FHSC Historical Society

The University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care (FHSC) Historical Society was founded in 2008 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. This exhibition has been refurbished with the generous help of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Heritage and we welcome visitors to see what a soldier would have encountered on his return from the Front to Cheshire. Part of this exhibition was displayed as a Home from the Front exhibition in the Coin Gallery at the Grosvenor Museum in Chester during November and December 2017. In our tenth anniversary year and the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS, we look forward to welcoming visitors from across the world to our free talks and  Museum.

Grosvenor Museum Pop-up Exhibition
Grosvenor Museum Pop-up Exhibition

 2018 Programme


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 if you would like to be involved.

* 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.

Background to 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.

Stan Murphy and Colin Jones rescued the nucleus of of the collection from the former Deva Hospital and brought it to the University. These objects were originally set up in the University’s Westminster Building before being transferred to the Riverside Campus when the Faculty of Health and Social care re-located. Barbara Holliday, in the Faculty of Health and Social Care’s administration team, Professor Mike Thomas and Professor Elizabeth Mason Whitehead then developed the Historical Society to bring together interested parties, originally from across the University and then across the community, to become involved with the collection.

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 purchased by the University and is now seen by visitors from across the globe.

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.

Sandy Campbell, GP

The University of Chester Riverside Museum, run by the Historical Society, has greatly benefited from the generosity of the late Dr Sandy Campbell and his family who was for many years a GP in Tarporley. 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.