Celebrating 100 years of hospital built as First World War memorial

In the 1950s, the hospital had 12 inpatient beds that were mainly used for maternity. Credit: North Cumbria Integrated Care

Brampton War Memorial Hospital is celebrating its 100th birthday.

The hospital was built as a memorial to those who died in the First World War. Opened in 1923 it has served the community of Brampton and the surrounding areas.

Florence Scott had been working at the hospital since she left school at 16-years-old.

Florence started and ended her career at Brampton Hospital. Credit: North Cumbria Integrated Care

Brampton Hospital played a pivotal part in her career after she responded to an advert in the local newspaper. It was then she met the matron of the hospital.

Florence Scott said: "She appeared like a ship in full sail. A large lady with a long flowing white cap. She talked to me at length and asked me to come to the hospital in the school holidays to get an insight into nursing.”

Brampton Hospital was first opened 100 years ago. Credit: North Cumbria Integrated Care

Florence left school against her parents wishes and started working full time at the hospital. She earned £6 a month and worked a variety of shifts.

In the 1950s, the hospital had 12 inpatient beds that were mainly used for maternity. When it was busy beds were added to the corridor and in the nursery sometimes babies were put head to tail when space was short.

Florence earned £6 a month when she joined. Credit: North Cumbria Integrated Care

Florence said: "This room was always very busy, day and night. Mothers stayed in bed after delivery for three days and then they stayed in hospital for a total of ten days. Fathers were not allowed on the labour ward and visiting hours were very strict.

"Often the babies were delivered on the ward if the labour ward was occupied and often by the patient’s own doctor otherwise it was the on duty midwife."

Florence experienced many sad days working in the hospital, with the death of babies and the elderly. There was an onsite mortuary but the only access was through a door in the kitchen.

She said: "We didn’t have trollies, we had two poles and a canvas stretcher. Even if there was only two nurses on duty we had to carry the patient – whatever size or weight – to the mortuary and we had to go through the kitchen.

The hospital opened in 1923. Credit: North Cumbria Integrated Care

"There were no hoists, we had to lift patients into the bath when necessary and all the beds were the same height, you had to bend or stretch no matter how tall or short you were."

Florence remembers the excitement of the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. It was decided that a TV should be bought so the patients and staff could watch it. However the day didn’t go as she hoped.

She said: “I was on a split shift because I was in the final of the Ladies’ tennis tournament in Brampton. On that day two Coronation babies were born but one needed to be transferred to Carlisle so I was nominated to go with the family.

"This meant I missed the Coronation but managed to get back for my tennis match, which I lost. I was back in work at 5pm with my own memories of Coronation day.”

Florence Scott started and ended her career at Brampton. Credit: North Cumbria Integrated Care

After working in Brampton Florence went to work at the Cumberland Infirmary, but finished her career where it started.

She said: “I was fortunate late in my career to get a post back at Brampton hospital which meant I could finish my working life where it had all started.

“Some things have not changed – the work is still hard both physically and emotionally and I still salute the staff of today.”

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