Faculty of Health and Social Care 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.

Over by Christmas by Theatre in the Quarter
Over by Christmas by Theatre in the Quarter

Message to all volunteers, speakers, supporters and visitors

As another year draws to a close, it is a good opportunity to look back at all that has been achieved by the FHSC Historical Society in 2014 and to look forward to a new programme of events in 2015.

The commemoration of the centenary since the outbreak of the First World War has given us an ideal opportunity to incorporate some of Dr Campbell’s collection into a temporary exhibition - The First World War: Returning Home which gives an insight into what an invalided soldier would have faced on his return home to Cheshire. This will run for the entire four-year period and it is hoped that the exhibition will continue to evolve as visitors and volunteers add their own knowledge about the period, together with objects and memories from family members. Thank you to everyone who has given their time, expertise, donations and loans to the exhibition and it would not have been possible without such a huge team effort across the community.

The exhibition preview event took place in September and the packed audience experienced Theatre in the Quarter’s ‘Over by Christmas’ production which was performed at railway stations across Cheshire, and at Manchester Piccadilly and St Pancras stations. This fantastic spectacle was the perfect way to set the scene for visitors to explore both the permanent and temporary museum rooms and thank you to Matt Baker and Theatre in the Quarter for fitting us into their busy schedule of events.

Around 500 people have visited the Riverside Museum in 2014 on a mixture of booked group visits, University Open Days, students on relevant courses, regular public opening hours, the exhibition preview event and Heritage Open Days. It is hoped that we can extend the visiting hours in the spring to include some Saturday mornings and any additional opening times will be posted on this page and in the events section of the University website: www.chester.ac.uk/events.

In conjunction with the First World War theme, we have welcomed some fascinating speakers who have helped us to understand the impact of the conflict on health and social care. On behalf of all the audience members, thank you to them all for taking the time out of their busy lives and travelling to Chester so that we could learn more. In April, Dick and Sara Appleton talked about their relative Edith Appleton’s diaries recounting her experiences of nursing close to the Front during the conflict.  In September, Katie Taylor from Dunham Massey Hall talked about the transformation of Dunham Massey into the Stamford Military Hospital and the stories they uncovered. Our own Historical Society member Dr Claire Chatterton (from the Open University in the North West) spoke about the issues of ‘shell shock’ and discussed the medical and nursing care that men suffering from mental health problems received. Finally in December, Professor Christine Hallett from the University of Manchester talked about the story of professional and volunteer nurses during the First World War and its contribution to the Allied cause on both the Western and Eastern Fronts.

All of this activity would not have been possible without the continued hard work and support from many within the University and across the wider community. We always welcome anyone who would like to get more involved with the FHSC Historical Society and the Riverside Museum in any way, so please contact Roger Whiteley (r.whiteley@chester.ac.uk if you would like find out more.

We are currently working on the programme for 2015 and details will be posted on the website pages (above).  We look forward to welcoming more people to the Historical Society events in 2015 and wish all of our volunteers, speakers, supporters and visitors a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

2015 Programme (details on talks will follow):

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.

The December speaker was Professor Christine Hallett who is Professor of Nursing History at the University of Manchester and Chair of the UK Association for the History of Nursing. She was founding Chair of the European Association for the History of Nursing and holds Fellowships of both the Royal Society of Medicine and the Royal Society for the Arts. Professor Hallett trained as a nurse and health visitor in the 1980s and practised as a community nurse before becoming a lecturer at the University of Manchester in 1993. Her most recent research has focussed on the work of nurses during the First World War, and she has authored several books on the subject, including Containing Trauma: Nursing Work in the First World War (Manchester University Press, 2009), First World War Nursing: New Perspectives (with Alison Fell; Routledge, 2013) and Veiled Warriors: Allied Nurses of the First World War (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Christine Hallett spoke about her book, Veiled Warriors, in which she traces the story of professional and volunteer nurses during the First World War.  Although allied nurses were admired in their own time for their altruism and courage, they came to be seen as self  sacrificing heroines, romantic foils to the male combatant, and doctors’ handmaidens, rather than being appreciated as trained professionals performing significant work in their own right.  Christine challenges these myths to reveal a different story of allied nursing in the First World War—one which is both more complex and more absorbing. Drawing upon evidence from archives across the world, Veiled Warriors focusses on nurses’ wartime experiences and discusses nurses' work and its contribution to the allied cause between 1914 and 1918, on both the Western and the Eastern Fronts. 

The first talk in the First World War Series was on the extraordinary life of Edith Appleton who nursed close to the Western Front in France for the whole of the First World War and received the Military OBE, the Royal Red Cross and the Belgian Queen Elisabeth medal for her dedication and bravery. More information on Edith Appleton.

The October speaker was Katie Taylor, House & Collections Manager at Dunham Massey who talked about how the house has been transformed into the Stamford Military Hospital and some of the rich stories they have found in the archives.

Dunham Massey was formerly the home of the Grey family, the Earls of Stamford, and is now managed by the National Trust. Dunham was transformed into a military hospital during the First World War and Lane Jane Grey, the daughter of the house, worked there as a VAD nurse. For this year and next, Dunham Massey is marking the centenary of the First World War by telling the story of the Stamford Hospital, the auxiliary hospital in which 282 soldiers were treated there between April 1917 and January 1919. The ward, soldiers’ recreation room and operating theatre have all been recreated and replace the grand interiors. There are fascinating exhibitions and hand on activities.  Actors in costume tell some of the stories of those who nursed, and were nursed, there using material from the extensive archives. She talked about all the hard work that has gone into this transformation, including the large army of volunteers who have helped with the meticulous research that underpins this project and who are welcoming the record number of visitors who have flocked to see the Stamford Military Hospital. 

The November speaker was Historical Society member Dr Claire Chatterton, Staff Tutor at the Open University in the North West. Psychological casualties first became apparent during the First World War in September 1914 during the retreat from Mons and the numbers of those affected rapidly grew. According to Stone (1985, 251) “with some notable exceptions, medical officers at the Front did not know what had hit them.” By the end of the war, over 80,000 men had received treatment for mental health problems. Popularly known as 'shellshock' there were a variety of symptoms that afflicted mentally traumatised men and the possible causes, diagnoses and treatment for their distress was to remain contentious.

This lecture explored these issues and discussed both the medical and nursing care that these men received. Famous medical men such as Myers, Rivers and Yealland are frequently discussed in accounts of the treatment of mental disorders such as shellshock, but much less is known about the nurses who assisted them and were expected to provide an environment which would promote and aid recovery.

The FHSC Historical Society and the Riverside Museum

The FHSC Historical Society has also 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.