There has been a nursing service in the village from at least as far back as the 1880’s. Until around 1919, nurses lived at Meadow Bank on the Petworth Road. From there they would be conveyed by a pony and trap to the patient. We know that the driver was Mr Mann, but we don’t know any other details of the nurses. Anyone any ideas?
In 1925, The Wisborough Green District Nursing Association was established. Its main income was from subscriptions, grants from the county nursing association, etc. and refunds from insurance companies. Several organisations made donations to the association. These included Horsham Football Club, Westminster Bank, the Elliot Charity Fund and the Gymkhana Committee. Carter Brothers gave a bicycle for the nurses’ use and subsequently maintained it.
Villagers who wished to receive a nursing service were required to subscribe to the association. They paid according to their weekly income, e.g. in 1925 the annual subscription was 2/2d (or 11p!) for the poorest and £1 1s for the richest. These figures barely increased over the years. In 1945 the poorest (i.e. those with wages under 25/- per week) still paid 2/2 per annum, a new category of small tradesmen and farmers paid 10/6 and the wealthiest (those with a weekly income over 70/-) still paid £1 1s (or £1.05). These subscriptions included parents and their children, whereas a subscription of £2 2s covered all members of a household.
The nurse would come out to non-subscribers for a fee based on the income of the patient. In 1945, these figures were 1/- per visit for the poorest, rising to 5/- per visit for the wealthier patients.
The majority of the nurse’s visits were for general reasons, but the records highlight visits for tuberculosis, expectant mothers, child welfare and to schools and clinics. In 1927 there were 103 subscribers to the service; in that year she made 1551 general visits. By 1946. there were 157 subscribers and she made 2252 general visits.
The first nurse was Nurse Smith followed by Nurses Holmes, Tullock and Hawkins. Nurse Lewis came to the village around 1936 and lived at The Nook and later at Glanrhydd in Durbans Road. Her visits were made in an Austin 7 car provided by the association. She remained a nurse until the late 1960s having transferred to the NHS in 1948.
To call for the services of a nurse, a message had to be written on a slate left outside her house, but by 1945, the nurse could be contacted by telephone. The nurse would only come out at night and Sundays if it was for a maternity case or for a critical case authorised by a doctor. Members of the association were issued with a card upon which their subscriptions could be recorded. This card had to be produced when the services of a nurse were required.
The association disbanded in 1948 upon the formation of the National Health Service.
If you’ve any memories of the nurses and the care you received, we’d like to hear from you. Also, do you know who the doctors were in those days?