From the workhouse of the Chorlton Union to the largest teaching hospital in Europe, this afternoon we charted the fascinating development of Withington Hospital on Nell Lane. Beginning with a presentation on the workhouse, we looked at the utilitarian principles leading to their creation and the pioneering ‘pavillions’ designed by Thomas Worthington, constructed to Florence Nightingale’s specifications. Also covered was a look at the daily life of its ‘inmates’, along with Admiral Doenitz’s impressions of a submarine- made in a failed attempt to plead insanity while a prisoner of war.
After a welcome tea break we were given a fascinating account of nursing life at Withington by Antonette Hunter, illustrated with an array of her personal photographs, newspaper cuttings and excerpts from books and articles. In describing the development of microscopic surgery, the use of leeches in reconstructive surgery, royal visits, and sneaking back into the nurses’ home as a trainee, she left us well aware of the great work carried on at the site.
We introduced the session by asking the group for reminiscences about women’s working lives, for our project running throughout March around International Women’s Day. If you have any recollections you’d like to add, or know somebody whose story has yet to be told, why not visit our website and make a contribution, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit us at the library?
Next week we will be discussing ‘Railways and People’ with Eddie Johnson, railway historian. The talk is free to attend end everybody is welcome.