4th April 1934 - February 2011 Montagu Hospital Nurses Home
by Julia Ashby Photo: Ron James
Montagu Hospital was officially opened by James Montagu, on 18th May
1905, the accommodation provided for both the matron and the nursing
staff was believed to be some of the best.
But as the years past and the hospital expanded, with childrens’
wards, more male and female surgery wards, operating theatres,
mortuary and post mortem room, porter’s house, electrical treatment
dept., plus the opening of the first West Riding County Council
Maternity Home, this once first class accommodation, became
inadequate and hugely overcrowded.
Thus it was that a need was felt to construct a new Nurses’ Hostel.
The search began firstly, by the Management of the hospital, to
obtain finances to fulfil this project which, as the country was in
recession like today, was difficult to obtain.
Although many private individuals and smaller firms helped with
this, the vast majority of the finances were gained via grants from
three sources: £8,109 came from the Miners Welfare Fund; £2,500 from
the West Riding County Council; and the smallest of the three, at
£314, came from the Barnsley British Co-operative Society.
They began to look for a suitable site and in 1930 purchased three
quarters of an area of land, close to the junction of Adwick Road
and Cemetery Road, adjacent to the gates of the hospital, for which
they paid the princely sum of £500.
The search then went out to find someone who had the expertise to
design a building which was good enough for our nurses.
And just to indicate in what high esteem and what value was placed
on our ‘Angles’ I can do no better than quote what was stated at the
opening by Alderman Probert, of the West Riding County Council, and
Mr. W.A. Lewis, Chairman of the Board of Management, who both made
comments, the sentiments of which others in positions of power at
present could stand to take heed.
Ald. Probert stated that when members found out the purpose of the
grant “not a voice was raised in protest against the grant in County
Hall” he then went on to say “the hospital had the reputation of
being second to none in South Yorkshire”. Mr. W.A. Lewis said “The
Board of Management felt that nothing was too good for nurses who
were doing their best for the welfare of the public”.
Whereas others commented “No one will grudge them this handsome
Their arduous and unpleasant duties entitled them to a far better
home life than it has hitherto been able to provide”.
So the designer had to be the best that their money could provide
and their knight in shining armour came in the form of a local man,
Mr. David Harrop. David William Harrop, to give him his full name,
was born in 1889, the son of David Harrop, a carpenter, and his wife
Mary Jane, and a couple of years after his birth, in 1891, we find
him living at 31 Bank Street with: his parents; brother Frances
Horace; plus his three sisters, Edith, Mary and May.
He was educated in Mexborough but studied his craft at Rotherham
Technical School and during the 1st WW served partially in Russia.
On his return home he was appointed Housing Architect to Mexborough
Urban District Council, a post which he later left to become
Prior to the drawing of blueprints for the Nurses’ Home he had
designed churches in Ashopton, a village later to be flooded by the
creation of the Ladybower Dam, plus another in Woodseats, Sheffield.
It appears that their choice of designer could not have been better
as everyone who saw the completed Nurses’ Home indicated that it was
a valuable piece of architecture in the town, having a neo-Georgian
façade with certain art-deco points, such as the datestone and also
the stained glass windows.
The interior consisted of : thirty bedrooms, twenty, on the ground
floor for day nurses, and ten upstairs for those on the night shift;
a large recreation room; large lecture room; separate sitting rooms
for the home sister, sisters, and staff nurses; study; two reception
rooms; linen room; and thoroughly modern and hygienic kitchen.
The entrance porch lead to a hall with corridors leading off to the
right and left and a staircase took you to the first floor. The
walls, in the hall, were covered in tiles and the floor was laid
with mock marble flooring consisting of tiny chips of ground stone,
known as Terrazzo Flooring.
An architect obtained the next person to find was a builder worthy
of the project and this came in the form of Messrs G.H. Smith and
Sons Ltd., Rock Pottery Yard, Bank Street, Mexborough. The same
highly skilled and professional firm that had constructed the
hospital itself, some thirty years previously.
By the time the Nurses’ Home was constructed George Henry would have
been approx eighty years old and his brother Frank in his late
seventies, therefore the Frank Smith, who attended the opening, and
made a speech stating how proud they had been to be entrusted with
the work, is believed to be the son of George Henry, then running
the firm. Last but not least came the finishing touches.
The first of these was the interior design and who better to give
hard working nurses, exactly what they wanted in the form of home
comforts, than someone with a lifetime of nursing experience, and
came in the form of Miss Wesley, the matron of the hospital who was
supported in this by the Barnsley British Co-operative Society, who
provided most of the items at bare factory price.
Another item not to missed was the garden, where the nurses could
sit and relax at the end of long trying day, here Mr. M.C. Martyn,
Manager of Wath Main Colliery and member of the hospital management
came to the fore and undertook this personally.
He also arranged for the General Electric Comp. to provide and
install ‘wirelesses’ in both the hospital and Nurses’ Home. The
building completed and everything ready the Montagu Hospital Nurses’
Hostel was opened on Saturday 14th April 1934.
Hundreds of people crammed the entrance of Cemetery Road to see the
opening which was accomplished with great aplomb by Mrs. Humble,
wife of Mr. W. Humble Chairman of the Doncaster Collieries
Association, of Skellow Grange, Carcroft Doncaster.
The ceremonies began by the unveiling of two plaques in the
boardroom of the hospital, these being to the late Hon. Mrs. Lindley
Wood, who as Mrs. Montagu had been the first patroness and the other
to Mrs S.O. Hatherley, who prior to her marriage had been the first
A short preamble, through the thronged crowds, was then taken across
the road to the nurses’ home where a short service of dedication
took place lead by the Bishop of Sheffield, assisted by the Rev.
E.A.A. Somerset, vicar of Mexborough, accompanied by the band of
Mexborough Salvation Army. Mr. Harrop then past the keys of the home
to Mrs. Humble for the official opening, who in her speech
reiterated the deep feelings of love and respect felt towards
nurses, on the whole, by stating: “It was fitting that such a home
should be provided for the nurses.
Their profession was arduous, and they needed the relaxation it
afforded. One gift every nurse seemed to posses was cheerfulness and
she felt everyone owed much to them for displaying that spirit. Some
time before coming to Mexborough she heard that the Montagu Hospital
had a high reputation for the quality of its nurses and the
efficiency of its management.
It was an appreciation which she herself would like to offer on this
occasion. To the nurses she said, ‘I trust you will always find in
this home peace and happiness’”. A bouquet was then presented to
Mrs. Humble by Sister O’Callaghan.
This was followed by speeches given by ‘the great and the good’
which consisted of Mr. Ashwin Chairman of the Miners Welfare Fund,
Ald. Probert of the County Council, Mr. Lewis Chairman of the Board
of Management, Mr. Percy Bannister Treasurer of the hospital, and
lastly Mr. D.S. Humphreys J.P. and Vice Chairman of the Board of
Management. The last two speech, which were given by Mr. Tom Smith
M.P. and the Bishop of Sheffield both carried messages which are
noteworthy, by the ‘great and the good’ of today.
Mr. Smith M.P. stated: “Mexborough, above all other districts,
needed adequate hospital accommodation because the industries
claimed such a heavy toll”. Whereas the Bishop went on to say “There
was no more Christlike and worthy of Christian support than the work
of the hospitals.
He was sure Mexborough was not going to be behind. It would support
its hospital and be sure it was kept on a firm foundation and be a
priceless blessing for all time”. Following this they were escorted
on a guided tour of the home.
After all the pomp and ceremony of the speeches and official opening
the doors were then opened to the general public, many of which had
indirectly subscribed to its construction via their weekly payments
made to the Welfare Fund, and a wave of humanity surged forth eager
to see the home they had worked so hard to provide.
So many were there that it had to remain open from Saturday until
the following Monday and hundreds past through its doors, to inspect
its interior and what they had managed to provide for their nurses.
The Nurses Home stood, one of the symbols of pride to the working
people of this area, from 14th April 1934 to February 2011, when,
during that month, it was demolished to make way for housing.
Information obtained from: South Yorkshire Times editions dated
13.04.1934, 20. 04.1934. 1891 Census Returns for Mexborough
Mexborough Trade Directories. A Short History of Montagu Hospital
1889-1925 The Montagu Hospital Jubilee Handbook 1890-1940
News From the Local History Room
The Local History Room
As you know the Local History Room, which was opened in 2001 to
serve the needs of anyone wishing to know anything of the vast local
and family history of the area has had to close.
This despite the efforts of the Hon. Ed. Milliband M.P. and local
councillors. The increase in rent asked by DMBC was too excessive
for us to cope with.
But this is not the end as both our Microfiche and Microfilm
Readers, and one of our metal cabinets, plus some of our archival
material is now situated in a more prominent and accessible area of
the library, this being to the fore of the reference section of
Mexborough Library and everyone will have access there to: South
Yorkshire Times 1928-1951 Parish Church Records and Indexes Census
Returns Burial Records Mexborough Cemetery Records 1877-c1930
Also as free internet and e-mail facilities have been offered Julia
or another member of our hard working committee, will try to be on
hand, most afternoons, in order to answer your enquiries.
Many thanks must go to Mr. G. Schofield, ‘The Croft’, Pastures Road,
Mex. who came forward with the offer of an office, free of charge at
the farm, plus the manpower needed to move everything. Here will be
stored items which cannot be contained at the library, such as our
computer, printers, scanner, desk, photocopier, stationary,
artefacts, and the main source of our archives.
Copyright: This newsletter may not be reproduced, in
part or in its entirety, without the permission of J.R. Ashby.