Princess Margaret made a special request to visit the Biddulph Grange orthopaedic hospital on July 4, 1973.
The Princess had met the consultant orthopaedic surgeon Denys Wainwright at Keele University, where she was Chancellor for nearly 30 years, and decided to make a trip.
The Countess of Snowdon chatted to a number of the 42 children, who were patients there, where she was told it was a regular routine to take beds into the open air on sunny days. Those she saw were long-stay patients suffering from polio, rickets and other bone diseases and fractures.
A picture of her visit is included in a book on Biddulph by Derek Wheelhouse, who points out that the hospital was first opened in 1924 by Princess Margaret’s uncle, the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII.
After a few years it was taken over by Lancashire County Council and in the 1930s new buildings replaced the original wooden wards. Biddulph Grange itself became part of the hospital premises and a school was established for long-stay children.
The National Trust took over the gardens in 1988 and the hospital closed in 1991, after which the buildings were demolished. However, Derek says the hospital’s old operating theatre was inside the house. It is now used as a tea-room for visitors.