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Leavesden Hospital Histopry Association
Leavesden Hospital Histopry Association

The People

From its opening on October 1st 1870 to its closing in October of 1995 the Leavesden Asylum/Hospital and its associated facilities relied on a work force of from 240 Doctors, nurses, support staff and volunteers in 1870 to a staff of 3500 in the 1950s to give care to the thousands and thousands of inmates (term used from 1870 to 1932) patients ( term used from 1932 to 1950s) and residents (term used from 1950s to 1990s who passed through their doors in need of help during the 127 years of the facilities operation. Many of these individuals gave much of their time and energies to help improve the lives of so many who had so little. Their acts of caring were truly heroic.

These are just a few of them

 

A nurse trained in Canada and assigned to the Canadian Hospital on the south side of the site works in the operating theatre during WW2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Male attendants circa 1902 worked exclusively male wards. There uniforms were typical of the original military/prison atmosphere of the early days of the hospital.

 

 

Members of staff take a day trip to Margate in 1937.

Recognize anyone ?

 

Jack Denton, standing back row on the left, started his career as a male ward attendant in 1907 and retired in 1937 as the Chief Stewart.                                                 

Jack Denton in 1937 as he retired from the hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felicity Firth was a volunteer at the hospital during the 70’s and 80’s and visited patients at the hospital monthly.  She joined a group of other volunteers who came from Leavesden All Saints Church on Horseshoe Lane. She and the other volunteers worked in the female wards named Daffodil, Bluebell and Godetia.  

 

Felicity loved her time at the hospital and wrote this poem about her experiences there.

 

 

Going Home

“I’m going home tomorrow”. She said.

My Mum’s coming on the train.

She’s taking me home.”

“That’s nice. I answered.

“Have a nice trip.”

“Oh I won’t be coming back .” she clarified.

And into the surrounding mayhem

A pool of silence fell.

I knew she wouldn’t be going home.

 

Next time she showed me her ring.

“Do you like it? Isn’t it pretty?

We’re getting married soon.

He’s very good looking.”

“That’s good.” I said

“You must be happy.”

There was no fiancé

And the ring looked as if it came from a cracker.

But who was I to shatter her dreams.

 

It was always the same story

As the years slipped by.

Marriage and going home were never going to happen.

Then one visit she wasn’t there.

“What’s happened to Jean?” I asked a nurse.

“Oh she died dear.”

So I suppose she did go home.

Eventually.

 

 

Tony O'Reagan, a young volunteer at the hospital, greets Princess Alexandra as she visits in 1975

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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©Leavesden Hospital History Association and Martin Brooks