Rhyl’s convalescent homes were a way for children from the Potteries to get short breaks by the seaside


Life in the 1950s and 1960s was hard for our parents. However, for the children it was a great time to grow up. We had fields and plenty of places where we could play.

We had a TV set in the mid-1950s, and I can remember watching the children’s programmes of the early years of the BBC – programmes like Watch with Mother, The Adventures of Twizzle, Torchy the Battery Boy and so on. We were like most families on our estate, everyone looked after each other.

Royal Alexandra Hospital, Rhyl, 1925 the year before it opened as a convalescent home welcoming children

Our house was built in about 1950. It was a council house on a large estate, a half metal clad three bedroom house.

They were built after the war as cheap housing, most of the families were not very well off.

My father was a self-employed painter, decorator and builder. My mother was a housewife. She looked after us all with some amazing baking, cooking and love.

It was the year of 1963 when my mother received a letter from the council saying that they were sending me and one of my younger brothers to a respite home in north Wales, in November. I was just 11-years-old and my brother was nine-years-old.

At first it was quite exciting to be going on a two-week holiday by the seaside. However, when the actual day arrived I was quite upset about having to leave my family behind.

The day arrived and our parents took us to the bus. We loaded up our little bags onto the bus, we kissed our parents goodbye, and we sat in our seats.

Read More

The Way We Were

As the bus pulled away, I can remember feeling very strange waving to our parents – it was as if I would never see them again. My brother was in floods of tears.

I knew two other children on the bus, so that made me feel a little better.

The bus trip was quite a long one as the buses in those days were very slow and most of the journey was through the countryside, which helped a little because me and my brother started to count all the haystacks that we saw and it took our minds off everything else for a while.

Picture of how staff at the homes suchy as in Rhyl were turned out

We eventually arrived at the home. It was situated close to the sea. It was an imposing looking red brick building in its own grounds.

I could see the front door and as I looked up, I saw about ten windows at the front, and opposite the home was another smaller building which was only two storeys high and it only had two windows that I could see.

We all got off the bus and were shown into the reception area. I thought that it was strange because there were a couple of ladies and they were dressed in nurses’ uniforms, and this was not a hospital.

We were all checked in and all the boys had to follow one of the nurses up some stairs, along a corridor and into a very large room with about 20 single beds in it. The girls were led away to another part of the home.

We were all told to unpack our clothes and then make our way back downstairs for tea.

Read More

The Way We Were around North Staffordshire

The dormitory was quite a noisy place with about 20 boys in it. Some were very noisy while some were very quiet, and you could see that they were upset.

My brother was still very upset, he had been crying for most of the day. I did my best to console him. I was upset but I did not want him to know, so I tried to hide it.

I took my brother’s hand and we went downstairs. We were shown into the dining room, where we all sat on benches with the other children and waited for others to arrive.

When everyone was seated, one of the nurses banged on a gong and she said, “Repeat after me, for what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly grateful” which we did.

Then we were given a plate of sausages and tinned tomatoes and a round of bread.

As I was eating my meal, I noticed something moving on my plate, and as I looked closer I saw that it was a maggot wriggling about in my tomatoes.

I felt quite sick when I saw it, so I left the rest of my meal and put my knife and fork down.

When a nurse came over to me she said “eat up your tomatoes”.

“There is a maggot in them,” I said. “It won’t kill you”, she said, and she proceeded to remove the maggot off my tomatoes and put it onto my side plate.

“Come on now, eat them up,” she said. But I couldn’t eat them as the thought of it makes me feel ill.

“You must eat them up or you will have to sit here until you do”.

A scene at a children’s convalescent home at , April 1953, which would have been not to dissimilar from what David encountered

And she proceeded to put the tomatoes onto a spoon and force feed them to me, and I ended up being sick. My brother was now crying again as he saw me feeling ill. He then turned to me and he said, “I want to go home now please”. He held my hand and looked at me with very sad eyes.

“Come on then, we will go to see the nurse,” I said.

I asked a nurse who do I have to see about going home, and she took us to an office door that said ‘matron’ on it.

The nurse knocked on the door and a voice called, “Enter”.

We all went in and there was a lady sitting behind a desk, I think she was a matron, and she had a pair of glasses perched on the end of her nose.

She looked up and said: “Yes, how can I help you?”

“We want to go home now please,” I said. “You want to go home? You have only been here for one day, why do you want to go home?”

“We don’t like it here, and my brother is missing our Mam and Dad, he keeps crying for them.”

“Well, I am sorry about that. However you are going to have to stay here for two weeks as there is no way of getting you home. You will be OK tomorrow, you will see.

“We are taking you all out to the seaside tomorrow. Now, off you go up to your room and the nurse here will help you.”

So, reluctantly, we followed the nurse, who I found out was named nurse Olwyn.

She was lovely. She took us up to our dormitory and she told us to have a wash and then get into our pyjamas.

When we had done so and everyone else was ready for bed, two nurses came into the room – one with a tray of bread and butter, and one with a white enamel bucket full of milk.

So we each had a cup of milk and a piece of bread and butter, which I really enjoyed.

Once we had eaten the bread and butter and drank our milk, we were told to get into bed and go to sleep as we have a busy day tomorrow.

When the nurses left the room, they turned off the lights. Once the bedroom door clicked shut, all you could hear was children crying and whimpering.

It was very strange being in a room with children that you did not know, and our parents were not there, but we were all in the same situation – although I think that some of the boys were glad to be away from their parents.





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *