“The Trent and I go wandering by”

Robert George Hogarth

Chapter 4

Developments I have seen at the General Hospital during the last fifty-five years

Nottingham General Hospital, 1782

It would be well, I think, to say something about the people who have been chiefly responsible in carrying out, or making possible the great developments which have taken place in the General Hospital. I will begin by a mention of each of the excellent Chairman we have had during this time.

Firstly, there was the Rev Harry Seymour, who held the office at the time of my joining the Hospital as Resident Medical Officer. In 1894 or 1895 he resigned and was succeeded by Sir Charles Seely, who held the position of Chairman until 1914.

I have previously said much about Sir Charles Seely, describing him as a great autocrat, and a great gentleman, who always had such commanding bearing and looked the aristocrat which he was. I would not like to affirm that he is the greatest of all the many benefactors whose generosity the Hospital has enjoyed, simply because it is impossible to estimate the sum total of his many gifts to the Hospital. Suffice it to say that whenever he got the chance he brought up any surrounding or adjacent land which he could get in the Hospital's vicinity, and paid for it himself. He would do so quite regardless of the cost, and so it resulted, largely due to his foresight in acquiring land, that the Hospital was able to expand to the extent which it has upon its present site.

It was he, of course, who gave "the Cedars" to the Hospital, and as he was by no means the only one of his family who sat on the Board or was a benefactor, the General Hospital may be said to owe a great deal to the Seely family.

Until 1926, and following Sir Charles Seely, Mr Frederick Acton held the Chair. He was a Lawyer and had served on the Board of Management for a great many years.

A most astute and clever man, he took a real interest in the Hospital, on whose behalf he conducted a great deal of legal work, entirely without charge. During the First World War he managed and carried out on the administrative work of the Hospital most efficiently, and although he never was in a position to give large sums of money to the Hospital, it transpired that he died leaving it a legacy.

Then came Mr W. G. Player, Chairman between the years 1926 and 1932. He has properly given more money to the Hospital then any benefactor we have known. He was truly most generous, and the monuments which testify to his generosity may be seen in The Player Ward, The Castle Ward, and The Mable Player Ward, the latter of which was added to The Jubilee Wing.

Mr. W. G. Player was an excellent Chairman, conscientious, painstaking and an inspiration to all who served with him. However, he was a man of very retiring disposition, never wanting to place himself in the limelight or to draw any personal glory from what was achieved.

Between 1932 and 1942 the Chairman was Sir Louis Pearson, also very generous in his gifts to the Hospital, being, of course, the donor of, The Pearson Theatre, one of the most up-to-date Operating Theatres in the Country.

Amongst his many other large gifts was The Pearson Hall, a beautiful room for the use of the Nurses for their meetings, as well as their recreation centre.

For four years, 1932-6, I was Sir Louis’ Vice-Chairman and during the greater part we were the greatest of friends, and worked in close harmony. The time came however when we could not see eye to eye on the matter of major policy and our disagreement was followed by my resignation. I am glad to say that before so Louis Pearson died we have long since sunk our differences but the past, and our friendship was renewed on the same good footing as in 1932.

Robert George Hogarth, 1913

Sir Louis had retired on the grounds of ill-health, and from 1942-1944 the Chairman was one who perhaps of all has given the longest service to the Hospital, a very long-standing member of the Board, Mr William Dawson. He too was a most conscientious and able Chairman, who gave his highest ability, and did much for the Hospital financially. He had a very difficult task compared with those who had preceded him, for during the years of his office the Second World War was at its height.

And lastly I came to mention our present Chairman Lieutenant-General Noel Gervis Pearson, who succeeded Mr Dawson in 1944.

Everyone in this locality knows what an excellent Chairman is Col Pearson, and what a tremendous amount of time and energy he gives to the Hospital, which, it is pleasing to note, he has made the chief interest (one almost might say hobby) of his life.

Nobody knows how much money he has devoted to the Hospital, because it seems that he gives all manner of things quite anonymously. He is a progressive, there is certainly nothing old-fashioned about him, for he has reorganised the changing conditions in which we now live, has adapted himself, and the Hospital, to these conditions, and has brought it forward by a succession of progressive steps and measures. It is very gratifying to know that now the hospital has come under State control, Col Pearson has been appointed Chairman of the Regional Hospital Board.

I have had a larger insight into the Hospitals affairs than most, and I can say without hesitation that I have never known the Hospital to be in such a state of sound efficiency as it is today.

So much for our Chairman, and now to mention some others of the many benefactors of the General Hospital.

I called to mind Mr James Foreman, a most valuable member of the Board for many years, and a very generous benefactor too. Then there is Sir Thomas Shipstone, of Lenton Firs who gave a great deal to the Hospital, and who supplied among his many gifts, something which is most outstanding – the beautiful Shipstone Operating Theatre.

Before his time there was another generous benefactor in the person of Mr William Bradshaw, and I am sure that long and notable is the list of all who have so generously aided this Hospital. I must be forgiven in failing to mention more of them, but I have just recall those with whose generosity I am myself most familiar.

But in considering the developments and changes in the Hospital I should fail in my purpose if I did not also say a word about the excellent Residents who have served it. I refer chiefly to the House Surgeons, for I know them best and was more familiar with their work and devotion to the Hospital.

They too, in their respective spheres, have contributed very much to the high reputation and popularity of the General Hospital, and – it is worth more than casual note – a great many of them have successfully become very important members of the Staff, and have taken high position in this profession.

Amongst those of whom I have made special note are Dr Jacob, Dr O'Donovan, Mr Allen, Mr Neil, Mr Crooks, Mr Llewellyn Davies, Mr Hunt, Mr Swan, Miss Glen Bott and Dr Wilkie Scott. These were all Residents at the Hospital. I referred to Dr Rowe and Mr Webber.

I would also add the names of two Residents who have made notable names for themselves elsewhere as Surgeons. Firstly there is Mr Keith Montsarrat, who was Assistant House Physician to me as House Physician, and who has since become one of the most famous of Liverpool's Surgeons, and secondly there is John Kelly.

John Kelly was one of my own House Surgeons, and has now made for himself the great name in Cork, where he is regarded as one of the Country's most prominent Consulting Surgeons.

Nearly all those I have mentioned have gone on from the Hospital Staff, that I don't believe that the Hospital has ever had a more efficient or better set of Surgeons in its Senior Staff than it has today, and in the persons of Mr Crooks, Mr Llewellyn Davies, Mr Hunt and Mr Swan.

Miss Glen Bott is not now, of course, on the General Hospital Staff, for, being well-known as one of the leading Gynaecologists of the Country, she has made a great name for herself as Surgeon to the Women's Hospital and the Children's Hospital in Nottingham.

Mention must also be made of the Secretaries who have served the board, for it must be remembered that they too have had them large part to play.

In my time there have been three of them; they are Mr Keeley, of whom I have already spoken, Mr McColl, who served the Hospital truly and well, and who unfortunately died before he had long enjoyed his retirement, and the present, efficient, obliging and pleasant Mr Stanley. He carries the torch in maintaining the Hospitals tradition for here is well versed in the modern and up-to-date methods demanded of one of his position.


Nottingham General Hospital, 1948

There are some trusted faithful servants of the Hospital who have also done more than their bit, for instance the Porters, old Dakin, Bradbury, Starkey (a character and not readily forgotten), and Hickling, who has recently left the service, and who was the sole survivor of those serving the Hospital from the day when I first served it myself.

Then there is Brown, the present Hall Porter, who I believe, has been in service for over forty years. Good and faithful people these, well worthy of recall when aught is written of such a Hospital has this.

I shall not forget Meers, our X-Ray man, who in devotion to his work was burnt, lost some of his fingers and thereby developed a malignant disease. Many there are who will remember Meers!

Fewer would come into contact with Hunt, the Engineer, who was in the Hospitals service for many a year and was quite a character of note by those who met him.

When I come to consider the Office Staff I shall first remember Mr Rose, whom I met when he was but a boy. His present capacity I cannot give, but I note that he always seems to be making for the bank and is obviously engaged in monetary transactions!

There are also two fair ladies whom you will know in the office – Miss Reynolds and Miss Singleton, who are both done so much in their positions to help things along and to make matters easier for others.

In mentioning no others I sincerely hope that, by virtue of failing memory, I have not missed out anyone of special note!

But of Matrons I must say more than a word, for there have been four during my time. There was Miss Knight, whom I have already described (by the way she was known to us more familiarly as Gertie), and following her was Miss Kendal, who came from Wolverhampton.

Being by no means as strict, she may be said to have been diametrically opposite to Miss Knight – much as we like them both – though Miss Kendal wisely went out of her way to make life more amenable for the Nurses. She tried to give them a good time, and as a result the Christmas Parties and other festivities became quite a feature of the institution during her Matronship.

Yet Miss Kendal did much for the Hospital, bringing new life, and many good ideas to fruition.

Following Miss Kendal came the gentle, homely and much love Miss Liddle. I have great personal pleasure in thinking that it was my vote (for she obtained the position by one vote only) which brought her to the General Hospital.

Mrs Liddell was certainly a very good Matron – very kind and understanding, so much so that she always made a first-class impression on any visitor, so gracious was her manner and her way of receiving them. She was also very fond of the patients, and enjoyed their complete confidence.

I am so glad to feel that I can still meet Miss Liddle, because she is living in her retirement near the City and is still to be found taking the greatest interest in the Hospital and its well-being. I can record my belief that she never received quite the recognition nor the fair and generous treatment which she deserved.

Less opportunity has been mine to assess our present Matron Miss Plucknett; but I understand her to be equal to the best, and perhaps a bit better than most in the Country, and that's saying much! Knowing her personally I find her most pleasant, even to an old ‘un’ like myself, who is nevertheless grateful!

Two of the Sisters of my Wards in the Hospital must be mentioned. Firstly Sister Johnson who was so long in charge of my Men's Surgical Ward, and whom I came to regard as one of the best Sisters I had ever met. Please don't think I'm saying this because she was always so tolerant with me – for I am sure I was trying and difficult to manage when at my work – but she was one of those people who was never put out, and certainly not to be upset by a Surgeon, for she was always of the same equal temper whenever she met you. As she is still to be seen in Nottingham I recorded as a joy to meet and to discuss old times.

And secondly there was Sister Tooley, the Sister of my Women's Surgical Ward for many years. She was more than efficient, looking after her Ward and all her patients very well. As she afterwards became the Matron of a Nursing Home on Park Row there will be many who went there and who will remember with gratitude the efficiency and kindliness with which she ran the place.

I append the list of Development and Historical Records of the Hospital.

1894. Mr Hogarth Resident Medical Officer  Number of Inpatients admitted 1,769: Number of Outpatients treated 10,888: Number of Outpatients attendances 9,000: In Patient Operations 545.

1895. The Cedars Convalescent Home opened – 20 beds

1896. Woodthorpe Lodge added – 20 Beds

1897. Property adjoining Standard Hill purchased for £8,500.

1898. Work of Jubilee Wing commenced. Builders Estimate £23,786 Mr Robinson Worksop Manor gave £10,000 . Architect Alfred Waterhouse R.A.  Builders William Woodsend Ltd. Foundation Stone laid by the Duke of Portland. Opened 1901. 66 Beds. Accommodation for 20 Domestic Servants

1899.  Hospital lighted by Electricity. X-rays installed, presented by Sir Charles Seely.

1901. New Kitchens etc. Mortuary, Engineers Lodge and Laundry completed; New Entrance Hall; X-Ray Department enlarged; Old Children's Hospital – Now Postern Ward and Pathological Laboratory presented by Sir Charles Seely.

1903. New Boardroom.

1904. Radium purchased; Radiant Heat installed; Ambulance provided; Maintenance Staff increased – Plumbers and Joiners shops built.

1910. Castle Houses opened for Tuberculosis Cases – 16 Beds.

1914.  Sir Charles Seely resigned from Chairmanship of Board after 17 years. In addition to other gifts, he had given the Cedars and loaned Woodthorpe Lodge and maintain these at his own expense as Convalescent Wards since 1895. Temporary Building erected on lawn to accommodate 150 soldiers. Cost £3,367. Cedars and Woodthorpe Lodge set aside for Soldiers.

1915. X-Ray Department further improved – new apparatus purchased and additional staff appointed; Beds for Troops now 263 – a further 53 Beds provided.

1917. First Electric Light installed.

1918. Orthopaedic Department opened – June; Committee appointed to appeal for £100,000 for extension of the hospital – £15,000 Donation from Red Cross .

1919. Preliminary Training School for Nurses opened – Sister Tutor appointed; Old Fever Block converted – upper floor Surgical Women – lower floor Ear, Nose and Throat Department.

1920. Freeholds value £3,320 presented by the Duke of Newcastle for extension of Hospital; Gift by Sir Jesse Boot of £50,000 for the endowment of the Cedars together with £1,850 for improvements.

1926. Ultraviolent Light installed; Ropewalk Wing opened by Princess Mary, 30th April, 1927 Cost of clearing site and structure £94,450; Heating £7,050; Equipment £10,000; Aural Department 40 Beds; Dispensary, Outpatient Department, Deep X-Ray Department (Radiotherapy Department), Extra Storey to Nurses Home (Memorial Nurses Home); Accommodation for 40 Nurses – cost £7,478.

1927. Ransom Memorial Laboratory; Cost of adapting premises and Equipment provided by Ransom Memorial Fund.

1929. Casualty Department reconstructed at a cost of £6.880 opened in 1930.

1930. New Children's Ward – extra floor to Jubilee Wing – 24 beds – cost £12,075.

1931. Deep Therapy X-Ray apparatus installed – cost £1,500 met by Cancer Campaign; Louis Pearson Operating Theatre opened by Lord Moynihan, March 25th – cost £7,129 met by Sir Louis Pearson; Work commenced on the Thomas Shipstone Operating Theatre – Opened 13th February, 1932 by Mr Robert George Hogarth.

1932. Mr Player resigned Chairmanship 16th March, 1932; Sir Louis Pearson appointed; Extension at The Cedars – 40 Beds, cost £10,000; Opened by Viscountess Galway, 28th September 1932. Pay Bed Block/Wing: Fund opened in 1931; Foundation Stone laid 13th November, 1935, opened 12th of April 1938 – 43 Beds.

1935. No. 5, Newcastle Drive acquired for Nurses; Fracture Clinic opened.

1939. Work on Pearson House Nurses Home accommodation commenced, July; Blood Bank for this and other Hospitals in Nottingham; Refrigerator for Blood Storage installed.