Category Archives: Health

Mrs Wray, pioneer of Mitcham’s child welfare service, died in 1960

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th May, 1960, page 1.

CHILD WELFARE PIONEER DIES

Mrs Elizabeth Sarah Wray, friends to hundreds of Mitcham families and pioneer of Mitcham’s child welfare service, has died. Her home was at Harcourt Road, Wallington.

Mrs Wray joined Mitcham Urban District Council in March, 1916, as the first health visitor. She remained until her retirement in February, 1943.

Mrs Wray, who did her rounds by bicycle, laid the foundation of maternity and child welfare in Mitcham. Working alone as health visitor she organised the first infant welfare clinics and inaugurated the home visiting scheme.

She was behind the opening of the infant welfare clinic in the creche at Colliers Wood –
one of the first.

HIGHEST ESTEEM

In 1920 a second health visitor was appointed, and Mrs Wray became senior health visitor. Later she was promoted and became the first local superintendent health visitor and infant life protection visitor.

During her 23 years’ service she worked during the term of three successive medical officers of health.

Dr Florence M Parsons, former assistant Mitcham medical officer of health, writes of Mrs Wray: “Practically every family in the borough was known to her.

“Many thousands of mothers have reason to be grateful to her invariably sound, helpful and sympathetic advice, and she was always held in the highest esteem by her professional colleagues and all those with whom she came into contact.”

Mrs Wray, a widow, has been an invalid for some years. The funeral service was at Wallington Parish Church on Wednesday last week. It was conducted by the Rev Frank Colquhoun, who also took the service at Streatham Vale crematorium. He paid tribute to her life of service for the community.

See a photograph, from Merton Memories, of her in 1920 at Woodlands.

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Cumberland House

Cumberland Hospital was paid for by Isaac Wilson, and built on land he owned, at the rear of his house The Birches. Its entrance was at the end of Whitford Gardens at Cold Blows.

Opened in 1939, it was demolished in 1992. Its perimeter wall along Cold Blows remains.

1953 OS map

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 21st July, 1939, page 1.

LEFT THE GOLD KEY AT HOME

But Sir Isaac’s Splendid Gift is Duly Inaugurated

CUMBERLAND HOUSE OPENED

An amusing hitch occurred at the formal opening of Cumberland House, Mitcham, on Friday afternoon. Sir Isaac Wilson, as the munificent donor of the place, was about to present the key to Sir Richard Meller, M.P., with which to unlock the door, when he discovered that he had left it at home.

A messenger was dispatched post-haste, and in ten minutes’ time he arrived with the gold key.

The ceremony then proceeded smoothly. It was a semi-private affair, arranged by the Surrey County Council officials. Among the guests present were Sir Isaac and Lady Wilson, Sir Richard and Lady Meller, the Mayor and Mayoress of Mitcham (Ald. and Mrs. Field), Mr. R. M. Chart, the 89-years-old Charter Mayor of Mitcham, Mr. Stephen Chart, the vicar of Mitcham (the Rev. C. A. Finch) and Mrs. Finch, Col. W. F. Johnson, Mr. Christopher Chart, Dr and Mrs. A. T. Till, Ald. E. H. Rickards (Croydon), County Councillor Mrs. C. Randall, Mr. and Mrs. G. S. Alderman, Mr. H. H. Dance, staff, officials, and inmates of the House.

COSTS £60,000.

The building was erected at the cost approximately of £60,000 by Sir Isaac Wilson, on land belonging to him, and adjoining his own residence at The Birches, almost overlooking the famous Mitcham Cricket Green. The foundation stone was laid on March 1, 1937, by Sir Kingsley Wood, then Minister of Health. The place was originally to be used as a home for poor disabled persons, and it was vested in trustees for that purpose. Subsequently, however Sir Isaac and Lady Wilson, with the approval of their co-trustees, offered the building as a gift to the Surrey County Council for use as a convalescent home in connection with the Council’s hospitals. The munificent and public-spirited offer was gratefully accepted in May, 1938. Under the scheme, Sir Isaac and Lady Wilson are life members of the committee of management, with seven other members appointed by the County authority. The hospital has been furnished and equipped by the Council, who have also appointed the necessary staff. The first patient was admitted on March 29 last. The hospital has accommodation for 110 patients and 24 staff. The patients are mainly transferred from hospitals as requiring from two to eight weeks’ further treatment in order to firmly reestablish their health.

UP-TO-DATE.

On the ground floor there are the administrative offices, kitchens, a dispensary, and two units. The first floor comprises two ward units, an electrical treatment room, the doctor’s flat, and dining-rooms for the nursing and domestic staff. The second floor contains bed- and other rooms for the matron, assistant matron, and 22 members of the nursing and domestic staffs, including two staff common rooms. The lay-out of the Home is magnificent, with sunshine balconies, and spacious grounds for recreation.

Sir Isaac paid tribute to the architects, Messrs. Chart, Son and Reading; the builder, Mr. C. Higginson; his confidential friends, Mr. R. M. Chart, and his son, Mr. Stephen Chart (Town Clerk of Mitcham), Sir Richard Meller, and the Rev. C. A. Finch, chaplain of the home. He declared that every one of these gentlemen had helped him by good advice during the building of the Home. He went on to say that the Surrey County Councii were now trying to do the very best they could with the building, and “I shall be fully recompensed to know that the institution will be carried an efficiently in the future for the benefit and use of convalescent cases,” he added.

DEPUTISING FOR MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Sir Richard Meller humorously suggested that a record of the ceremony should be “the safe arrival of the key.” He greatly appreciated the honour and privilege conferred upon him, he said. He was really deputising for the Minister of Health, who was unable to attend. “This is a succession of noble acts of benefaction by Sir Isaac Wilson,” commented Sir Richard. The building of Wilson Hospital, and the Garden Village, are other worthy examples of his generosity. There is nothing which adds to human happiness so much as the enjoyment of good health, and Sir Isaac and Lady Wislon have been so charity-minded as to build these institutions to try to confer the greatest blessing on mankind by providing them with means of achieveing the greatest human happiness.”

In handing over the Home to County authority, Sir Richard thought the donors had paid tribute to the efficient administration of that body. It came at an opportune moment for the County Council in providing them with the necessary accommodation to relieve their present hospitals, and particularly as an outlet for the large institution being built on St Helier Estate. Sir Richard gave the assurance that the intentions of the trustees would be carried out as far as possible.

“The opening of this home, concluded Sir Richard, “confers a very valuable asset upon the County, and it should be duly recorded among the great historic events of Mitcham.”

“By taking over this building, the County Authority have enabled Sir Isaac to confirm two benefits on community, provision of an institution for the sick, relief for the ratepayers. It is a second example of the dual benefit that Sir Isaac has conferred upon the ratepaying community through Wilson hospital and now Cumberland Home. “Where I am ye shall dwell,” seems to have animated the donor, for he has built both institutions close to his own private residence, equivalent to saying what is good enough for me I hope is good enough for you. In your name as residents of Mitcham, and on behalf of the County of Surrey, I express to Sir Isaac and Lady Wilson our whole-hearted gratitude for their generosity and kindness. Before their eyes they will have the satisfaction and knowledge that those who came here sick went away rejoicing in good health.” (Cheers).

The company then proceeded to the main entrance of the budiling, and Sir Richard unlocked the door with a gold key, declaring the Home open for the succour of mankind.”

Photos on Merton Memories:
Laying of the Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone
1958 : Chest hospital building


The hospital, originally under the Surrey County Council, became part of the NHS in 1947. This ad for nurses in 1949 shows it was part of the St Helier hospital group:

16th July 1949

In 1979, the Sutton, Merton and Wandsworth Area Health Authority announced it was to close. The buildings were demolished in 1992. Redevelopment of the site by the health authority has included day care centres, and is the site of the Merton Dementia Hub.

For more information about the hospital, see the website Lost Hospitals of London.


Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

1895 Death from pleurisy

MITCHAM.

On Tuesday, Mr Percy Morrison held an inquiry at the Mortuary Chapel, Mitcham, relative to the death of Emily Mills, the wife of Joseph Mills, a builder’s labourer, living at 26, Sibthorp-road.

— The husband stated that the deceased was 40 years age, and since her father’s death, which took place in March last, had not been in good health.

— Dr Oscar Berridge Shelswell deposed that he attended the deceased on the 3rd inst., and found that she was suffering from pains under the heart and slight pleurisy. On the 13th inst. he discovered that she was suffering from pneumonia and pleurisy, to which he attributed her death.

— The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.

Source: Surrey Mirror – Friday 24 May 1895 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Doctor Henry Love

Born in Dublin, Ireland in 1857, he gained his Batchelor of Art and Batchelor of Medicine at Dublin University in 1878. He died in March 1934.

In the 1891 census, he is living in Mitcham with his wife Eliza Lea, who was also born in Dublin, at no. 3, Whitford Lane. Their eldest daughter, Eva Maud, aged 8, was born in Mitcham in 1883, so he would have moved from Ireland to Mitcham between 1878 and 1883.

In the 1885 Medical Directory his address is Ryde Cottage.

In the 1901 and 1911 censuses he is living at Elm Lodge. The electoral registers shows he was at Elm Lodge until 1923, when he moved to Avoca, until 1933. He was in hospital June 1933, and died the following year.

He contributed “Procidentia, complete Rupture of Cervix Uteri, occurring in Twin Labour,” to the Lancet, in 1882. In 1891 he wrote for the Lancet, “Rupture of the Uterus during Parturition”.

Merton Memories photo at the Woodlands Maternity Clinic in 1920.

News Articles

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 16th June 1933

DR. Henry LOVE

Satisfactory Progress
after operation

We are pleased to be able to state that Dr. Henry Love is making satisfactory progress in his serious illness. He is still a patient in Wilson Cottage Hospital, and the operation he has undergone has proved successful.

Dr. Love is 77 years of age, and everybody wishes him a speedy recovery and many more years of public service.


His death was reported in March 1934:

Believed to have been the oldest doctor in practice in Surrey, Dr. Henry Love, of Commonside, East Mitcham, has died, aged 77.

Source: Hastings and St Leonards Observer – Saturday 17 March 1934 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

1897 Scarlet Fever

HOW SCARLET FEVER IS SPREAD.

George Peter Lawrence, of Ivy Cottage, Church-road, Mitcham, was summoned before the County Magistrates at Croydon on Saturday for exposing his son Charles while he was suffering from scarlet fever, and he was further summoned for failing to notify the medical officer of health that the child was suffering. The defendant’s wife appeared, and said she thought the child had the measles.

Mr. J. Wilson, clerk to the Croydon Rural District Council, who prosecuted, said the Magistrates probably knew there had been a serious epidemic of scarlet fever at in Mitcham, and the authorities had the greatest difficulty in inducing people to take ordinary precautions. In this case the Inspector of Nuisances received information that the child was attending school while suffering from scarlet fever, and the officer on visiting the parents’ house found that the child’s hands were peeling, a very infectious stage of the disease. Mr. Wilson added that this was a very serious ease, inasmuch as the defendant’s wife kept a laundry.

Charles Coleman, of 16, Bailey-road, Mitcham, was summoned for exposing his two children, Richard and Walter, and with failing to notify the medical officer of health that they were suffering from scarlet fever. Mr. Wilson said that in this case the children were also sent to school, where it was discovered that they were suffering from scarlet fever. Dr. Shaw said the children had had the disease for four or five weeks, and were peeling when he saw them. He told the mother that she was not to allow the children out : yet three days later he found them in the street playing with other children.

John Littleton, of 15, Bailey-road, Mitcham, was similarly summoned in respect to his son John. In this case the Inspector found the child playing in the street while suffering from the fever.

Hannah Adaway, of 7, Thorn-terrace, Phipps-bridge-road, Mitcham, was also summoned with regard to her daughter Ada. The defendant pleaded that she had had great domestic trouble, having had five children down with scarlet fever, and been ill herself.

Mr. Byron, in dealing with the cases, remarked upon the serious nature of the offence, and told the defendants that they were liable to a fine of £5 each. Lawrence was fined 5s. and 2s. 0d. costs in each case, and Adaway, Coleman, and Littleton were each ordered to pay 15s., including costs.

Time was allowed for payment in each case.

Source: Morning Post – Monday 30 August 1897 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

1890 The Fountain Tavern and the Gipsies

The Illustrated Police News Saturday, April 26, 1890

At The Croydon Petty Sessions, on Saturday, Mr. Peter Dale, landlord of the Fountain Tavern, Merton-lane, Mitcham, was summoned by the rural sanitary authorities for suffering a certain nuisance to exist by allowing gipsy caravans to be used for human habitation on his premises, the same not being supplied with water and drainage accommodation. The defendant denied the charge. Levi White, an inspector of nuisances said on the 16th inst. he discovered that one caravan out of two had gone, and that the land was occupied by a show. The showman and his wife were sleeping there. The defendant said the show alluded to was a portable theatre, and as far from doing any harm, he thought that when the very poor were enabled to see “Hamlet” played it did much to educate the children. The fact of the matter was that Mr. White did not like people to go to the theatre.

The Inspector : I should like to go myself. (Laughter.)

Eventually the case was adjourned.

Note that Merton Lane was renamed Western Road.

Woodlands Maternity Home

From the 1932 Medical Officer’s Report

The Woodlands Maternity Home, Devonshire Road, Collier’s Wood, was established by the Council in 1924.

During the year several improvements have taken place. A new Terrazzo floor has been put down in the labour ward, surgeons’ basins have been installed in the wards on the ground floor, and a new high pressure steriliser has been purchased. The interior of the Home has also been redecorated.

From the 1938 Medical Officer’s Report

STAFF

The staff consists of a matron, two sisters, two staff nurses and three pupil midwives. All the staff are State registered nurses and, with the exception of the pupil midwives, hold the certificate of the Central Midwives’ Board. The Home is recognised as a Part II. training school for midwives.

HOME

The Home can accommodate 15 patients at a time, but bookings are limited to 26 patients per month.