howells.

Craig-y-nos March 9th 1950

This is a very special date in my memory. Even now I cannot let the 9th of March go by without remembering that day when father carried me, a very sick child from a remote Welsh farm into Craig-y-nos Castle, a place I would be incarcerated in for the next four years.

Today I have spent it on the deck of the cruise liner, "Celebration", reading.
Yesterday was much more energetic. We visited the hidden city of Petra and I rode a camel for part of the journey out of the deep canyon.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Craig-y-nos ghost on camera- Australia

The other day I posted a photo of a ghost caught on camera at Craig-y-nos. Today I found a comment on my blog from Naomi Kalogiros in Sydney, Australia who says she was astonished to see this photo. She captured it in March 2007!

Aqaba, Jordan

Well, I guess we are here...the boat is just offshore Aqaba. Yes, there is internet access but it is very expensive and slow. Next bit of bad news is that the machines do not allow you to use either Flash cards, or CD and I have put all my upcoming blogs ( photos) on a Flash card which I cant use.

I did not take the precaution of loading all my stuff into folders on the web in advance.

There was a fire drill this morning which I skipped. Having seen the "Titanic" film - three times- there is only one question you need to know: "Are there enough lifeboats on board?"

If the answer is "yes" then there is no need to go to a fire drill.
If the answer is "no".

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Red Sea- blog

If my postings are a bit erratic over the next week it is because I will be on a boat going around the Red Sea...I am assured it has internet access.

We shall see...

Reunion photos- Mary Sutton-Coulson

Mary Sutton-Coulson, Dr Ivor Williams daughter, has sent me a CD with lots of photos taken last September at Craig-y-nos.
These are from the Reunion lunch on the Sunday.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Sister Morgan- 1950s

Is this Lil Lorraine Jones with Sister Morgan? Please let me know if this is not

Going through my research notes yesterday I came across an incident in 1942 of Sister Morgan taking some girls blackberry picking and arranging for the cook to make them a tart.

I guess the regime toughened up after the arrival of Dr Huppert...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Craig-y-nos ghost on camera - ward 2

Those of us who spent years of our childhood in Craig-y-nos castle remember its legendary ghost stories.

So it was with interest that I opened an e-mail from Paranormal Downunder, a web-site specialising in ghostly activities, claiming to have captured a Craig-y-nos ghost on camera.

Ex-patients from Ward 2 will recognize the scene -the view down the corridor from the ward towards Sisters Office , the lift and the short staircase leading to the kitchen and down towards Dr Hupperts flat.

This was taken off one of the many cctv camera that now adorn the castle walls.

Yes, of course, as children we talked about the White Lady , she was a malevolent presence that we quickly became acquainted with on arrival at Craig-y-nos, a figure that inspired almost as much fear as that of Dr Huppert.

Since beginning this project I have received numerous accounts of “sightings” experienced by children and young adults during their time there. Compared to these stories my own hardly register on the Richter scale of ghost stories, nevertheless I will recount them, if only because of what happened those nights back in Craig-y-nos still cause me to sleep, if alone, with a sheet tightly wrapped about my head.

I woke one early summer morning on the balcony and was admiring the sunrise on the mountain opposite , the way the light dappled across the hills when I became aware of a presence, of being watched. At the other end of the balcony was a tall black figure with piercing eyes. This “creature” was neither man nor machine but some alien being and our eyes met for a second.

Petrified I dived under the bedclothes.

Months passed and summer drifted into autumn. I had pushed the incident aside except each night I took the precaution of sleeping with the sheet around my head.
Until one evening night sister, being more officious than usual, discovers me wrapped like some Egyptian mummy in a white sheet and pulls it off. I am ordered never, ever to cover my head again.

The next night I struggle to sleep without the comfort of the concealing sheet.

Suddenly, to my horror my locker door swings open.
A girl's voice says:
“It’s in the tin” and another replies:“ Yes it’s in the tin.”
Upon which I scurry under the bedclothes .

There was, of course, nobody there.
So, what was in the tin? only my collection of hair ribbons.

Did we confide our fears to an adult? no, we did not.

To the outside world the Adelina Patti hospital was a beautiful castle set in magnificent grounds providing secure employment for the locals. But for many children inside it was a different story.

Yet, here is the dichotomy, for months, even years afterwards, many former child patients say they longed to go back to the security of that institution.

It was as if some magic spell had been cast which we could not shake off.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Visiting Craig-y-nos - 1950

Mother, father and my brother David on the yard at Ty-Llangenny farm , near Crickhowell dressed ready for visit to Craig-y-nos.

It is appropriate on Mother's Day to think back to all those women who struggled for years to visit their children in Craig-y-nos.

Our family had a car and my mother could drive though my father never learnt to drive except a motor-bike and the tractors. Still in the depths of winter it was a hazardous and lonely journey over the Brecon Beacons often returning home through snow and gales across the mountains. After the first couple of years my father rarely visited, so much so that other children would ask if he was dead.

Throughout my four years there my mother never missed a month without visiting.

Some children, we know not the number since it is only anecdotal evidence from former staff members, were abandoned in Craig-y-nos for their parents had simply given up the attempt to visit finding it too much, especially if they were already burdened with poverty, unemployment and other sick children in the family.

But for most though it is is a remarkable story of dedication on the part of parents who made incredible efforts to make that journey up the Swansea Valley to the remote Craig-y-nos Castle.

One mother left home at 7 o clock in the morning from Carmarthen to being the long trek to the hospital, not returning until 11 o'clock that night. Others had to walk considerable distances in order to begin the convoluted journey on public transport.

So, I was lucky. Mother had a car.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

St. David's Day - first daff in the garden

It is appropriate that the first daffodil to emerge this year in our garden should do so this morning on St. David's Day. This is a minor miracle given the 60-70mph gales we had yesterday in Scotland.
One of the results of doing the "Childen of Craig-y-nos" project is that it has allowed me to re-connect with my Welsh roots, something I had almost lost.