Old Nurses' Home
Old Nurses’ Home
The Old Nurses home is one of the first buildings to be demolished as part of our Hospitals of the Future programme.
Prior to the creation of the first home in 1879, nurses at Leeds General Infirmary usually lived in a room above each of the wards which was not really suitable for them, particularly as increasing numbers of nurses needed accommodation.
The first nurses home was expanded in 1895 and again in 1898 to accommodate more nurses. The current building, due to be demolished soon, was opened by the Princess Royal in October 1937 and was able to take up to 250 nurses. It is made up of a number of buildings that sweep alongside old A&E Drive opposite the current Martin Wing. It retains many of the original corridors, staircases and rooms.
Prior to demolition we have been capturing some of the stories from those former nurses who stayed in the nurses’ home with some of them visiting the old building which brought back happy memories of their nurse-training in Leeds. Some of their memories are captured here in this video: https://youtu.be/k5cbcKljn4s
For many the Nurses Home was a "home from home" while for others it was the first time they had moved away from their parents' care and found life in the big city daunting.
As part of their training nurses had to stay in the nurses home for a minimum of two years under the care of the matrons who made sure that they were well looked after and obeyed the strict rules of the house.
The matrons were like alternative parents and in some cases running the rule over potential suitors - and even giving permission for a nurse to become engaged.
Pat Taylor (left) is President of the Nurses League and she recalls her time in the nurses home between 1961 to 64. She said: "It was a little like being in a boarding school but we made life-long friends – many we still see to this day."
"I also remember there being a “Beau's Parlour” a room for boyfriends to visit - as long as the door was left open of course."
Jeanne Cooper (below) began her nurse training in 1947 before the NHS came into being when she was just 17. She stayed in the nurses home until 1951 before going on to become a staff nurse and then a sister in medical outpatients.
"It was all very formal and you were not allowed to call eachother by your first name on the wards – and you rarely mixed with other nursing “sets”, although we were all friendly with eachother," said Jeanne.
In those days the nurses had a chart given to them at the start of their nursing training and had to tick off all the sections as they were achieved. It had everything from injections, dressings and feeding patients.
After completing their training they went on a ward or department for three months where they were taught the practicalities of nursing