Godfrey Jellyman (born 1923)
When father was young, there was a doctor at Chalford Hill; he used to have to do a bit in his garden. Also, when he was on his rounds, he had to drive the horse and cart for the doctor. This was after father had left school.
I am not sure if it was the advent of the NHS or not, but a dentist used to visit the school and set up his ‘surgery’ in the infant classes. This was a dreaded occasion. The district nurse also visited to check pupils over, especially for the dreaded nits. Any cuts or abrasions were treated with iodine.
The France Lynch Rooms were used for quite a lot of different things. A Welfare Clinic was held once a month. Here mothers could purchase their National Dried Milk (the main baby milk at the time), orange juice and cod liver oil. Babies were weighed and a doctor would attend periodically for the immunisations (here of course we are talking definitely early 1960s) not sure which decade these began.
In the summer/autumn, women with their families would walk through the fields collecting blackberries, some of which were made into blackberry vinegar. Diluted with hot water and some sugar, this was a remedy for coughs and colds.
George Gleed (born 1930)
The Women’s Institute (hut) at the bottom of the pleasure ground has been pulled down now. I used to go to welfare there.
Cynthia Gleed (born 1933)
Dr. Middleton lived along the road by where we lived in the council houses. When I was 29 I had to have my varicose veins done in hospital. I was told I could go home and have a bath and I had all these red blotches on my legs and George asked if he’d come and have a look. George made a fuss, like he always did. The next morning he (Dr. Middleton) come in the gate at the bottom and shouted ‘who is that making a fuss’? George told him to get out. We changed doctors then. Dr. Middleton was so unpredictable. We know that people used to go into the surgery and he started playing his bagpipes and people started laughing and he told them to clear off, that there’s nothing wrong with them and he’d clear the surgery.
In the early 60s there was a polio scare. He sent us a postcard when we were at the Skiveralls to say he’d got the vaccine in and when we got there, he was in the road waving this needle around. He was drunk but we had to have it done, but we didn’t know what was in that syringe!
There was Dr. Mundan at Eastcombe, where Crouch’s house is by the church.
Grace Banyard (born 1930)
We were playing French tag in the playground (Chalford Hill School – Infants), where you put your hands out, and the toilets were L shaped and someone opened the door one end and I was stood by the other door and smashed my thumb. They didn’t stitch it then, they just stuck it back on. I had to go to Doctor Dill, the school doctor. He lived where Middleton took over from. Very nice man, but Dr. Munden was our real doctor in Eastcombe. When I did my thumb, I can remember having a lovely little blue dress on and mother had to cut it off me. It took a long time to heal.
We went up into the top school then. There was a cookery class there, where they had the dentist and doctor who came, they used that room.
At Eastcombe they had a girls’ orphanage and when they got to a certain age they all came to France Lynch School, before they went to High School or wherever.
I can remember we didn’t have toothpaste years ago, we just rubbed our finger on the soot in the chimney and rubbed it on our teeth. We used to have a school dentist – I hated that. When they brought the polio and that out, we all had to go there and my arm was very bad, reacted very badly because of my colouring. I had to have it done a second time.
When the farmers gave up, Alan (husband) and his friend went on as foresters, cutting trees, and he was injured very badly and ended up in hospital – broke his leg in 2 or 3 places when a tree fell on him. The saw was still going so he cut himself out and crawled up the bank and got in the landrover and got as far as the gate and then caught the attention of someone. He was in hospital 6 weeks. Before that he got injured too, when a piece of wood shot off the winch and hit him in the side of the head. Then he was rushed to Frenchay.
My dad had rheumatic fever because he was gassed in the 1st World War. That affected his chest. He couldn’t work after he was 59/60. We used to go down to Blizzards to get the herbs. My mother believed in herbs. Dad went into hospital with cancer and he ended up at Salterley Grange and he wasn’t eating and he was on this machine, so I asked if I can bring him something in. Mother always used to make beef tea. Then you could buy it in the chemist, like bottles of Bovril, and so I took this in one night with a spoon and he ate very bit! I used to take him some in every night. He got better. He was 70 something then, and the nurse said she had never heard of that before.
Shirley Bushell (born 1943)
My earliest memory of school is the first week I started school, the school dentist came and he decided to take out four of my milk teeth, just there and then. I was four. No parents there, and they found my gums bled a lot and I had a new yellow knitted cardigan to start school and it was covered in blood. I don’t know what my mother thought when she came to pick me up. I always remember this cardigan covered in blood! The nurse came to look at our heads seeing we didn’t have nits!
Doctor Munden had a surgery in someone’s house on the main road just where the houses were taken down for the road widening in the 1960s – just opposite the village hall, opposite the Round House but on the other side of the road.
Gerald Gardiner (born 1933)
I mainly worked in asbestos for Fibrecrete and they got taken over, taken over, taken over and after all them years of washing my clothes Maureen got the disease that killed her look. She died 11 years ago. I worked from ’55 to ‘67’ with asbestos.
There’s lots of asbestos buried around. There was a chap from Oakridge and all he was doing was taking asbestos waste away. They broke it up and put it on a wagon. The car park at the Old Neighbourhood is all asbestos. It was like a little quarry and they filled it in deep with asbestos. They closed the one by the road as you go along towards the top club because the asbestos started coming up by the track people used. We didn’t have a mask or nothing. They did know it was dangerous from the 30s. I found that out after. When I finished off working I was on the beater floor – it wasn’t a dirty job it was just dusty but you were breathing in bits of fibre like feathers – the bad stuff look. I’ve got something on the right lung – plural plaque. Asbestos like Maureen had turns nasty and you can’t get over it.
Margaret Mills (born 1934)
The doctor’s surgery was in Chalford Valley along the main road – just along from Chalford Church there was a building on the left, where Dr. Hubert Crouch had a surgery. That’s where we went as children; then there was another one in Dr. Middleton’s Road. I remember going to Dr. Middleton once when my own doctor was away. He was quite a character but he was alright with us.
Beryl (born 1941) & Derek (born 1938) Freebury
The visitors to the schools (Eastcombe), the nit nurse, and Mr. Bettridge the health inspector who I think lived in Oakridge, and of course the dentist.
I didn’t work until our youngest child was three and a half, then (1971?) I worked at the local doctor’s surgery just two mornings a week. When he was 14, I worked full time. I worked there for thirty three and a half years until I retired. As the surgery grew, I became practice manager and finished in 2001.
When our boys were growing up there was probably a dozen families with children the same age. We used to go to Welfare by Beavis mini bus once a month and go around picking people up in Water Lane, Oakridge and back into Bisley, where the Welfare was in the WI hall. It was all voluntary then. We went there to collect milk, orange juice and be weighed so all the children got together.
Bob Messenger (born 1950)
Used to be a doctor along the road, along by the Mechanics years ago, and one at Frith Wood. I remember Doctor Middleton, used to be on the whisky. He used to be a surgeon at Stroud hospital didn’t he?– good doctor he was, when he wasn’t drinking. He used to live down the Weavers. Doctor Goodall used to live along here, had a surgery at Frith Wood. Used to be a doctor down here after supermarket closed but they moved to Nailsworth. Went to dentist along Lansdown.
Audrey Bishop (born 1932)
When I was 17 and got into this tuberculosis, when people were away in the panel(?) for a couple of weeks – I was on the panel for 4 years, so you lose contact, you know. You sort of drop out. It was quite a shock to be told you had to go off to Standish. It frightened my poor mum to death. I was in bed here for six months before I could even get in. Then I was in hospital for a year, then I came home.
B Block, we were on, and that was all girls. There were some there about 50. Most of them were pretty young. I remember crying because I had to go. I didn’t want to go. But after I didn’t want to come back, which sounds bad, but you get attached to the environment, because we were happy there. If your birthday came round you had a special do for your birthday. There was 33 in the ward I was in, which was an old block. There was C block that was built afterwards and that was small cubicles, but I was in this old-fashioned wooden block, 15 each side, and there was a treatment room and three single rooms in case anybody was dropping off.
I was very ill altogether. I didn’t get up for months on end. Couldn’t go anywhere. But of course the biggest treatment room, once you got away from the block, was up on what they called E block. Then you were put on a trolley, took a ride in the furniture till you got there, on a trolley. There was some treatment you did up on this block. They started off treatment on B block, but then as you got on to doing, having bigger treatment, or getting up more and walking – getting you back to doing things for yourself really.
Our mum was worried that I wasn’t married but I’m afraid TB got in the way. I did have reason to tell a certain young man that I’d had TB and that ended that. And whether it would today or not, I don’t know. But all these years back… It used to be called consumption didn’t it? And it consumes, so I suppose it’s a good name for it. You can call it being lucky xxx(drug name) came on the scene, ready for me. I didn’t like them injections but there you are. They must have cured me, and some horrible medicine 6 times a day. It was like cat’s wee with about 10 saccharines in it!. It was the most dreadful thing! Streptomisin (?) came on the scene at the time.
I was ill for 4 years but they kept in touch with the x-rays and things for longer than that. I don’t remember how long, it’s many years ago now. But I never had any cause to be looked at again.
I had the doctor in Dr. Middleton’s Road, it was Dr. Middleton. He was a right character. He was very good to me, though he was very naughty to start with because he didn’t get moving. And I think our mum threatened him in the end, you know, because he kept signing me off to work, and my mother knew I wasn’t the type who didn’t want to go to work. Cos I didn’t want to go. I didn’t feel well enough to go. So she went along and tore him off a strip! And he came back and examined me and said to our mum, ‘she’s ill’ and she said ‘what do you think she’s been trying to tell you for…?’
That doctor, mind you, he might have been worried hisself, you don’t know what he thought, when he knew what was wrong, but thereafter, sweets were on the ration but I was never without a sweet. But he couldn’t do enough afterwards. He realised, I suppose, it was his fault I got as poorly as I did. ‘Cos I could have been away from work a month earlier. Instead of that, I was giving it to everyone else. I know another supervisor at the time – she went down two years later, but that might have been a bit long for me to have given it to her, but you don’t know, do you?
Nancy Gardiner (born 1924)
We put in to have the children because I couldn’t have any. We had Stephen when we were at the bungalow. He was only a few weeks old. Then we were asked by the same adoption society if we would take a 2 week old girl. They weren’t supposed to give them for adoption until they were 6 weeks old but the mother’s father wouldn’t have her back until she had got rid of the baby, So we had her at 3 weeks. The twins were Barnardo’s boys. Someone came up from Barnardo’s and asked us to foster these twin boys to see how we got on. Like fools we must have said yes, for six months. They were difficult. They weren’t quite two when we had them but because they’d been in the home – everything was ‘and me’. They’d been fighting for their own selves you see.
Judith Newman (born 1943)
Dr. Middleton: He was scary. He was qualified as a surgeon apparently, very very good doctor, but he drank. He did end up in Gloucester jail for drink/driving and he was a very grumpy doctor, you didn’t go there very readily. I don’t remember ever going to his surgery, except once when I had tonsillitis. Once, when my sister got a little metal thing stuck in her finger, like a little fish hook, and on Sunday morning my mother knocked him up and he was in such a mood he just ripped it out of her finger. He was a difficult man. He kept on saying there was nothing wrong with my father, just indigestion you know, he just scoffed, and my father ended up with peritonitis. So he wasn’t my favourite doctor. There was a surgery where his house was, a double fronted villa, it was called first ‘Zenu’ and later ‘Zetu’. That was his surgery. I may have gone in there, I don’t remember.
There was Dr. Crouch, but he was in Eastcombe, we never had him. We didn’t use doctors a great deal, tried not to. Inoculations were done at school, we used to have a school doctor, school dentist, school nurse. Oh yes, I hated the school dentist. The school doctor, I don’t remember a lot about it but I had an aversion to taking my clothes off. We were a very modest family and we didn’t in those days. We didn’t talk about things like that. He only wanted to see my chest but I said ‘no’.
The Welfare for babies and mothers was held in the church rooms opposite St. John the Baptist Church.
Peter Clissold (born 1931)
Dr. Mutton was an interesting man………but he was a very gruff man, he didn’t have a bedside manner, but underneath was a very kind man. A lot of people in Eastcome and Bussage, he was their doctor; some of them were out of work and didn’t have any money at all, but he would still come and look at their children or whatever and never send them a bill. He’d come out any time of the day or night. He went on to be an army doctor.
Doctor Middleton from Chalford, he used to get bad bouts of malaria from his 10 years in Tanganyika, but he was an outstanding character. He used to play the bagpipes and sometimes he’d come into the surgery and he’d start playing the bagpipes and tell them that would do more good than all my medicine – in those bottles, peppermint water and all that stuff.
George Rowles (born 1928)
Brimscombe Basin: When the asbestos company at Fibrecrete was in there they dumped hundreds and hundreds of tons of asbestos waste in there, and it don’t do any harm, ‘cos I was in the building trade, if you cut it – it would; but if it lays out (and of course lots of properties in Brownshill and Chalford have got scores and scores of asbestos in it, lots of people had paths made with it, and then they gravelled over the top of it) as long as it’s down there it won’t do any damage – if you don’t cut it or the wind don’t blow it. But I knew lots of people who passed away in Fibrecrete. I knew somebody, their daughter died at 30 washing the clothes, that’s a long time ago now. They knew in 1937 (that it was dangerous) but they didn’t make it public to the people working. ‘Cos I was in the building trade and we had a couple of blokes died; it was pretty bad luck if you had it. ‘Cos, I knew a chap in Chalford, he used to do asbestos roofing, you know, that’s all he did, him and his friend/partner then, they went and done big factories you know, the Honda factory in Swindon and all. But they had one chap that come once, twice a year when they had a holiday; he was saving up, I mean he caught the asbestos, and these people that worked 50 weeks of the year, had just two off, he just went a fortnight in the year and he caught it. I don’t know why that is, but it’s 50 years incubation period for it.
(After the war) the National Health came in, and the Social Services came in, ‘cos then the soldiers realised that they were having a raw deal before. ‘Cos when I was young nobody ever went to the Doctors. I heard my father paid the doctor five pounds, and he only earned two pounds, just two pounds a week he earned. That’s why I never went.
I worked in the Stroud hospital in 1945, the last year of the war. Now then I’ll tell you, describe it like, if you saw the hospital like out in Africa now, that was the standard of Stroud Hospital. And we went to wash all the walls then because they were so dirty, and Mr. Saul, he lived in Chalford, I went with him. And I always remember I started washing the walls down the wrong way, and I can remember the dirt coming down the wall. And he said now you’ve got to start, and he showed me what way to start, and we washed everything from the operating theatre to the wards you know. It was still a private hospital you must remember, so you had to qualify for it. And Mrs Turner used to come round every Friday and for every pound you earned, our father earned, you paid a penny. So my father paid tuppence a week, cos he’s earned two pound, to the hospital and you were qualified to go into the hospital.
It was sad to have to go in there. Remember it was a private hospital and I always remember, I’ll tell you a personal, private story now, my mother went, she had pneumonia quite often and she went to this hospital quite regular with pneumonia. And I’d go up to see her and she’d say, ‘Oh this is lovely here, they’ve put me in here’. There was a private ward in those days, a couple of private wards, you know what they kept separate for people that had a bit of money. And she goes to me ‘I’m in here now George’ and I says ‘yer’. Well, when she came out, that’s what she tell me, little did she know that she was put in there ‘cos she snored too much!
I looked after my next door neighbours, Anne and Peggy. Peggy I looked after long time. She had carers, quite a reasonable income you know, so they didn’t go into a home. The nurses looked after them in their home; and I did that, and I used to do the garden…
Monica Ridge (born 1943)
At Springfield was all spring water and it came from over on the hill there, and we used to have to go up and make sure that the leaves didn’t block it. There’s a big tank there where the water would come in and pipes would come down and feed the house. The tank is still there but they are on mains now. And apparently years and years ago, people from far and wide used to go here and bathe their eyes in the water to help cure blindness. Like another spring on the left going towards Baker’s Mill, where water is exceptionally good for eyes because of the high iron content.
Sevilles Mill: Mr. Cook used the old factory for his embroidery frame business, but to be fair the factory was probably in pretty poor condition by that time (when Pete Blackwell bought it in about 1982/3/4?) So what he did, he pulled it all down and dumped it in the mill pond………I think what happened was, he didn’t have quite enough stuff to fill it up, so they topped it up with asbestos! I mean, you know there’s plenty of asbestos in Chalford….There is hundreds of tons of asbestos, broken asbestos from Fibrecrete. And they were always looking for somewhere to dump it. They used to give you free broken asbestos for your driveway, no problem at all, they did it for loads of people who got broken asbestos all down their driveway. And every time you drove over it a little cloud of dust would come up…
There are different sorts; blue is much worse than white. When I moved to Anchor Terrace (1970) there was an old, you know, chandler sink and it had a draining board that you fitted on it, made from asbestos. Purpose made it clipped on the side and whole walls, of whole houses, all the interior walls were lined with asbestos. There were thousands of tons of it in Chalford everywhere, and people worked there…I wouldn’t say it’s a good thing to breathe but it clearly isn’t as lethal as it’s made out to be.