Life as patient at the Abergele Sanitorium

Here’s a fantastic set of Walter Bond’s memories of life as patient at the Abergele Sanitorium. It was originally posted as a comment on this blog, but  I believe Walter’s pice deserves its own article. So I’m handing over here to Walter Bond:

“It has been a long long time since I was in Abergele Sanatorium, I was in their for quite some time, I am not quite sure when I went in but it was in the early 1950s, I can remember watching the Queens Coronation on TV in the hall, the patients who where allowed to walk could do so but the rest of us where pushed down to the main hall in our beds.

“Her are some of the names that I can remember and who they where.
Dr Morrison. I think he was the head guy or Superintendent.
Dr Day or (Dea) This doctor was from Asia I think maybe India.
“Sister King” on ward B4? A lovely larger than life Irish female nurse who stood for no nonsense.
“Sister Bonelle”. A male sister who came I think from Malta, I seem to remember him telling stories about the war and the part that the Maltese Air Force played in it. I think there where three aircraft called Faith, Hope and Charity.
Male Nurse, Mr Smith, A rough looking chap but a nice guy.
Male Nurse, Mr Timothy.
Male Nurse, Mr Thompson a young chap who wore glasses and had an unfortunate walk that the lads in the ward made fun of, but again a nice chap.
Their was also a Staff Nurse we called “Chiefy” he was ex Royal Navy, and we all knew it, he would take charge of the floor cleaning every morning, out of our beds (all those who where allowed) push all the beds to one side, soft polish on the floor with a stick , wipe with a brush covered over with a cloth, then follow up with a twin brush electric polisher with the man himself in control.
Male Sister King, (no relation to female Sister King).
Mable Parks was the Head Teacher, she lived in a cottage just outside the hospital gates, there where tow cottages, one of them was Miss Parks and the other I think belonged to the hospital because we where sometimes taken down there for cooking lessons, absolutely fantastic we where taught how to cook all sorts of goodies and when we had finished we all sat down to eat some of what we had made, I do remember one Christmas that we cooked Christmas dinner, wonderful!.

“Mr Tomlinson was the teacher he gave us books from a trolley that he pushed from ward to ward for those who could not attend the school at the far end of the wards, one day English the next maths,and so on.
Staff Nurse Eyeball, can’t forget her with a name like that and the rumers going around the wards that she was going out with one of the patients?.
Some of the patients David Bailey. Ken Hurstfield. David Parks. Jed Winterburn.

“One last memory and the one that stays with me is the visitors from all over the North who caught a special bus from Piccadilly Station in Manchester every week to come and see their sons and daughters in North Wales.

“We lived in Bolton and my mother walked into Bolton to catch the early Sunday No 8 bus to Manchester every week, to be on the Abergele Hospital bus for 0900hrs to arrive in Abergele for around lunch time, she did this for about 6 years the that I was in Abergele Hospital, from 1951ish (I was about 8/9 years old until I was just 13 years old).

“I also left part of my right lung in North Wales, removed by the most eminent of surgeons Sir Ivor Lewis, the same one who operated on the the King. I could go on but ….”

19 thoughts on “Life as patient at the Abergele Sanitorium

  1. susan haywood:

    I was in Abergele from about 1952 to 1956 I remember a donkey there called Violet, there was a girl my age there who was deaf and dumb and from what I can remember she had no visitors, so my dad alway’s let her come and join in our visit’s on a Sunday have a photo of us together often wonder what happened to her, if anyone know’s could you let me know. I also remember doing concert’s for parent’s. my family were from Collyhurst but had to move to Burnage because of my health. Would love to hear from anyone who was there at that time. My cousin Brian Heap also went to Abergele before me I think he was on the committee at one time.

  2. Ronald.E.Brown:

    It was the Manchester Sanitorium at that time in fifties hence the sanny rocks on side of Tower hill

  3. Ronald.E.Brown:

    And on the subject of picture house you went in on left side and at top of stairs seat rows then went upwards to back screen was behind you as you entered I used to go often when I was there and Bertie babs my uncle was allways in the front row getting very excited..

  4. alan tatum:

    dear sir/madam, my mother worked as a nurse at Abergele sanitorium in about 1949-50. do you hold records of the nurses and the time they spent at the hospital. i would love to know more about her time there. her name was Kathleen Gloria Horan.. yours sincerely alan tatum (son)

    1. Gareth Morlais:

      We don’t hold patients’ records on this site Alan. It’s possible readers may be able to suggest where you can search. Good luck with your research.

  5. Jane Young:

    we have as a friend who worked at the Abergele Sanitorium whose name was Miss Rosalie Stirzaker, Rosalie is now 93 years of age and her last name is Fritzsche, she has read the note on the past of the Sanitorium and remembers with clarity several of those name.Particularly the Head man Dr.Morrison. she described the Abergele Hospital as it was, in great detail. and was very interested in the content

    1. Alison:

      Hi! Does she remember anyone by the name Mary Jordan? I am looking for my birth grandmother who would have been around 31 in 1948. Or she may remember John or Brian Stenhouse. Any memories would be lovely to hear. Thank you.

  6. Rita Norman:

    I was a patient at the Sanitorium around 1953 with TB of the bronchial tube. I believe that I was there for a couple of years, I was about one year old when I went in. My father Norman Finnigan was also a patient at the same time. After being in Abergele I went to a convalescent home in Stockport, I think it was called Cherry Tree. Was there a Nurse Martin who took care of the little ones in Abergele? I would love to know more about that part of my life. I can’t imagine how it must have been for my mum, she had 4 other children at home so she wasn’t able to visit much. Thank you.

  7. David Wallwork:

    I was a patient in 1955 and remember Walter Bond as he was a fellow Boltonian. I still have a commemorative 25th anniversary book with photos of staff and patients. We had a scout troop and got badges for various activities. I was in Kestrel patrol of the Abergele 2nd. We also did a production of The Little Yellow Idol with costumes produced by some very clever ladies. Photos were in the anniversary booklet. I remember our ward sister was Sister Sewell and Dr. Sundra Chandra De from the Seychelles.

  8. Mrs Dorothy Lucas:

    My mum was in Abergele from the age of 5 until she was 8. She’s in the photo.showing the children in the beds outside. I don’t know which one she is. My auntie told me that her mum had the same photo. Which I didn’t know.
    It would be great if I knew what I think. It’s just possible the girl in the 1st bed could be my mum. My mum told me once that her dad was in the same hospital the same time. But he wasn’t in long. She even told me what she got upto trying to get out of her plaster cast. She wore it because she had a spine problem due to being tipped out of a wheel Barrow. I wish I could find out more about the photo. See if I can get a clear one. Maybe someone can help.

    1. Gareth Morlais:

      Thanks for sharing this family story Dorothy. I hope you find out more. If anyone reading this does know, please feel free to add a comment.

  9. Doreen Allen (maiden name ):

    I was a patient in 1954 till 1955. I was two and a half when I went in. I still remember the treatment rooms where they tried to get the stuff off your lungs Then after they would take you into a big kitchen and let you choose biscuits out of a big square tin.
    I remember first being in isolation then moved to a large ward with other children I had a shelf above my cot for my few toys allowed in with me.
    There was an older boy who used to say there was a lion under my bed.
    On nice days they would open up the big window/doors and wheel us outside for fresh air. I had a photo taken with father Christmas which I have somehow mislaid but I do have one of a large group of us with some of the nurses.
    I know I was only young but these memories have never left me

  10. noel moylan .manchester:

    i was in abergele about 1956ish remember annice wroe from gorton mate ray halliwell from bolton and another friend john was there nurse mr bonello i sang on stage also drank pee to win bet can remenber the garden of eden echo bridge.

    1. Gareth Morlais:

      Sounds like a memorable time Noel. I think I know where your echo bridge is. Is it the tall-arched viaduct over the Gele stream?

  11. noel moylan .manchester:

    i was in an isolation ward in the 1955s from manchester had friend ray from bolton also girl friend annice gorton girl i sang on stage with black an white minstrels they were not in costumes also was alta boy/

  12. anthony handsley:

    Haha i remember taking off Elvis jailhouse rock on stage , with music played by tape recorder to the audience , Mr Bonello used to show me some bits of magic , how to make a twopence disappear up my sleeve, plus make it look like i had taken my finger the girls in opposite ward typing to William tell , clattering on old typewriters.making ginger beer because to dear to but from the cabin . the only name i can remember is patient called Wilcox , think first name Anthony.

  13. Peter:

    In later years the ‘Sanni’ became known as the Abergele Chest Hospital and, one of the pioneering consultants, Dr John Charles, worked tirelessly to help patients with chest disease. Dr Charles was assisted by dedicated nursing staff, in particular, the wonderful Sister Addie Roberts, who, today, at the age of 77 still works for the NHS.

  14. Dorothy:

    Please can someone help me with the photo of the children outside in the beds?
    I’m not sure if any one would remember.
    Somewhere in the photo is my mum.
    Her name was Patricia Jones.
    My gran (My mum’s mother) might have put her name as Patricia Owens.
    Even though my grandparents we’re married. My grandad was in the army when my mum was sent to abergele.
    I’m not sure the age of my mum when she went to the hospital. But she went back home to her mum around 1946.
    My mum told me about her stay in the hospital and what she got upto when she realised that she could get in and out of the plaster cast.
    From what I can remember her telling me. She was lay on her back for a few months or years. She had a TB spine.

    When I found the photo of the hospital. And the children. I saved it.
    In hope that my mum was in it.
    I actually shown my auntie the photo.
    She asked me where I got it from.
    I explained it. And she said she thought my mum gave it to me. As there mum (My gran) had the same photo. Ever since then I’ve been trying to find out where she is in the photo.
    Or if anyone knows her. I wish I could get a clearer copy of the photo. Tho
    But I’m sure my mum is one of the 2 girls nearest to the camera. Because
    The 1st girl looks like my mum. And the 2nd one laying down. Has a plaster cast from her right leg.
    Just like my mum was wearing in a play they did about dolls.
    I can’t remember the proper name. But it’s something like the dance of the painted dolls. My mum use to have the photo. I remember seeing it when I was very young. Which was a surprise to my mum. Me remembering it.

    If there’s anything anyone can help me with. I would really appreciate it. As it would mean a lot to me.
    Thank you all again.
    Kind regards

  15. Dorothy:

    Hello everyone.
    Please can anyone help me with the photo of the children outside in there beds?
    I’ve been trying to find out more information about the photo including if I can get a clearer picture?
    The reason why I’m asking for help is because my mum spent a few year’s in Abergele. I’m not sure exactly when she arrived or why. I only know what my mum told me.
    Apparently she ended up in hospital due to a fall from a wheel Barrow. Being pushed by 2 boys. She told me that she had to lay on her back with plaster cast. My mum said she ended up with a TB spine.
    My mum returned home around 1946.
    My auntie said that her mum had the same photo. Which my auntie ask me where I got mine from.
    I explained where. That’s when she said her mum had the same one.
    Please can anyone help me out?
    It’s possible my mum is Eaither the 1st little girl in the photo. Or the 2nd one. Because my mum had to lay down.
    I hope you can help me with this?
    Thank you again

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