FHSC Historical Society

The University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care (FHSC) Historical Society aims to unite individuals with an interest in medicine, nursing, midwifery and social work across the University and the wider community. The Society meets regularly for a range of talks and discussion and anyone with an interest in health and social care or social history is welcome to attend. The Society also has its own museum with curiosities from medicine, nursing, social work and midwifery, together with the First World War: Returning Home exhibition.

 2017 Programme

  • Wednesday, 5 April, 1-4pm - Riverside Museum Opening
  • Wednesday, 5 April, 4pm - Dame Betty Kershaw, Professor Emeritus, University of Sheffield, Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing (and former President), 'The Northern Powerhouse': Cotton Town Nurses who Shaped the Profession
  • Wednesday, 3 May, 1-4pm - Riverside Museum Opening
  • Wednesday, 3 May, 4pm - Sarah Matthews, Senior Lecturer, Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Staff Tutor, School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, Open University in the North West, Mental Health Social Work: Its Social, Legal and Psychiatric Character
  • Wednesday, 7 June, 1-4pm - Riverside Museum Opening
  • Wednesday, 5 July, 1-4pm - Riverside Museum Opening
  • Wednesday, 2 August, 1-4pm - Riverside Opening
  • Wednesday, 6 September, 1-4pm - Riverside Opening
  • Wednesday, 4 October, 1-4pm - Riverside Opening
  • Wednesday, 1 November, 1-4pm - Riverside Opening
  • Wednesday, 1 November, 4pm - Professor Christine Hallett, University of Manchester, Nurses of Passchendaele
  • Wednesday, 6 December, 1-4pm - Riverside Opening

Videos of recent talks are available to view via our FHSC Historical Society Past Events page


Details of other speakers and museum opening dates will be posted here as soon as they have been confirmed. We also welcome those who are interested in becoming a volunteer and please contact Roger Whiteley.

* These dates may be subject to change and please check this site for updates. There is no car parking available at the Riverside Campus (formerly County Hall) and access to the lecture rooms is through the main entrance, opposite the River Dee. The address is: University of Chester, Riverside Campus, Castle Drive, Chester CH1 1SL.

Sandy Campbell, GP

Volunteers at the Riverside Museum and the Historical Society are mourning the loss of a great friend of the museum. Dr Sandy Campbell, for many years a GP in Tarporley, Cheshire, died on 27 January 2016 at the Countess of Chester Hospital, Chester. He was 81, and had been ill for some time.

The Riverside Museum, run by the Historical Society, has greatly benefited from the generosity of Dr Campbell and his family. Dr Campbell, the son of a doctor and father of another, had inherited and bought many medical and surgical items dating back to when a country physician was expected to carry out minor operations. Indeed, for a time he worked as an anaesthetist for his father when he was carrying out operations at the Tarporley Cottage Hospital. Aware that these artefacts summed up a way of life now lost, he was pleased to be able to donate a selection of them to the Riverside Museum, along with a history of the family’s practice.

Dr Campbell’s items have been included in the museum’s permanent display and also in its Returning Home exhibition. Tying in with the centenary of the First World War, this recreates the experience of an invalided soldier returning to his native Cheshire village, and demonstrates changes in medicine and nursing, social care and the role of women brought about by the conflict. The exhibition recreates a country doctor’s surgery based on the one at Tarporley, and features a specially commissioned portrait (based on photographs) of Dr Campbell’s father sitting at his surgery desk. In October 2015 Dr Campbell visited the museum along with his wife Helen and daughter Alison, and expressed a mixture of pleasure and bemusement, not least as the face in the portrait was his!

Professor Elizabeth Mason-Whitehead, from the Historical Society, said: ‘Dr Campbell donated many items to the museum from his family practice, and to our (and his) great pleasure, he and his wife and daughter were able to visit the museum to see how we had incorporated and displayed them for our visitors. These artefacts are of historical importance, allowing us to understand our respective professions in a more meaningful way.’

In January 2013, Dr Campbell also shared his Reminiscences of a GP working in a Cheshire country practice with members of the Historical Society.

Dr Campbell joined his father’s established and growing rural practice at a time when GPs were regarded as major figures in the community. Though he acknowledged that times had changed, he regretted the passing of the automatic respect granted to him and his colleagues, but never lost the feeling that it was a tremendous privilege to be allowed into the lives of people at their most vulnerable and intimate moments. 

Message to all volunteers, speakers, supporters and visitors 

2015 has been another successful year for the Faculty of Health and Social Care Historical Society with a variety of fascinating speakers and more visitors than ever to the FHSC Riverside Museum, including community groups of all kinds, tourists, conference delegates and students.

None of this activity would be possible without the constant support of the University, the community and the dedicated band of volunteers. We are immensely grateful to all who have helped with the development of the Society and Museum from its foundation in 2008 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS, to its established status today.

A big thank you to our invited speakers in 2015 who gave us insights into a range of interesting topics: Dr Jane Brooks, University of Manchester (nursing the liberated inmates of Bergen-Belsen); Dr Stuart Wildman (nursing on the home front in the First World War); Dr Janette Allotey, University of Manchester (the history of midwifery); Dr Christine Hallett, University of Manchester (lecture on Edith Cavell on the 100th anniversary of her death); Alison and Keiron Spires (Nursing in the Boer War); and Professor Linda de Cossart (women in surgery). We are so fortunate to benefit from their extensive knowledge and experience.

We look forward to another exciting year in 2016 and always welcome anyone who would like to come along to listen to the free talks, visit the Museum or get more involved with the FHSC Historical Society and the Riverside Museum in any way. Please contact Roger Whiteley (r.whiteley@chester.ac.uk or 01244 511619) if you would like find out more.

The FHSC Historical Society and the Riverside Museum

The FHSC Historical Society has gathered a selection of curiosities from the world of medicine, nursing, midwifery and social work for display in the Riverside Museum at the University of Chester. The everyday and unusual objects from these fields of study and practice forms a permanent collection based at the Riverside Campus.

Society members Stan Murphy and Colin Jones brought the majority of the collection from the former Deva Hospital to its new home at the institution and have been the driving force behind the development of the collection since then, inspiring volunteers with their infectious dedication and enthusiasm. Dr Lisa Peters and Ian McKay from Learning and Information Systems, both librarians with expertise in museum development, have ensured that the collection was developed according to museum protocol and their support has been invaluable. They, and other volunteers, including Anne Naylor, Claire Chatterton, Professor Dorothy Marriss and Penny Davies were thanked by the University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Wheeler at a private launch for their efforts. The collection will also provide a forum for teaching and research and there are plans for themed exhibitions to take place. It is also continuing to grow and develop with generous donations from Chester and further afield.

The collection was originally set up in the University’s Westminster Building before being transferred to Riverside. Barbara Holliday, in the Faculty of Health and Social Care’s administration team, Professor Mike Thomas and Professor Elizabeth Mason Whitehead developed the Historical Society to bring together interested parties, originally from across the University, to become involved with the collection.

Professor Mason Whitehead said: "The Society would like to expand its membership to include the community and enable the collection to be used for research and learning. We will be looking to do this throughout the year as well as inviting guest speakers to our meetings. Particular thanks should go to Barbara for her hard work – she has been integral in enabling the collection to become established within the Faculty.

"We are interested in hearing from anyone who would like to get involved in the Society – not just those from a health background."

Dr Emma Rees, Senior Lecturer in the English Department who has been involved in the Historical Society since its inception, said: "The opening of the collection marks the culmination of years of hard work by Society members. The project has brought together individuals not only from different Faculties in the University but from the wider Chester community too."

One of the highlights of the collection is a letter penned by Florence Nightingale to a sister grieving for news of her brother missing in action in the Crimea. More than 150 years after it was written, the autographed, four-sided letter was recently purchased by the University.

Professor Tim Wheeler, Vice-Chancellor of the University said: "The project has been entirely reliant on the goodwill of donors, volunteers and those with an interest in the subject. I would like to thank everyone involved for the huge efforts involved."

Anyone interested in joining the Historical Society or for more information about the collection should contact Roger Whiteley: r.whiteley@chester.ac.uk, 01244 513169.

Some of the previous talks are available to view in the Society's online archive.