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Sanatorium - newsclips

Rushden Echo, 22nd June 1923, transcribed by Kay Collins

Raunds Gleemen at Rushden
Sanatorium Patients’ Musical Treat
Gift from the Boot Operatives Union

Last night the Raunds Gleemen, a male voice choir which is rapidly forging ahead and which now ranks with the leading male musical combinations of Northamptonshire, gave a delightful programme at the Rushden House Sanatorium—a programme which greatly charmed the patients and staff. The concert was kindly arranged by the Rushden and Higham District Branch of the Boot Operatives’ Union. Mr. A. Camozzi (president of the Raunds Gleemen) occupied the chair, supported—in the unavoidable absence of Mr. C. Bates, the president of the Boot Operatives’ Union branch—by Mr. W. Langley, J.P., and Mr. E. Batchelor, the branch secretary and assistant secretary.

Under the capable conductorship of Mr. W. Hardwick, the coir sang the glees “Rolling Down to Rio” and “Bushes and Briars,” the test pieces at the North Northants Musical Competitions, for which they secured first prize and the banner for the best rendering of the day. Splendidly balanced in tone, with accurate attack, with a perfect response to the conductor’s baton, and with true and full melody, the choir gave choice renderings of the two glees. Subsequently they sang the part-song “Killarney” with adequate attention to light and shade and with effective solo work by Mr. C. Green. The selection “The Banks of Allan Water” was given with the needed spirit at the opening and with due pathos in the sad conclusion. Two sacred selections were sung in a reverential manner and with real dignity.

A duet was pleasingly sung by Mrs. Haseldine (Raunds) and her sister, Miss Lily Wooding (Rushden). Songs were contributed by Mr. C. Coles, Mr. E. Eaton, and Mr. C. Green in good style, and a humorous song was given by Mr. S. Pratt. Mr. Haseldine was the accompanist.

During an interval, Mr. Langley, on behalf of the Boot Operatives’ Union branch, handed to the Matron (Miss Alsopp) a gift of chocolates for the female patients and cigarettes for the men. He referred to the lovely surroundings of the Sanatorium, and said he was pleased with the wonderful work which was being done there. Judging from those patients who came from Irthlingborough, they had reason to be delighted with the results. The medical Officer for Irthlingborough, at the last meeting of the Council, said that one patient from Irthlingborough had returned in perfect health, stronger and healthier than she had been since the day of her birth. He (Mr. Langley) had known her all her life, and he agreed with the doctor.

Mr. Camozzi, at the close of the programme, said that the Raunds Gleemen were ever ready to assist any deserving object.

Mr. C. Cross, C.C., on behalf of the committee, staff, and patients, cordially thanked the local branch of the Boot Operatives’ Union and the artistes, and expressed the hope that the Gleemen’s visit would prove to be the first of a series.

Following the entertainment, the Gleemen sang several selections outside the wards for the benefit of the patients who were not well enough to attend the concert.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 2nd August 1957, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Research ‘drudgery’ has whacked the white scourge
Next time you count your blessings, reflect on this; though we endure the threat of the atom bomb and the reality of road crashes, we are living to see the virtual extinction of tuberculosis of the lung.

No longer do the young and beautiful go into a swift, unwavering decline. Gone from our speech are the words “galloping consumption.” No more does the “white scourge” lay low whole families.

Mass X-rays, new drugs and chest surgery are well on the way to beating tuberculosis of the lung. Today, only 20 people a year die from it in Northamptonshire and doctors are able to say that the number will steadily decrease.

What a change has taken place since the twenties and thirties – the black years. In 1930, 150 people died from lung T.B. in Northamptonshire. Worse the spread of the disease seemed uncontrollable by measures then available.

The wards
The modern wards admit the maximum sun and air, and are surrounded by
delightful gardens in which the patients exercise. The wards are named after
people to whom the hospital is indebted for their work on its behalf.

Dreaded Then
Spearhead of the local treatment of the disease was Rushden Sanatorium, but the atmosphere that surrounded the “san” then was very different from today. Dr. Gilbert Lord, consultant at the sanatorium says himself that it was regarded with dread.

That was not surprising. As the most severe cases from the district were patients in the sanatorium many of the deaths took place there.

The sanatorium became the “unpopular” hospital with a macabre reputation that was quite unjustified. “Don’t go there,” people used to say. “You know what may happen if you do – you may not come out any more.”

“In those days,” Dr. Lord says, “there was little that could be done apart from giving the patient complete rest, trusting to his own resistance and perhaps occasionally collapsing a lung.”

Dr Fisher on his rounds
Smiles all round seem to show that things are going well.
Dr O E Fisher, one of the senior hospital medical officers,
on his rounds.
Different Now
Dr. Crane, in charge from 1922 to 1940, and his staff worked untiringly but it was uphill going the whole time.

The hopeless outlook for many lung tuberculosis patients a quarter of a century ago was reflected in the attitude of many general practitioners. They would say to workers in the T.B. field, Dr. Lord recalls:

“Why do you continue in this hopeless job? I suppose you do expect to get results sometimes?”

Fortunately for the nation the tuberculosis specialists of those days worked on finding and testing new techniques and hoping for better results.

See what a dramatic result has attended their labours. Lung tuberculosis has been almost beaten. Doctors look forward to the time when it will die out, apart from chance infection coming in from abroad.

The general improvement is reflected in Northamptonshire, where the boot factories only ten years ago had a bad reputation as haunts of lung tuberculosis.

Now things are very different. The disease has been banished from the staple trade, people who do contract it can be swiftly found by mass X-ray and treated early and the length of stay in hospital is much shorter.

Value of Mass X-Ray
This is how Dr. Lord explains the progress that has been made: “We are now obtaining the benefit of all the drudgery we did in the past in finding out how to tackle the disease.

“Mass radiography is the biggest single preventive measure we have ever had. It has unearthed a lot of infective cases so that we have been able to isolate them from home and factory contacts and so stop further damage by the spread of infection.

“The drugs in use today enable us to give the disease a knock-out blow. They have opened the way to an increased use of surgery, because the operation becomes safer.”

As result of the new methods Dr Lord observes it is no trouble at all to get patients to agree to enter the sanatorium.

“There is no dread of coming in now, simply because it has become fairly evident from the experience of others that patients will get on well and be back at work in a reasonable time.”

High Spirits
In the atmosphere of the sanatorium itself there has been a big change. Now that the disease can be detected early patients often do not feel ill. They are full of high spirits do not think of themselves as invalids, or see the necessity for careful treatment in bed at the beginning of their stay.

In fact it would not be going too far to say that the high spirits of the patients are at times a slight problem to the staff!

But, as any doctor will tell you this is all to the good. The attitude of mind has a great effect in cases of lung T.B. The happier a patient is the better. “It’s when they turn their faces to the wall that we begin to get really worried.” Dr Lord adds. “If they give up we can’t do anything.”

In practice, there are no face-to-the wall cases now. People want to get out and about again and the sanatorium does its best to see that they achieve this in record time.

As recently as the 1940’s, patients might be in bed for 18 months or two years and then fail to recover.

Almost a Certainty
Today for early cases, the usual stay is four to six months with almost a certainty of recovery. There has not been a death in the sanatorium from respiratory tuberculosis at all this year. In the old days there would have been 25 to 30.

All this has not been achieved without expense. In pre-war days expenditure per bed was about 33s a week. Now it is about £10, due to the cost of equipment, treatment, drugs, salaries and provisions. If we take inflation into account, this means that the costs have doubled.

But those few pounds a bed are repaid a million times in terms of health and happiness. Our debt to those who shouldered the drudgery of research half a lifetime ago and whose work has beaten the “white scourge” will never be repaid.

‘San’ Site is Pleasant Spot
Rushden House Sanatorium enjoys (as the guide books would say) a pleasant situation on a hill above the town. Once it was the house and gardens of Mr. Edward Campbell Browning, J.P., who moved there from Knuston Hall. He, his wife, and their three daughters were well-known Rushden personalities, although Mr. Browning’s business interests lay elsewhere.

Ruggedly built of local stone, the house itself looks much as it did when the family lived there. Wards have been built in the spacious grounds, but a big expanse of lawns and gardens remain.

The house was bought by County Council for use as a sanatorium in the early 1920’s and is amusing to recall, in the light of Rushden’s affection for the “san” that in those days townspeople were against it. Arguments were raised that the sanatorium would pollute the air and that it should be isolated in the country, but this antipathy soon vanished and was succeeded by enthusiastic support.

Many people played their part, but none more so than Dr. J. H. Crane, an Irishman whose bubbling kindly sense of humour did much to cheer patients, staff and voluntary workers. He was in charge for many years, and died in harness in 1940.

nurses home
Rushden House looks just as it was in the days when it was a residence and the gardens are kept at the same standard. It is now used as a nurses’ home and two of the nursing staff here add the finishing touch to the picture.
The middle 1930’s were remarkable for a major rebuilding programme, which was completed during the first years of the war. Wooden pavilions which had served as wards were replaced by modern brick ones and a treatment block with x-ray and other apparatus was added.

The house itself serves as a nurse’s home.

Mainly the sanatorium’s 80 beds are devoted to chest cases but shortly a new unit dealing with skin complaints is to be established and will use a dozen of the beds.

Complaints dealt with in the chest wards are tuberculosis, bronchitis and allied troubles, and cancer of the lungs. Treatment at Rushden consists mainly of rest, supplemented by minor surgical work. If major chest surgery becomes necessary the patients go to the Creaton Sanatorium or the Peppard Chest Hospital at Henley-on-Thames.

When Cats Could Play
Cats are all very well in their proper place, but their proper place is NOT in the wards of Rushden Sanatorium. So decided the House Committee – and thereby hangs a tale.

Doors and windows of the “San” are open as much as possible, and word got around among Rushden’s stray cats that the patients were friendly folk who could be relied upon to hand out a spot of milk or a bit of meat to a casual feline visitor.

As a result, lots of cats called at the Sanatorium, made friends with the patients, and established themselves on the premises. By and by they even had kittens – as cats will.

This was where the House Committee decided to draw the line. The number of cats on strength, they decided, must be reduced. So the hospital handyman was sent round with a sack, with the object of capture and humane disposal.

Alas – so the story goes – there was not a cat to be found. The patients had heard of the impending purge, and had smuggled all their feline pals out of sight!

The next foray had to be a surprise!

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 9th August 1957, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Youngsters: don’t start to smoke
Last week we saw how the fight against lung T.B. has all but ended in victory. But Rushden Sanatorium also deals with another chest illness about which much remains to be done – lung cancer.

This has replaced tuberculosis as a major respiratory disease, and the steep rate of increase all over the country is reflected in the number of cases in Northamptonshire. In men, the lung is now the most common site for cancer.

Dr. Gilbert Lord, explaining how the disease develops, said that the growths block the bronchus – the branching air tube leading into the lung – at one or more points.

The effect of this is that air cannot reach the part of the lung beyond the obstruction and it becomes useless. From the original site, the disease is then likely to spread to other parts of the body.

Dr. Lord’s opinion of the cause of the increase in lung cancer is the same as the great body of medical opinion which has recently attributed it to excessive cigarette smoking.

“Excessive” smoking he regards as 30 or more cigarettes a day, Dr. Lord says. He smokes a pipe himself – not because of the cancer scare, but merely because he prefers it. In the same category is Mr. Eric Prior, hospital secretary, who favours a pipe.

“Don’t smoke cigarettes at all is my advice,” Dr. Lord says. “If you have started – stop. If you have not started – don’t.


‘Enemies of The People’
While emphasising that there is no need for light (up to six a day) cigarette smokers to panic, Dr. Lord is very critical of people who say that criticism of heavy cigarette smoking is stuff and nonsense.

He uses Ibsen’s phrase “enemies of the people” to describe them, for they are working against the preventive measures which doctors would like to see voluntarily followed by everyone.

The only certain cure for lung cancer is by operation, and it is obvious that the main attack on the disease must be directed at its causes.

Young men and girls, Dr. Lord says, should be discouraged from starting to smoke. People who have started should be told that if they stop they are still subject to a risk of lung cancer, but a declining risk.

He is less worried about women than men as lung cancer subjects, because they have not been smoking as long, and usually do not inhale.

T.B. Risk is ‘Out’
Is there a risk that nurses looking after T.B. cases will themselves contract the disease? Miss N. Dickens, matron at Rushden Sanatorium, smiles when people ask her this question.

“At one time people coming to nurse in the sanatorium used to ask me: ‘Can you guarantee that we will not get T.B.?’ ” she says.

I used to reply: ‘No, I cannot guarantee that, but I can say that you are no more likely to get T.B. from nursing here than you are in an office or in a street.’ ”

The question is old-fashioned nowadays, for the nurses know that the measures taken give them thorough protection.

To begin with, they know the type of cases they are nursing, and are therefore much less likely to receive infection than they would be from undiagnosed cases.

They are X-rayed every six months and weighed every month as part of a check on their general health, and the slightest suspicion of a cough receives instant attention.


Millions of matches make music
Every time Mrs. Smith, a Rushden housewife, lights the gas she blows out the match and puts it in a box with all her other spent matches. When she has collected a few thousand, she takes them to Rushden Sanatorium – for the patients to use in making musical boxes.

There are lots of housewives in Rushden and district doing the same thing, and their used matches are put to very good use.

The cult of the matchstick musical box has reached enormous proportions at the “san.” It started years ago, when patients looking for something to occupy their time first took up the idea.

The recipe is a simple one. First you get as many matchsticks as you can lay your hands on. With them, using glue as mortar, you build a model of your favourite building.

Finally you get a musical movement playing an appropriate air, fit it into the building and arrange for it to start playing when the door is opened or the roof slid back.

old ward now a workshop
In its early days, Rushden Sanatorium was composed of timber wards like this one.

A few have been kept as museum pieces, and are used by patients as workshops in which to follow their hobbies.

This church in typical Northamptonshire style was made by Mr J Peasnell, while a patient. The material he used was thousands of spent matches, which are collected in great numbers by friends of the sanatorium for patients to use. Mr Peasnell’s church is a musical box, playing hymns.
Mr Peasnell with his model
Lots of families all over the district have matchstick musical boxes taken home by cured patients as a memento of the “san.”

Some of the most ambitious, one man, for example, made a model of Tichmarsh church, and others have chosen churches. There have been many little houses, and one patient is remembered for making a pub which he called “The Lord Fisher.” The significance was not lost upon Dr. Lord and Dr. Fisher when they saw it.

Mrs. Elsie Hensman, who gives instruction in occupational therapy, says that millions of matchsticks have been sent anonymously to the sanatorium, largely by housewives for the use of the musical box makers.

“Usually the matchsticks arrive in big paper bags,” she says. “They are washed and dried; then they are ready for use.”

Musical movements bought for the models are supplied by a Kent firm. The patients order those playing appropriate tunes – “Ave Maria” for a church, “Home Sweet Home” for a house and “Roll out the Barrel” for a pub.

Memories in these names
There is something very personal about the ward titles of Rushden Sanatorium. Dr. Crane, who was in charge for many years until his death in 1940, and memories of whose Irish sense of humour are still treasured, is commemorated by the Crane ward.

Sharwood ward is named after the late Mr. F. J. Sharwood, county councillor and chairman of the former Rushden Hospital Committee for many years.

The Gilbert Lord clinic is called after Dr. Lord, former medical superintendent and now consultant physician, and other wards bear the names of Mr. A. C. A. Colton and Mrs. Elsie Hensman.

Mr Patenall
Rushden Echo and Argus, 9th August 1957, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Ald. H R Patenall, who retired recently from the chairmanship of the Rushden Sanatorium House Committee to become vice-chairman, has had a life-long interest in the care of the sick. He joined the St John Ambulance brigade as a cadet, became Higham Ferrers’ first ambulance officer and, eventually, president of the men’s division. As chairman of Northamptonshire County Council Health Committee, he was chosen last year to inaugurate the ambulance radio-telephone system. He has done a great deal for the hospitals, and during 1945, raised £3,500 by direct personal effort, mostly for the Northampton Hospital extension fund. Like his father, he has been many times Mayor of Higham.

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