Does any­one re­mem­ber the doc­tors of old Dar­las­ton?

Black Country Bugle - - YOUR LETTERS -

IN this year of 2018 it is the 60th an­niver­sary of the Na­tional Health Ser­vice. For­tu­nately (or un­for­tu­nately) I can re­mem­ber a time be­fore the NHS – just.

Our fam­ily doc­tor in 1948 was Dr Mc­fad­don, who had his prac­tice at his home on The Leys, Dar­las­ton. I can re­mem­ber sit­ting in the wait­ing room on one of the many din­ing room chairs placed around the room against the walls.

No ap­point­ment sys­tem, just walk in and take your turn. My mother col­lected the nec­es­sary med­i­cal records from a small win­dow as we en­tered, from the dis­penser in the small dis­pen­sary.

She would then take the next avail­able seat and ask ‘who do I fol­low?’ There was no method in place to say who this was and no names were called, you just kept an eye on that per­son and went in as he or she came out of the doc­tor’s surgery.

Brits have al­ways been a na­tion of queuers, and woe be­tide any­one who queue-jumped. In hind­sight, peo­ple had lived through six years of queues for ev­ery­thing dur­ing the war and it had be­come a way of life. World War Three could have bro­ken out over queue jump­ing and some­times very nearly did on oc­ca­sions. Such was the strength of the ar­gu­ments at times, even in doc­tors’ wait­ing rooms.


Fol­low­ing your time with the doc­tor, you would cross the wait­ing room to the small dis­pen­sary and your pre­scrip­tion would be dealt with there and then; no tak­ing it to a chemist shop or go­ing back to col­lect it. There were no phar­ma­cists in chemist’s shops at that time. Prior to 1948, all doc­tors’ prac­tices were pri­vate and in­de­pen­dent chemists didn’t have a phar­ma­cist un­til a num­ber of years later.

The first doc­tor I re­mem­ber be­ing taken to was Dr Mcnamee, whose house was a big one on the Wal­sall Road in Dar­las­ton, set in its own grounds. The build­ing is still there, a lit­tle way down to­wards All Saints Church, on the op­po­site side of the road. To­day it is a group prac­tice. A clear mem­ory of mine is from 1945, when the VE Day bon­fire was built in Wit­ton Street, where I lived with my par­ents at the time. We lived at num­ber 33 and my name then was Pauline Toft. I was clam­ber­ing over the de­bris which was in a crater made by the church when it was bombed. I hit my head on a piece of ma­sonry and this re­sulted in a small but deep cut.

I was taken to Dr Mcnamee’s, and he stitched it and be­cause I didn’t cry while he did that, I was given my first square of Cad­bury’s choco­late. Ev­ery­thing was still on ra­tion at this time.

Is there any­one out in Bu­gle land who has a mem­ory of these doc­tors, par­tic­u­larly Dr Mc­fad­don, or even a pho­to­graph of his home and prac­tice, or maybe The Leys?

There was a com­mu­nal wa­ter pump on the pave­ment out­side Dr Mc­fad­don’s, as I re­call, from the days when there was no piped wa­ter for the tiny houses which stood cheek by jowl in the square. But that’s a story for an­other time, per­haps

Pauline Poole, Har­rowby Place, Wil­len­hall See­ing the story in the Bu­gle re­cently about the Black Coun­try Mu­seum and their plans to re­lo­cate the old Wood­side Li­brary got me think­ing about how these won­der­ful old places came to be here in the first place.

It was down to the gen­eros­ity of the busi­ness­man and phi­lan­thropist An­drew Carnegie that thou­sands of li­braries were built, all for the good of the gen­eral pub­lic.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to count, but so many peo­ple have learnt such a lot of things from his kind­ness. He re­ally has left a last­ing legacy.

Mr J Green­sill, Bewdley

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