Early days of nurs­ing in­clude gal­lantry in First World War

West Sussex County Times - - Nostalgia -

The early days of nurs­ing saw the hospi­tal go­ing to the pa­tient, rather than the pa­tient go­ing to the hospi­tal. Prompted by the 200th an­niver­sary of the birth of Florence Nightin­gale, the founder of mod­ern nurs­ing, Jeremy Knight, Hor­sham mu­seum and her­itage man­ager, has been search­ing the archives to find out how her work im­pacted on the town.

Mr Knight aid: “Back in the 18th cen­tury, the town had a pest house or iso­la­tion build­ing, where if you had con­ta­gious dis­eases you stayed. Un­for­tu­nately, we know noth­ing about how it op­er­ated. In fact, there is lit­tle men­tion at all of nurs­ing till af­ter Florence Nightin­gale set up her nurs­ing school in 1860, with the first nurses be­ing trained by 1865. This led to an un­der­stand­ing of the pro­fes­sion­al­i­sa­tion of nurs­ing.

“It was prob­a­bly this and the dis­cus­sion of it in the me­dia of the time that led to the cre­ation of the Hor­sham Nurs­ing As­so­ci­a­tion in 1878.”

Hor­sham had a local board of health and a num­ber of doc­tors but the town did not have a hospi­tal, so the sick had to be tended in their own home.

Mr Knight said: “If the pa­tient couldn’t go to the hospi­tal, then let the hospi­tal go to the pa­tient, and so in 1878 Hor­sham Nurs­ing As­so­ci­a­tion was formed.”

As the Par­ish Mag­a­zine of 1884 noted, though, it was ‘hardly known or ap­pre­ci­ated suf­fi­ciently’.

Mr Knight said: “It was felt by a few ladies of the town that the poor of the town needed the ‘skilled and com­pe­tent’ ser­vices of a nurse. They raised funds to pay for one, who lasted a year, fol­lowed by Mrs Chat­field, who was still in post in 1884. In 1882, she nursed 14 pa­tients, in 1883 24, some of whom she had looked af­ter in 1883.

“The set up was sim­ple. Ap­pli­ca­tion was made for the nurse to the com­mit­tee mem­ber, the nurse cost 1s a week, though daily vis­its could be made at 3d a day. The nurse then boards with the fam­ily and ‘al­ways does all in her power to make their homes and fam­i­lies com­fort­able’.”

Nurse’s chate­laine, dated be­tween 1850 and 1900, con­tain­ing sev­eral med­i­cal in­stru­ments, such as for­ceps, scis­sors, tweezers, tongue de­pres­sor and a glass ther­mome­ter Pic­tures: Hor­sham Mu­seum and Art Gallery

The as­so­ci­a­tion in 1883 bought an in­valid bath-chair, through do­na­tions, and the suc­cess of the scheme meant by 1886, they could have two nurses.

It was around this time Lil­ian An­nie Mar­gareta Franklin was born, the only daugh­ter of Hor­sham whole­sale mer­chant Wil­liam Franklin. In 1909, Lil­ian joined the First Aid Nurs­ing Yeo­manry, or FANY, which had been founded two years ear­lier. Women aged from 18 to 30 pro­vided their own horses, uni­form, paid 10s en­rol­ment fee and 6s a month sub­scrip­tion.

By 1910 the or­gan­i­sa­tion had frag­mented, with only six peo­ple left in FANY, and it was mainly down to Franklin that it sur­vived.

Mr Knight said: “Sur­vive it did and at the out­break of World War One, they of­fered their ser­vices to the War Of­fice, who weren’t in­ter­ested, but the French and Bel­gians were and soon they ran their hos­pi­tals, casualty sta­tions, drove am­bu­lances and sup­ply cars for the next four years along the front.”

By Jan­uary 1916, the Bri­tish even­tu­ally gave in and gave com­mand of a con­voy formed at Calais, with Lil­lian be­ing the first woman to of­fi­cially drive for the Bri­tish Army. The women were orig­i­nally housed in tents on the beach, tak­ing the dead and wounded to the hos­pi­tals or hospi­tal ships. In 1917, Lil­lian was men­tioned in despatches and in 1918, Lil­ian was made an OBE and re­ceived a Bel­gium gal­lantry award.

A nurse holding a baby in the 1920s Nurses from the 1920s

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