|There were only two children's wards at the Royal
Hospital, so they came to convalesce at The Beeches after
I worked at The Beeches from March to August 1966 before
starting my nurse training proper. At that time the dual
carriageway had not been built so the front garden was much
larger. It had a stone wall at the front, a lovely sweeping
drive, and a lot of trees.
On the ground floor was the main ward and dining room, a
very wide room for children and toddlers up to about 9 to
ten years old. There were about 20 beds, spread along the
two end walls, and a low table in the middle where the
children could sit at meal times. Inside the large bay
window on the left-hand side of the house was the nursery
for small babies. We just had to feed them. Above was the
orthopaedic ward with six beds and a balcony where they
could sit on a nice day.
The Beeches as it is today.
The Lounge in 1937. Courtesy of Neil
|There were nursery nurses, staff nurses and the matron
Miss Hill, who lived in the old servants' rooms at the top
of the house. They were small rooms, just big enough for a
bed and a chest of drawers.
Below the house was a huge cellar with washing lines, where
the washing was hung to dry on rainy days. We had a morning
room at the back of the house which we used for our break,
where we had slice after slice of wonderful bread and
|The gardens were lovely. They were terraced with lawns,
trees, and a few large shrubs. To the left was a walkway
where we took the old fashioned 'Silver Cross' prams, and
walked around the grounds.
The matron, Miss Hill, had two retriever dogs which followed
her everywhere. She was a strict, old-fashioned matron who
carried-out spot checks to make sure everyone was working.
She didn't say a lot, but didn't have to.
We helped with getting the children up in the morning, and
things like that. Some mornings we had to do the washing in
the scullery at the back of the house. It had a big stone
sink, old mangles, everything was done by hand. We filled
the sink with hot water and used the hospital's supply of
soap flakes. On nice days we hung the washing out to dry in
the lovely garden, but on wet days we had to go down into
the cellar and hang it there.
There was also a kitchen at the back of the house where we
made the children's tea. Usually consisting of a
sandwich and Instant Whip. We were kept busy, there was
always plenty to do.
Nurses, staff and children from an
earlier generation at St. Catherine’s Convalescent Home,
which moved to The Beeches in 1935. From an old
Behind 'The Beeches' was this
lovely house called 'The Laurels'. It was acquired by
the hospital and became the women's convalescent home.
At various times it was known as 'The Poplars', and 'The
Old House'. Courtesy of Maureen Hunt.