Here 1947 1950

A Memory of Alton

When I first came here the NHS hadn't begun, I think my mum was asked to pay 7/6d per week! Visiting was 2hrs on the 1st Sunday of the month only. Just as well really because my parents had to travel from 3 miles south of Dorking. I laid flat on my back for most of the 3 years with my left hip in plaster, a strap across my chest, and weights out of the end of the bed holding my left leg still. In fact when I came out of hospital my right shoe had to be made up by 3" to compensate for the extra length of my left!. I remember very little of my stay in Treloars, apart from catching chicken-pox and being placed in an isolation ward, and Mum and Dad wearing gowns etc., when they visited. I remember being told off by Sister when I got stung by a Bee on my finger, she said it was because I spilt my food on the bed! I ate my food from a plate at the side of my head, no pillow you see!. I remember the nurses turning their cloaks inside out to sing carols at Christmas. I also remember having a face drawn on the special cup I used for drinks. We spent a lot of time outside on the Balcony, fresh air being good for you, and I also spent 3 weeks at a 'branch' of the Hospital on Hayling Island. I think I spent the whole of the time outside, day and night. The wards at Alton were 'Nightingale' wards, and in between them were large rooms in which were stored the stone hot-water bottles that used to pack around you when you were outside on the balcony. You would spend time out there whatever the weather. I remember Dr Gauvain, the daughter of Sir Henry Gauvain (whose portrait hung in the entrance hall), Mr Wilson, and I also remember 'Scottie', who was the porter who used to drive the electric trolleys that took you to X-Ray, and the Plaster Room. I hated having the plaster off, they used hand cutters like giant clippers, it scared me and I cried a lot. I spent 19 years going back to Out-Patients (it eventually became once a year). I spent 3 weeks in an observation ward during Coronation Week 1953, and underwent a Harris-Mueller Osteotomy in 1969, returning in 1975 to have the metal bracket removed, which I still have.
Since then I played cricket regularly, bowled off-breaks, had a total hip replacement, played cricket after 13 weeks, eventually played Senior cricket for Surrey. I am a Level 2 Coach, a qualified Umpire, and only stopped playing in 2008 after having back surgery that went badly wrong. I was 65. I still umpire and coach my grandchildren. I was advised to do a bit of research; I was originally diagnosed with a TB hip, and I think I was probably suffering from Perthes Disease. I had no education whilst at Treloars, I was probably not the right age group?

A memory shared by Terence Mayne , on Jan 15th, 2013.

Comments & feedback

Sat Mar 21st 2015, at 9:33 am

Phil Fouracre commented:

Hi Terence - I was there for the best part of a year from Oct 1949, and I can very much empathise with your memories. I was just short of three when I went, and I felt totally abandoned. I am told that I didn't speak for several days, and cried for a lot longer. I too remember Scottie with much fondness - the rides in his trolley and the squealing of tyres as he negotiated the bends on the way to the physio room. He must have taken as many as ten of us at a time? I also remember the consultants Mr Wilson and also Mr Evans; I think they were both very kindly men, though they were treated with much awe. The nursing in those times was very strict, the visiting very limited, and the food - well what can I say! I didn't learn to love vegetables after that experience until I was well into my teens. I have kept close to one friend from those times; it was his parents who led the fight for better visiting arrangements (improved from monthly to every weekend by the time we were discharged). For a long time afterwards I was very wary of going back to Alton for check-ups and further surgery - hated it, in fact. But with gathering age, I try to look on it more philosophically; in fact I was very sorry to learn that they had knocked it down. I have abiding memories of the smell of brewing (wafting over from the town), and the sight of the railway in the distance (which was a complete mystery as to what it was). Anywhere I smell a brewery, I am immediately transported back to Alton in 1950.

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