Life at the Duchess

On Tuesday afternoon in the Library we were fortunate to host Myra Wood, former Matron at Burnage’s well-loved Duchess of York Children’s Hospital talking about her work over 39 years of Nursing.


Qualifying in 1954 Myra saw great changes in the way children’s health was dealt with. Rickets, TB and diseases of poverty still affected children from across Manchester, nurses developed strong relationships with children who often stayed for very long periods of time recovering from serious conditions. Infection control was strictly enforced, along with a rule of iron over nursing staff which included no talking between nurses on the ward. Parents were also banished apart from visiting times, a huge contracts to attitudes today.

Moving to Burnage in November 1915, the Hospital was almost exclusively run by women, from the Doctors, and nursing staff, fundraisers and administrators, and by Myra’s time was carrying out pioneering work with cleft palate and hare lip surgery, the care of premature babies. The hospital built special units for the care of children with disabilities and learning difficulties and Myra was recognised on her retirement for her work to improve the treatment of parents experiencing cot death, by the then Prime Minister John Major.


Joining us to hear Myra were many former nurses and other staff members from the Duchess, each sharing their own stories about the hospital. It was great to host such a gathering, bringing former colleagues together who fed off each other’s memories, and we were treated to some wonderful anecdotes about the place! People have also been very generous in sharing with us a great deal of material on the history of the institution, which we will present soon on our Memory Bank Website.

Myra with the bikers who'd visit the hospital on Christmas Day

Myra with the bikers who’d visit the hospital on Christmas Day

Click here to hear Myra talking about her life in the Duchess.

We’d all like to thank Myra for visiting us this week, and we’re grateful for her generosity in assisting with our Memory Bank project.

Why not join us next Tuesday when we will talk about the Garden Village?