Sunday, August 31, 2008

Craig-y-nos – BBC Radio Wales

Margaret Blake rang me lunchtime to say that the programme on the history of TB in Wales, which included Craig-y-nos, was being broadcast.

However, I can't get Radio Wales in Scotland so I am going to look for the programme online.

This is the link to it. Hope it works:

Incase you can't find it then search BBC Radio Wales
Past Master Sunday 12.30. BBC Radio Wales.

I have just listened to it and it is excellent.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Off duty nurses at Craig-y-nos, 1923

Dr Carole Reeves writes:
Who are the girls in this photograph from Neath Museum? I collected a list of nurses’ names from the staff registers for the early 1920s – they include Sisters Daisy Carne and Sarah Enoch, Staff Nurses Jessie Richards, Mary Jane Bennett and Olwen Hopkins, probationers Florence Lambert, Dorothy Jefferies, Gladys Russell, Winifred Law, Rachel Morgan, and S J Jones.

The turn round of nurses, particularly probationers, seems to have been fairly rapid but of course girls couldn’t remain at Craig-y-nos if they got married. Many girls liked the idea of nursing to fill in the time between leaving school and marriage. The ‘career’ nurse was a rare breed because it involved a dedication beyond marriage and a family. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the option to do both became accepted. In that decade the contraceptive pill revolutionised women’s lives.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gastric Lavages and guinea pigs

Dr Carole Reeves writes:

I think I have discovered the origins of this distressing procedure in an article published in the British Medical Journal, 3 March 1934, entitled ‘A note on the study of pulmonary tuberculosis in infants and children’ by G Gregory Kayne.

Kayne is reporting on diagnostic methods that he observed at the Hôpital Hérold in Paris. In order to check for TB you have to catch your germ. The TB germ is called tubercle bacilli. If it’s in the lungs it can usually be coughed up into sputum pots but young children find this very difficult. They cough but then swallow the phlegm. So now for the nasty part. Here’s how Dr Kayne described gastric lavage à la français:

‘The tubercule bacilli are looked for as a routine in a gastric washout. A suitable-sized stomach tube is introduced in the morning before the first feed, and 80 to 100 of warm water (with a trace of sodium bicarbonate) allowed to run in by holding the container about two feet above the child’s head; the gastric contents are then siphoned out by lowering the vessel …Armand-Delille and Lestacquoy (the French docs) claim eminently satisfactory results from this method, and consider it no more inconvenient to the child than swabbing the back of the pharynx (nose cavity) after a cough, or removing a small piece of mucus during a laryngeal (throat) examination.’ The gastric washout was usually sent to the laboratory to be injected into guinea pigs to see whether they developed TB.

By 1944 it was a very routine procedure at Craig-y-nos. In that year 82 children had a total of 169 gastric lavages. Of the 82 children, TB germs were found in 33, and the Welsh National Memorial Association had its own guinea pig breeding laboratory.

With hindsight, it’s a very traumatic procedure as most of the children who experienced it testify. Many can still recall the smell of the red rubber tubing. So how could medical staff appear so callously indifferent to the children’s obvious distress? Children who lived through the 1930s will often recall having their tonsils out with no anaesthetic – another common procedure. It was believed that children didn’t feel pain to the same extent as adults and that they would forget more easily. In the case of gastric lavage, the end justified the means. It was the best way to catch germs from kids who couldn’t cough.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Swansea exhibition

Nurse Glenys Davies

Great news! the exhibition has been extended to the end of September. So plenty of time for those who have not been there to go and see it.

Pamela Hamer with her husband

Nurse Glenys Davies went last week and she remembers Pamela Hamer. They had quite a chat.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Carol Hughes (née Davies). 1951-54, age 5

Carole in Ward 2

“If I won the Lottery I would buy Craig-y-nos and pull it down” - Carol

Carol was the first of the ex-patients to return to Craig-y-nos. Roy Harry followed, then myself.
Shortly after my visit I received an email from Carol and we began a lengthy email friendship in which she suggested I write a book about our time there.

I dismissed the idea. But she had planted the seed. Another year followed and another visit to Craig-y-nos before I finally made the decision to begin the search for “The Lost Children of Craig-y-nos”.

Carol's return to Craig-y-nos

“I was the first of the ex-patients to go back.
They offered me a meal and a room. They treated me like royalty, but I had to turn everything down because I couldn't eat there. I couldn't get out of there fast enough.
During the sanatorium period they made it important that you had to eat. (You had to do this and you had to do that. It puts you off, and even now there's things I won't eat. Carrots are top of my list! )
Thinking back, it wasn't suitable for children, and when I went back to visit, I couldn't face up to it.

Afterwards I got a phone call from Craig-y-nos to say another patient had turned up and they gave me Ann Shaw's email address.

Someone there was thinking of writing a book and I said to Ann, 'Look, you should do it because after all, we were the ones who suffered.'

Childhood in Craig-y-nos
I was five when I went in and about eight and a half when I came out, but I did leave there in 1952 for three months. I went to Sully, I had a lobectomy and I went back to Craig-y-nos.

They were strict, very strict.
I was one of these hyperactive kids and I was always in trouble. I got tied to the bed and I used to wander. Well, a lot of children did, when they could get out of bed they went in the grounds but I wouldn't, I'd wander round the cellars. I was a terrible child, I think. An awful child.

I remember Staff Nurse Smith. She used to read the Bible to us every Sunday because they were very, very religious.

I was always in and out of hospital from the time I was born. I was kept in hospital after I was born with bronchiectasis. I went from one hospital to another and then they sent me to Sully. It was there they found out that I had TB.

I'd lost so much weight. I think they sent me the first time to Craig-y-nos to die because my mother was crying. But I picked up and they sent me back to Sully to have the lobectomy. I had a relapse in 1957 and sent back to Sully. I didn't know I was ill. We never knew we were ill. Don't ask me why we thought we were there but we didn't know we were ill.

Children dying
I can remember the girls dying, and I asked Sister Morgan, 'Where has she gone?' 'She's gone home because she's too naughty to stay here.'

The longer we were there; we began to put two and two together. That they'd actually died, but there were a lot of lies. I don't know whether it would have been better maybe if they'd told us the truth because we knew.

The staff would say: 'they've gone home. They've been so naughty.' I thought, 'Well, how naughty have you got to be,' because I got out of bed and was squeezing toothpaste all over the floor, and they were so clean. The cleaners worked hard, and I was one of these naughty, naughty children, and then I'd get tied to the bed. But if a child hasn't got enough to do, they're going to do things like that.

They used to put the restrainers on you. It was like a harness and they'd tie you to the bed. We were given milk to drink. We were the younger children on the top floor. We were given milk in plastic beakers, and I can remember those now. It was awful.

There were two films shown on TV - when it went from the TB hospital to an old people's hospital in 1959, my mother said to me, 'Come and look at this.' They were showing it closing, and then again when it closed in the 1980s.

Daughter never knew I had TB
My husband said to my daughter, 'Oh, your mother was on TV last night in Craig-y-nos.' Then my daughter found out that I'd been there. She didn't know. I had difficulty when I came out. When you go to school, I could only go for half a day, and they'd say, 'Oh, you are the girl from the sanatorium,' and because it was TB, they didn't want even children to bother with us. We were singled out. I know that it's not the same now but it was something then.

Family with TB
My father had two cousins, one died in Craig-y-nos in 1937 so my father never came to visit. He wouldn't come there, and in 1939, another cousin died even though her father had bought a smallholding away from everyone. Despite the fresh air and food, this cousin still died. They had their own chickens and goats and grew their own food. They never had to go out, the girl had plenty of fresh air and she still died. So my father didn't have any faith in TB treatments.

I know of a lady who was in Craig-y-nos in the 1920s. I've only just found out. I'm friendly with her son. He's a neighbour of mine. He said that his mother's father, who was a miner, would walk across the Beacons to the hospital to visit her.

Never talked about it
No, I never told anyone I had been in Craig-y-nos. In fact, I was going back and forth to the Neath Chest Clinic, and when I got to be a teenager, my friends would say, 'What are you going there for?' So, I went in and said, 'I don't want to come here any more.' I explained to them why and they said, 'Fine, but if you get any chest problems, tell us.' They said I should go straight away to the clinic, don't leave it.

Letters censored
We got visitors once a month, on a Saturday I think. We were allowed to write home but all the letters were censored. You had to write what they told you, and parcels coming in would be opened. Letters were censored. The only one that wasn't opened was when I was going home. I had a letter on a Thursday and Nurse Glenys Davies gave it to me. She said, 'Can you read this?' I said, 'Of course I can read,' and I opened it. It said, 'Dear Carole, I'm fetching you home Tuesday.' So I had to run after the nurse. I gave her the letter and she said, 'I thought you could read.' I said, 'But I can.' I was reading it alright but I couldn't work out 'going home Tuesday'. I can remember that letter, and the Queen's Coronation. They showed pictures of the country and they showed the Victoria Garden in Neath. One of the nurses said to me, 'Look, that's where you are from.' We were watching an old black and white TV, and I couldn't work out what she was telling me. I'd been home on the odd day or two but I had been in hospital most of the time. But it was in Sully that they found the TB.

Never knew I had a brother
I've got one brother, and I didn't know I had one. When I came out of Craig-y-nos, they were waiting by the fountain in the forecourt with my brother, and my mother said to me, 'This is your brother.' I looked at him, and I didn't know I had a brother.
She said later on that she didn't tell me about him in case I got jealous or something. I don't get on with my brother to this day. It was not knowing about him from the start, I think.

If you did something wrong, they'd pull your bed out in the middle of the ward or take it outside of the door and say, 'Right, you're in disgrace. You just wait till Dr Huppert comes.' Then she'd come. She had a limp and she'd be shouting at us, but she was a good doctor.
Many of us are alive now because of her. Sister Morgan was lovely.

Having children
When I had my eldest daughter, Elizabeth, I couldn't feed her myself. They wouldn't allow it. They thought it would be advisable if I didn't have a lot to do with her handling until she was six weeks old, and of course, that upset me. So when I had my other two daughters, I had them at home. They are alright, they're healthy, but I didn't like the way I was treated then. But they thought they were doing it for the best.

Never asked permission to have children
I never bothered to ask if I could have children. I'd signed myself off at the chest clinic and I had the three children, and they're healthy, and I've got three grandchildren.

I know with Elizabeth I did everything they told me, and at the end they said, 'You know, you can't feed this child yourself and it will be better if you didn't handle her much until she's six weeks old.' I listened to that. So, when I had the other two, I thought, 'This isn't going to happen,' so I had them at home, but they did have to have the vaccination (BCG) at six weeks old.

I had an allergy to streptomycin
because I can remember when I was having Elizabeth they wanted to give me streptomycin for ten days before she was born and ten days after. My mother said, 'You can't do that. She's got an allergy to it.' That's when I found out that I had an allergy, but when I had a relapse in 1957, they gave me about six or seven little pills. Very small pills. I don't know the names of them, but I do know that one could affect your liver. So, every month I'd go for blood tests to make sure that my liver was alright.

I know that I had six or seven little pills, and I know that one pill could make you depressed so they were giving me another pill then to buck me up. I was weaned off one of the pills because I got down to one every other day and then it would be half a week.

But because I didn't know what was going on, it didn't affect me.

I had a friend there, Olwyn Price,
and I don't know what happened to her. We all had a friend each and she was older than me but she was my friend. I went back to visit her after I came out. My mother took me back there, but I never heard what happened to her, whether she's still alive.

Sully and Craig-y-nos
I wasn't too good and I can remember being in a side room and my mother crying on visiting days. I was sleeping. I was out of it, most of the time. The first thing I remember after the lobectomy in Sully was they put me in the big ward and the matron came round and she said, 'How many days to Christmas?' I said, 'It's eighteen days.' From there on in, I was getting on leaps and bounds. They took me down to see their pantomime.

Harry Secombe
In 1953, I was on the stage (Adelina Patti Theatre) with Harry Secombe singing 'Jingle Bells'. That's got to be December '53 because by then I was really on my feet.

Salvation Army
The Salvation Army used to come along to the grounds and play music. They must have thought we were terrible. We were hanging out of the windows through the bars. My mother at first thought it was awful having bars on the windows but then she could see why they had to have them.
My bed was the second one away from the windows, so with the windows open both ends, when the weather turned cold or wet we'd have covers on our beds. The ones nearest the windows would get a soaking (wet). My mother would come in with a coat on, a hot water bottle in her coat, that's how cold it was, and we had to sit there, but we'd got used to it.

There was the old kitchen there, and in the old kitchen there was a big black grate. There was a table and an old Welsh dresser. I'd go in there and play. They never cleaned the grate out. The ash was still there in the grate, and I don't think the hospital were lighting fires there. I thought it was lovely in there, fantastic. It even had one of these big china sinks inside. When it was built they had a tap outside, and that's what they must have used in the beginning. We were only allowed one toy so I had my teddy bear because my grandfather bought it, so everything that I didn't want them to see I'd sneak down there. One of the gardeners used to leave a bit of chocolate for me.

Yes. He'd leave a bit of chocolate there for me, and any food I didn't want I'd put in a carrier bag and take it out and dump it. It was terrible. I would dump it and they thought I'd eaten it because if I didn't eat the food, it would be given back to me. So once you could get out of bed, it was lovely.

I know that at night they'd say that if you didn't go to sleep they'd put you down the cellars with the rats. I didn't mind, it was lovely down there.

Other children used to go down too. They used to go on the roof too. I went up there once and didn't get caught. There was a little door and you'd go up the few stairs to the roof.

Visitors and lockers searched
When visitors came, stuff that they brought had to be handed in to the sister and I had to have my locker searched.

If you'd got something you weren't supposed to have, they'd take it. It was a bit like a prison but they wanted to make sure you ate your food and they could give you a sweet after. I didn't eat my food. When I went back there two years ago, I said, 'What an awful place to have kept children in.'

But it was out of the way and we had to be out of the way.

We had schooling with Mrs Thomas and the thing was you couldn't bunk off from school when you were there. We mainly learned to read.

We used to make flowers out of wax. We used to have wire and you'd have the wax and the warmth of your hands would melt it and you could mould it into shapes of petals. We'd make little flowers. I think the older ones used to do basketwork. I learned to knit, only plain and pearl. I can knit anything now but we only learned plain and pearl. Little squares we used to knit. We had a rest hour in the afternoon.

I hated the rest hour because with some nurses you wouldn't dare move. You had to stay still and that really wasn't fair on children.

Girl dying
I can remember one girl dying there in the night and it frightened the life out of me. I wasn't more than about seven and her bed was opposite mine and she started coughing. When I looked I thought she'd fallen. I noticed blood on her mouth and I shouted. They all started shouting. There were fifteen of us up there, and an orderly came in and took her out, and when we asked Sister Morgan the next morning …

'Where is she?' 'Oh, we've had to send her home. She was naughty.'

The morgue
Then it didn't take me long to find out where the morgue was. The lift would carry them down to the basement, and there was a door going through to the morgue. I don't think I put two and two together what was in there although I knew they were going there.

Blood tests
I had one or two blood tests before I went to Sully.
Dr Huppert did them. I screamed the place down.
There was no getting away from it. You were there and they were there, and what could you do?

I never had a gastric lavage. They'd say when they were doing it and children were coughing, 'Don't cough, don't cough, don't choke.' We'd be watching them. It was really, really cruel.

Little sisters
When I went home and I found out that I had this brother, and my mother was trying to get me to sleep in the night. She said, 'You've got a brother.' I said, 'But I had fifteen sisters there.' We were treated like sisters. That's what we were called. We had each other.

Adjusting to home life
My mother thought she wouldn't have trouble with me when I went home but for all it was, you were safe in Craig-y-nos. When you came out you had all this about being 'the girl from the sanatorium.'
In school I was always 'the girl from the sanatorium.'

They wanted to know why I was only going to school in the mornings. My mother was told, 'only send her in the mornings. She needs to rest in the afternoons.'
Then I started going to school full-time and I ended up back in Sully. It was terrible.

When I left school, my mother wanted me working somewhere in a shop but I said no. I went to a factory to work.
Against the doctors' and my mother's wishes I worked in an aluminium factory and I was happy. I loved it there. Then I got married and I had the children so I stopped work. I loved that job and nobody knew about my past there.

Looking back on Craig-y-nos
We were taught to share, and my mother could never get that out of me because I always did share. If I had one of something I'd share it. We were taught that there.

When I had my three children I realised we weren't naughty in Craig-y-nos. We were just doing what children did. We played.
The cleaners did keep the place spotless there. They had the laundry bins and some of us would sit in there and we'd ride around in them.

Well, to them we were bad children. We were told, 'You are very naughty children.' Looking at children now, no we weren't. We were just looking for things to do.

We were bored.
If you moved in rest hour you would be punished.
and if you had difficulty dropping off to sleep at night you were disciplined for that as well. 'We'll put you down the cellar with the rats.'

I didn't mind it down there. In fact, I took a lot of little bits and pieces down there and I could play. Nobody bothered you.

I used to go out sometimes. Yes, they thought I was outside. We didn't often see any nurses or anything because I went on the roof - only once, but I went up there. I got back down and I wasn't seen. We were left to watch each other. I used to collect daisies for this girl, Olwyn, who I was friendly with and she'd make daisy chains. She couldn't go out.”

To-day Carol is married with three children and three grandchildren. Unfortunately her health isn't too good:
“ I've got COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
Well, they said it could be a result of TB. There's a weakness there from when I was small. I get good days and bad days.”

On another return visit
I was there at Craig-y-nos one day and they had all these Tarot card readers and faith healers. This woman was talking about self-healing. They didn't know I'd been there. She said, 'As you know, we've got AIDS now and it's the same thing as TB …' I looked at her and said, 'Oh, my God,' and I walked out the door. That's what they're linking it with now, AIDS and TB. They're two different things.
I felt terrible. I felt awful when I heard that.

After my last visit I looked at the building and thought, 'If I won the Lottery I'd buy that and pull it down.'

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Craig-y-nos – 1950 and no trained Sisters

Sister Rich with staff nurse ( unknown).

These photos, taken during 1949-1950 come from the collection of Mari Friend ( nee Jenkins) sister of Llywella Jenkins ( now deceased).

Does anyone know the names of the above staff?
if so email

Dr Carole Reeves writes:
Hospital inspectors from the General Nursing Council for England and Wales visited Craig-y-nos for the second time on 18 October 1950, having refused its application to be a training school for nurses five years earlier.

Had things improved?

The inspectors noted ‘several improvements’, including handbasins in the wards and crockery sterilisers in the ward kitchens. There were still four wards in the main building but the annexe had been constructed to house 22 women patients. There was in addition an operating theatre, X-ray department, plaster room, light treatment room, dental department, and out-patient facilities.

The number of in-patient beds was 136 of which 132 were occupied by 61 women and 71 children. The Patti Pavilion for 24 women was considered light and airy with modern bathrooms and toilets. However, the babies’ ward in the glass conservatory, which contained 30 cots plus 10 on the verandah, ‘appeared to be overcrowded’.

There were certainly more trained staff in 1950 than in 1945. The matron and 11 of the full-time nurses had qualifications, either State Registered Nurse (SRN) or State Enrolled Assistant Nurse (SEAN), as did the two part-time staff nurses. Interestingly, none of the ward sisters had the higher qualification (SRN). So, Sister Morgan, Sister Outram, Sister Roberts and Sister Powell weren’t really qualified to be in charge at all, except that they’d been in post for so long that their experience probably made up for some (but not all) of their scientific knowledge. Otherwise, why would they believe, as many did, that girl’s long hair had to be cut because it took the strength from their bodies!

Dr Williams and Matron Knox-Thomas said that they were anxious to have State Registered Nurses but there was little or no response to advertisements for staff nurses. In addition, there were 6 nursing assistants. The working day was very long by today’s standards – a day shift was from 7am to 8pm, with only one day off a week; a night shift was 8pm to 7am, with 3 weeks on duty and one week off.

Recommendation: that the children’s wards be provisionally approved for training pupil nurses from Brecon and Radnor providing they didn’t stay longer than 2 months, that they were supervised by State Registered Nurses, and that bedpan and instruments sterilisers were installed. Not much change in five years considering that, in 1948, the National Health Service took over the hospital from the Welsh National Memorial Association.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Death rates in Craig-y-nos

Dr Carole Reeves writes:

We’ve been curious to discover the accurate death rates since there are few existing records relating to the hospital. Many people talk about friends ‘disappearing’ during the night but it’s hard to get at the actual numbers.

I was very disappointed to find at the National Library of Wales that there were only two Annual Reports of the Welsh National Memorial Association, one for the year ended 31 March 1935 and one for 1945. Whatever happened to the others?

The most comprehensive was the 1935 Annual Report, which revealed that from December 1933 to December 1934 the death rate in Craig-y-nos was about 15 per cent but most of these (12.5 per cent) were adults. At the time, the hospital was still admitting adult men. The ratio of adults to children during that year was exactly 50:50.

The death rate from TB for the whole of Wales in 1938 was 0.08 per cent compared with the rate in England of 0.06 per cent. At the moment, I’m not sure that it will be possible to find a good set of death rate figures for Craig-y-nos over the years but the rate for 1934 does reveal that children were better survivors than the adults.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

David Pearce - St Brides hospital, 1947-52

David Pearce just rang with his story.

He was in St Brides hospital with TB in the leg in 1947 as a 11 year old. He was there until 1952.

He has written a book ( self-published) about his experiences and says that on the whole his time there left him with many happy memories. He remembers on one occasion the boys bought stink bombs through the Beano magazine and let them off one night...

He organised the first reunion in 2002 and over 100 people turned up. Now he has them annually and the next one will be on the weekend of May15-17.

David lives in Preston and before he retired worked for British Rail- in the complaints department.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Craig-y-nos -No attempt to train nurses

Dr Carole Reeves writes:

In November 1945, members of the General Nursing Council for England and Wales visited Craig-y-nos to assess its suitability as an approved Training School for Nurses. This is part of their report:

‘A country mansion adapted as a Hospital which is neither compact nor convenient. The large rooms make four wards but the sanitary annexes were inadequate. There were no facilities for nurses’ handwashing except the kitchen sink, and no attempt was made to sterilise the patients’ crockery. Main kitchen was not good. Laundry small but adequate with disinfector adjacent.’

The single storey nurses’ home accommodated 18 nurses in 8 single and 5 double rooms, with 6 handbasins, 2 baths and 2 w.c.’s. The Sisters slept in a separate home and the night nurses in a flat apart from the home. Only Matron Knox-Thomas and the Assistant Matron were state registered nurses (SRN). The 4 ward ‘sisters’, 1 night ‘sister’ and 4 ‘staff nurses’ were not state registered. In addition there were 12 assistant nurses with over 2 years’ experience and 6 student nurses who were preparing for the Tuberculosis Association Examination. The day nurses worked 54 hours a week and the night nurses 72 hours a week. Teaching facilities were considered ‘poor’. Lectures were given in the Patti Theatre by the Deputy Medical Officer (Dr Hubbard) and the Assistant Matron.

The inspectors summed it up: ‘There is no attempt to train nurses. Apart from the Matron and Assistant Matron there is no trained supervision, day or night. The patients appear comfortable and happy. Disinfection is adequate, sputum properly dealt with, gowns provided for nurses.

A number of boys between 4 and 8 years, and several children under 4 were tied in bed with restrainers, except at night. The poison cupboard key was left hanging in the Duty Room.’

Recommendation: ‘That this Hospital should not be granted approval as a Training School for Nurses.’

Had things improved by the time the inspectors visited in 1950? Read the next installment to find out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The real Mr Christie

Dr Carole Reeves writes:

Although the name ‘John Christie’ can’t be too unusual, there happens to have been a porter of that name working in Craig-y-nos around the same time that the infamous murderer was at large. Christie the murderer’s association with Timothy Evans from Merthyr Tydfil adds a further intrigue to the story.

Roy Harry, who was in Craig-y-nos as a three-year-old in the early 1940s, has always been certain of a connection between the two Christie’s after seeing a photograph of the killer in a newspaper and ‘recognising’ him as the porter.

Last year I looked at some of the Christie files in the National Archives and came away fairly certain that he was never employed at Craig-y-nos. Christie’s jobs, addresses and war service records are very well documented. However, in the National Library of Wales, I discovered the Craig-y-nos porter’s staff file – a most unexpected and welcome find. It does confirm that John G Christie, employed by the Welsh National Memorial Association from 1913, couldn’t have been the man behind the murders at 10 Rillington Place.

John G Christie was appointed Head Porter at Glan Ely Hospital, near Cardiff on 30 April 1913, the very year that the other Mr Christie left school at 15 and started work as an assistant cinema operator near his home in Halifax. Our Mr Christie was transferred to Craig-y-nos on 7 August 1922, soon after the hospital opened. His employment record from 1913 to 1935 is continuously documented (confidentiality rules prevent access to documents after this date), and others recall him being at Craig-y-nos during the 1940s.

It’s interesting to speculate whether Christie the Porter was teased for sharing the same name as the gruesome killer or whether people simply kept quiet. From what we know of his character, our own Mr Christie wouldn’t have seen the funny side.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kensington TB hospital, St. Brides, Pemb.coast

Kensington TB hospital, St. Brides

Dr Carole Reeves writes:

Dr Ivor Williams forced to leave Craig-y-nos

Dr Williams’ daughter Mary, hinted that her father had been at Craig-y-nos twice but didn’t know any details. I managed to find the full story in his staff file at the National Library of Wales.

Dr Williams was first appointed Medical Superintendent in October 1937 on the retirement of Dr Lizzie Clark (who’d been at Craig-y-nos for 10 years). He’d previously been Senior Resident Medical Officer at Glan Ely Hospital, a sanatorium near Cardiff. Dr Williams and his wife settled into newly refurbished accommodation near the Patti Theatre.

By the summer of 1939, however, he was asked to transfer to Kensington Hospital, St Brides Bay, Pembrokeshire, so that Dr Fenwick Jones could take over at Craig-y-nos. Fenwick Jones, at that time Medical Superintendent to North Wales Sanatorium, was said to be ‘in indifferent health’ and Craig-y-nos was seen as a soft option to keep him in a job ‘without loss of status’ – these are the exact word in a confidential file dated 4 August 1939.

Needless to say, Dr Williams’ wasn’t best pleased, and wrote to the Welsh National Memorial Association: ‘We are still very reluctant to leave Craig-y-nos after our efforts to succeed here, but if you can find no other solution to the problem we are prepared to accept the verdict with as good a grace as we can muster.’

And so he and his wife went to St Brides, a sanatorium for children with TB of the bones, until October 1947 when Fenwick Jones eventually retired. In that 10 years, although he worked hard to make a success of his new hospital, it is clear that he wasn’t altogether happy and applied for at least three jobs – at Birmingham, Abergele and Gloucester.

The photographs show two views of Kensington Hospital (given to the Association for use as a sanatorium by the 6th Baron Kensington) in about 1930.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

‘Reds under the Beds’- Dr Jarman

Dr Carole Reeves writes:

Byron Sambrook described Dr Jarman as an ‘out and out communist’ when he was a patient in the 1940s, and Jarman was indeed a paid up member of the Communist Party, as I discovered in his file at the National Library of Wales.

Dr Thomas Francis Jarman qualified at Durham University in 1927 and went to America on a two-year fellowship. Afterwards, he worked in several British sanatoria including Glan Ely, near Cardiff, at the same time as Dr Williams (1934). In 1938 he wanted to stand as councillor for the Bridgend Labour Party but was stopped by the Welsh National Memorial Association. He then tried to organise an exhibition of Russian photography at Neath Library, which the Town Council barred as being ‘propagandist’. He was a member of the Socialist Medical Association of Great Britain in 1941 along with a number of prominent TB experts including Philip D’Arcy Hart (who ran the Streptomycin trial in 1947).

Dr Jarman went to Craig-y-nos in 1941 to replace Dr Doherty who had joined the army. Four years later, having unsuccessfully applied for a number of jobs and been (as he saw it) passed over for promotion within the Association, he was asked by the Neath branch of the Communist Party to stand for election to Neath Borough Council. Once more, he was prevented and subsequently applied for a post in New Zealand, which he didn’t get. Eventually, in 1946, he was awarded a Fellowship to research TB in the USA, a place with zero tolerance of communism.

Jarman’s important contribution to TB was his ‘letters from America’, reporting the first uses of Streptomycin to the Medical Research Council (MRC) Streptomycin Committee. The Committee praised him for providing ‘the best and most up to date information which they have so far received on the subject.’ The MRC’s Streptomycin trials began in England and Wales in January 1947, and in February Jarman wrote to Dr Tattersall at the Association: ‘I am anxious to impress on you that we should fight for the maximum amount of Streptomycin that we can possibly get, and that we should be included in a liberal way in any Streptomycin studies that may be started at home.’ In fact the British government could only afford to buy 50 kg of the antibiotic from the USA at a cost of $320,000, a huge sum of money in the post-war era, and only 100 patients went into the trial, half of whom received Streptomycin.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Carole Hughes (nee Davies)-visit to exhibition

Carole, age 5, Craig-y-nos 1951-54

Carole Hughes has just sent me this email:
"On Saturday August 9th I went to Swansea museum to the exhibition I did enjoy it even though it rained so heavy outside. I met nurse Valerie Brent that was so lovely and I spoke to her.
There were a few visitors there. They were emotional seeing how we were and they all wanted to put their arms around me which was a big change from the time we had TB .

I was the first of the old patients to go back to Craig y nos in 2004 I went there twice and could not face going there again but I will be there for the launch of the book."

It was Carole who first suggested to me that I should write a book about Craig-y-nos, something I put off for over a year until a return visit finally spurred me on when I discovered that there was nothing, absolutely nothing, known about the time it was a children's TB sanatorium.

(N.B. Carole was also in Sully.)

Patti’s glass conservatory

Dr Carole Reeves writes:
This is a photograph of the glass conservatory as it was in about 1900 and used as a dining room by Adelina Patti for her numerous weekend guests including the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII.

This picture is from a very elaborate brochure which Patti had prepared for the auction of Craig-y-nos on 18 June 1901. As we all know the estate wasn’t sold, whether because she changed her mind or because there were no buyers, I haven’t yet been able to discover. In any event, when the Welsh National Memorial Association purchased it for a TB sanatorium in 1922, it’s clear that they considered it to be little more than temporary accommodation because of its unsuitability as a hospital. In 1937, the normal bed capacity was 126. The maximum capacity was 176. These additional beds could be found by crowding, which gave an additional 30 beds, and equipping other existing accommodation, which provided an extra 20 beds.

By 1939, when it was first proposed to construct a purpose-built hospital at Singleton, Swansea, the Association was not keen to spend money on Craig-y-nos. It noted that: ‘Better staff accommodation will have to be provided if the institution is to be retained, but the wisdom of spending more money on keeping and extending and improving the institution is seriously doubted.’

The hospital soldiered on for another 20 years, being patched up and painted but it appears that no serious money was thrown at it. The picture below is from an Association publicity brochure of about 1932 showing Patti’s glass conservatory as we all know it but it’s one that I don’t think we have in our vast collection.

The Glass Conservatory as a Children's Ward- circa 1932

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Mystery of the Missing Marmite

Dr Carole Reeves writes:
Does anyone remember having Marmite in Craig-y-nos? No? Well, perhaps that’s not surprising because I’ve uncovered a series of angry letters from The Marmite Food Extract Company in 1938 to the Welsh National Memorial Association as follows:

‘… we have been receiving a considerable number of complaints that 1 lb tins of Marmite supplied by us in your district have found their way into the homes of private individuals and we fear, therefore, that there is some source of leakage in your organisation and as a result, the purpose for which we supply you with our product in tins, ie. for the benefit of hospitals, institutions, etc. is not being adhered to.’

Was there a black (pardon the pun) market in Marmite? After a steely silence in which the Association investigated this accusation of sticky-fingered staff, it wrote back:

‘Under our regulations and contract specifications and conditions, members of the staff of the Association (whose organisation includes 18 hospitals and sanatoria, and some 100 dispensaries and visiting stations throughout Wales, with a research laboratory, educational campaign, and the central administration) have the right to be so supplied, for their personal use, at the contract price applicable to the Association.’

Surely a case for the Marmite soldiers to be guarding the stock …

Monday, August 11, 2008

National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

National Library of Wales

Dr Carole Reeves writes:
As you’ll all know by now from the new stories emerging on the blog, I spent a week in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, researching the final archives for the book. I’d like to thank Beryl Evans and her colleagues for making it possible to get through an enormous amount of boxes, volumes and files of archives in such a short time.

I’d never been to Aberyswyth before so it was a treat even though I was working. The Library is a beautiful building with great exhibition space – there were four exhibitions on during the week I was there – an ideal venue indeed for ‘The Children of Craig-y-nos’.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Highland Moors- old boys return

Jeff Green, the new owner of Highland Moors, says:

" We have had about 25 of the boys come back and visit; we have their names and addresses.
We believe that Highland Moors was a sanatorium from 1932 to 1957."

Many thanks for this info. Jeff.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Highland Moors TB sanatorium

Highland Moors

Dr Carole Reeves writes:
A number of boys including Clive Rowlands and Haydn Beynon were sent to Highland Moors, at Llandrindod Wells, after their stay in Craig-y-nos, but couldn’t recall many of the details other than having a much better time with more activities. I managed to find some information on Highland Moors from various files in the National Library of Wales, including a publicity brochure produced by the Welsh National Memorial Association in about 1932.

Highland Moors was a private hotel in 28 acres of ground, which was sold at auction on 31 July 1931 and purchased by the Association. It housed sixty boys and staff, and was intended for the treatment of boys with TB of the lungs and bones who did not have active disease (in other words, they weren’t infectious) or who were convalescent. The institution consisted of a large central building which provided administrative and staff quarters and sleeping accommodation for the boys. A school and gym were in a separate building. The Association may have purchased additional land because the brochure mentions the grounds being sixty acres, which offered ample scope for recreation and for possible future developments.

Highland Moors is now a guesthouse which describes itself as a ‘former Victorian hydro spa hotel’
HighlandMoors – no mention of its use as a TB sanatorium. Perhaps someone would like to give a history lesson to its current owners.

Byron Sambrook- ex patient- 1943-45

Byron Sambrook has sent a further email as more memories come flooding back:

"Boys were not allowed out into the grounds on a regular basis but I do remember being on the bridge and looking back at the hospital on one occasion but that could be my imagination ."

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Byron Sambrook- more information

A further email from Byron Sambrook:

One winters night we were all woken up by a unholy row only
to be told in the morning that a fox had killed the swan, or swans,
and all that was left was a load of feathers.

On another occasion we dared a boy to go down to the bridge over
the river and when he got there he had to flash a torch to let us
know he was there. He climbed down the pillar of the balcony (there
was no stairway) and ran down all the way and a light flashed, he
came back, climbed up onto the balcony, all for a bar of Cadbury's

There was a large search the following morning as the
light had been seen and reported and poachers were suspected.

I don't remember being restrained for misbehaving but something
happened to me which i still remember, that was having my toenails
cut by a Nurse Davies and they were cut so short that my three middle
toes on both feet bled quite profusely and to this day I have a
double nail on each of these toes.

The boy who moved to Highland Moors with me was a David Schickle
from Maesteg. I met him about twenty years later while we both
worked at steel company of Wales.

At 77 years I am lucky inspite of a lobectomy on my left lung, TB
scaring on my right lung, TB spine, 2 hernias, high blood
pressure,angina and dupretons contractions on both hands.

My wife and I celebrated our Golden Wedding two years ago with a
cruise . We have two fine boys the eldest has been working in
Shanghai these past 5 years and is now in Muscat with his family.
My other son is also married with one daughter and has his own business."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Byron Sambrook- ex patient- 1943-45

I was surprised when my doctor informed me
that there was an exhibition in Swansea museum regarding Craig-y-nos.

I have been to see it and it was very interesting, but there were no photographs of my era as I was a patient there between 1943-45.

I first went into 'white ward' then out onto the balcony where I spent the rest of my stay. It was during the war years and of course there were no cameras and therefore no photographs.

I remember Nurse Davies. There was also a Sister Fischer there who was a Swiss subject and could not return home, she was a charming woman and spoilt us rotten, and when another patient and I was moved up to Highland Moors in Llandrindod Wells she accompanied us by taxi.

The Doctor was a Dr Jarman, he was based in Neath and visited
regularly, he was an out and out communist in those days but he had mellowed by the time I got home and visited the chest clinic in Neath.

There was a older boy there called Len Smalldon, from Swansea,
who had open wounds on his hands , face and leg, and he had to have
several operations while I was there and he screamed the house down
when they changed his dressing.

Other patients were on iron frames, sometimes for years...
the exhibition brought back old memories.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

National Library of Wales , Aberystwyth

Dr Carole Reeves was in Aberystwyth for the past week doing research in the National Library of Wales into the Adelina Patti hospital for the "Children of Craig--nos" project.

It has thrown up some gems of information, particularly regarding staff.

Soren Hayes-ex-patient and visitor to exhibition

Soren Hayes, who was in Craig-y-nos as a three year old, called in to see the Swansea exhibition. He told Valerie Brent that he has few memories at all of his time there.

He believes he caught TB from an aunt who came to live with them so that his mother could nurse her. She went into Craig-y-nos and later died there.

Dr Reeves says it was quite common for children to pick up TB from sick adults in the house.