Stannington Sanatorium Project.

In August 2013 Northumberland Archives was awarded a Research Resources in Medical History Award of £77,717 from The Wellcome Trust to catalogue and part digitise records of Stannington Sanatorium, the first purpose-built children’s TB sanatorium in the United Kingdom. The sanatorium was established at Stannington, ten miles north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, by The Poor Children’s Holiday Association (now Children North East) in 1907. It was able to achieve a very high success rate in prevention and cure of tuberculous in children by providing a combination of the latest medical equipment and techniques and providing patients with healthy food, fresh air and exercise. In 1947 the sanatorium formed part of the new National Health Service and continued to treat tuberculous patients until the mass availability of effective antibiotic therapies at which point the sanatorium began to be used as a general children’s hospital. Stannington Children’s Hospital closed in 1984.

In the same year 120 linear feet of records of the Sanatorium were deposited with Northumberland Archives. The bulk of these records are patient records but included in the deposit were c.15,000 radiographic plates for the period 1937-1952. We believe the radiographs to be unique and an important part of our project was to digitise these. The records have been little used since deposit and one of our project aims was to promote the collection, particularly within the academic community.

In 2015 we were awarded a further grant by the Wellcome Trust for a second phase. This allowed us to repackage and fully digitise the Stannington Sanatorium patient files and make selected redacted pages from each one publicly accessible via our online catalogue. We set up the project blog to tell you about the work that was undertaken within the project and reveal some of the fascinating stories that we discovered about the important work that was undertaken at the sanatorium.

As a result of the first phase of the project an online exhibition was produced which tells the story of the sanatorium; it can be viewed by clicking here.

The records we hold relating to the sanatorium can be found by searching our online catalogue. Flickr sets of images digitised during the first phase of the project and redacted examples of complete patient case files can be viewed here.

We have also an exhibition of banner stands, which has toured venues, including a local church and libraries, across Northumberland, and is available for loan.

You can see the project’s blog posts here.

If you would like more information contact us at archives@northumberland.gov.uk

50 comments

  1. Julian Kemp says:

    Hi
    I have been researching Didworthy Sanatorium, on the edge of Dartmoor. This was mainly an adult sanatorium, but there was also a children ward.

    I have produced a film about life in the Sanatorium, with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund. A preview can be viewed here – http://youtu.be/Ku1KbzFXDWk

    More info, and pictures, on my FaceBook page

  2. Anon says:

    A comment on the BBC News reporting of this yesterday piqued my interest – “The staff made a lot of effort to keep them [the children] happy.” An elderly relative of mine spent the majority of her childhood at Stannington and I have to stress that couldn’t be further from her experience. Many of the staff were allegedly incredibly cruel. Whilst I appreciate it is a totally different age, a number of stories I have head over the years are shocking. Incidentally, the nicest people she encountered there were actually German prisoners of war, who were very kind and made a big effort with the children.

    • Stannington Sanatorium Project says:

      Thanks for your comments, I’m sorry to hear this about your relative. The comments made in the BBC report were based largely on the reminiscences of the participants in a recent oral history project run by the archive where we found the vast majority had pleasant memories, but we do appreciate that the experience will unfortunately not have been the same for everyone. Although I do recall some of the oral history participants also commenting on the friendliness of the prisoners of war.
      Many thanks
      Stannington Sanatorium Project

  3. My mother was taken to Stannington around the age of 11 years with TB from West Hartlepool as it was then

    She was in the hospital for quiet some time but was one if the lucky ones who survived.

    As children she would often recollect her time in the hospital especially sad at those who did not leave alive.

    Her name was Edna Mary Daley not sure if she is in these records as it would be around the early 1930s

    • Stannington Sanatorium Project says:

      Hi Michael
      Our patient records don’t start until the late 1930s, around 1938/9, so it’s doubtful that we would have your mother’s records. She may pop up in some of the patient indexes we have that will cover this slightly earlier period. However, given that they are personal medical records that are less than 100 years old I can’t give any additional information here and if you want to pursue your query any further you’ll have to contact the archive directly on collections@woodhorn.org.uk.
      Hope this helps, all the best
      Stannington Sanatorium Project

  4. Helen Latty says:

    Hi, My mother was at Stannington from sometime in the mid-late 1940s, possibly from around 1947/8. I was wondering if there was any way that I would be able to see her records if they are available. Sadly my mother passed away in 2013 and her time in Stannington were not something that she spoke of very often but it is something that I wish I had found out more about from her when she was alive. Her name then was Brenda Douglas(S.
    Any of all information that you can give me about gaining access to the records would be gratefully received.
    Many thanks
    H Latty

    • Stannington Sanatorium Project says:

      Hi Helen,
      Unfortunately due to the nature of the records, we are unable to respond to your request online. Please contact the archives directly at collections@woodhorn.org.uk and a member of our research team will be happy to help.
      Many Thanks
      Stannington Sanatorium Project

  5. Peter Yardley says:

    I was in Stannington for 1 year (1965-66). Although it was awful being away from home I still have fond memories of the hospital and school. The Headmaster (Mr Jones)and Mrs Greenhalgh are 2 of the staff I remember from the school. The nurses were all great (except one staff nurse whose name I can’t remember) especially Nurse Dobson (possible early crush). I had bad asthma as did a lot of the children there but ailments seemed to be wide ranging from excema, asthma, epilepsy and many more.

    • Stannington Sanatorium Project says:

      Hi Peter, thanks for your comments. We hold patient records up until 1966 so we may possibly have yours too, if you would be interested in seeing your old records if you contact the archive directly at collections@woodhorn.org.uk we will be able to help. We also have other records you might enjoy looking at, such as the school log books which were essentially diaries kept by the headteacher and recount some of the more general goings on at the school.
      All the best
      Stannington Sanatorium Project

    • HAZEL THOMAS says:

      I was in Stannington for a year when I was 4 – 1963 -1964 approx. I have phenomenally good memories of one fine nurse – I knew of her only as Nurse Bell. So kind to me. Wish I could track her. I had horrible asthma and bronchitis and was bedridden a lot of the time. I remember not being allowed to go to the school because it would trigger an attack so they pushed me out on to the veranda in my bed many times. Lonely! My name at that time was Hazel Thompson.

  6. melvyn hall says:

    Hi, my date of birth is 02/04/1948 and I was diagnosed with a tuberculous abscess in my right ankle at about the age to 2o months and admitted to ‘Stannington just before my second birthday. I remained there until just after my 4th birthday. I have a few photographs of myself whilst an inpatient. I would love to be able to have some information from my medical records of that time if they are still available. Thanks

    • Stannington Sanatorium Project says:

      Hi Melvyn, we hold records for Stannington Sanatorium up to 1966 so it’s possible we have your records too, if you are interested in accessing these you can contact the archives directly through collections@woodhorn.org.uk and someone will be able to look into this for you.
      Thank you for showing your interest in the project and keep reading!
      Stannington Sanatorium Project

    • Vick hill says:

      Hi if you have any information as my partners nana was there at roughly the same time as you here name is olive may brew if you know her or if anyone knows how to get information could you please help many thanks Vicky . Vickihill1979@icloud.com

      • Northumberland Archives says:

        Hi Vicky,
        Thanks for your comment.
        As part of our collection of former patient files it looks like we may have a file relating to your relative. If you would like more information regarding access to her file you can get in touch with us via email at collections@woodhorn.org.uk
        Many Thanks,
        The Stannington Sanatorium Project team

    • David Rose says:

      Love to see your photographs, Melvyn. Check-out our Facebook page, Friends of Stannington Children’s Hospital and School

  7. I was in Stannington hospital between October 10th 1966 until September 10th 1967 and I can remember a lot of the staff notably Sister Taylor. Staff Nurse Farrier, Nurse Dixon, Nurse Clark and a few more. I can also remember a lot of my fellow patients from that time.I can recall a lot of the staff were very stern and sometimes could be cruel but under the circumstances my time in there wasn’t too bad.
    Thanks

    • Stannington Sanatorium Project says:

      Hi Tony,
      Thanks for your comments. We do hold patient records up until 1966, if you wish to enquire further about your own time in Stannington you can contact Northumberland Archives directly at collections@woodhorn.org.uk. Its lovely to here so many stories from the different periods of Stannington’s life.

  8. Ronald James Owens says:

    I was a patient at stannington between the years 1954/1959. My abiding memory of that time was of the cold and harsh attitude of the staff whom I came into contact with. Indeed violence , bullying and negligence was also part of my experience, particularly from male members of the staff regime. I spent a lot of my time in that place being fearful. Also frequent bullying amongst boys on the ward , due in my opinion to a lack of adeqate care and supervision from the “nursing” staff.

    • Sulie Elli says:

      I think my Great Uncle Joseph Arnold Stobbs may have worked as a Doctor at Stannington Childrens Hospital in 1959.

      • Northumberland Archives says:

        Hi Sulie Elli, Dr Stobbs was the Medical Superintendant at Stannington and he is often mentioned in the patient files, oral history recordings and we have some of his research notes in the collection. We also have a photograph which includes Dr Stobbs, which should come up on our online database. If you visit http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/catalogue/ and type in the reference ‘NRO 10201’ it should bring up the picture. Alternatively contact us on collections@woodhorn.org.uk. The Medical Directory gave details of medical practitioners from 1845, and you might be able to find details of your ancestor with the Royal College of Surgeons or Royal College of Physicians. Thanks for your comment, the Stannington sanatorium Project team.

        • sulie elli says:

          Thank you for the reply. Yes,that’s Great Uncle Arnold on the photograph you mentioned.I recognise him from one of the few family photographs we have. He was born in Weardale and was the youngest of 5 children. His father Wiliam Stobbs was the Headmaster of St Johns Chapel School around 1910-1920, but his Grandfather was a lead miner.I believe Arnold practiced as a Doctor in Allendale and his wife was a district nurse. I believe he may also have worked at Earls house sanitorium in the early 1940s.

  9. Laurie lees says:

    Hi, my grandma was in the sanatorium when she was about 11 or 13 so that would have been 1941-43. She has really fond memories of the place and made some good friends! She said she was sad to go and leave them! She had been telling me a lot of stories tonight about it and I decided to search for any pictures or info to show her and we came across this website! Is there any more details or history you could email me about the hospital as I think my gran would really love that!
    Thank you

    • Northumberland Archives says:

      Hi Laura, it’s lovely to hear that your grandmother has such fond memories of the sanatorium. We have uncovered a lot of information through the Stannington Sanatorium Project on this history of the hospital and also the treatment of tuberculosis. Currently we have a series of pop up banners relating to Stannington on display at our sister site Hexham Old Gaol, these are on display until the end of September and plans are in place for them to go on display elsewhere following this (this will be announced through our Facebook Page). Alternatively you can register your enquiry with our Archives team at collections@woodhorn.org.uk and someone will get back to you.
      Thank you for reading!

  10. michael says:

    hello, ive just found this website and I was in stannington in 1955/56 memories are a bit vague bur one nurse who made you eat by force spoon feeding comes back to me , also the school mistress was bit of a bully, i remember when leaving i wasn’t allowed to take any of my things home like Christmas presents or gifts of toys etc, fond memories though of Christmas time with Dickie valentine as Santa Claus.

  11. Kenneth Barron says:

    I was a patient at stannigton from 1958 to 1964 along with my brother my name is Kenneth Barron my brothers name was Donald no longer with us bless him I’m 63 now but still remember my time there we were in ward 5 together though I was only six and my Brother was 12 they cephalopod us together I have one or two photoes from then would love to see other photos from them times

    • Northumberland Archives says:

      Thank you for getting in touch Ken, you can see a number other photographs of Stannington on our online exhibition (which can be found at http://stannington.woodhornexhibitions.com/index.html) and our Flickr set. We are also hoping to develop another Flickr set of some of our other photographs of Stannington some time in the future. If you are interested in seeing these and what else we have please contact us at collections@woodhorn.org.uk. We would love to see the images you have, and if you would like us to we could copy them for the collection. Thanks again for your comment, The Stannington Sanatorium Project team.

    • Ian Peter Bell says:

      Kenneth,sorry to hear that Donald has passed away,he was a great lad.I was in ward 5 in 1961 with him, while you were in ward 4.I am in a group called Friends of Stannington Childrens Hospital & School,where iv’e posted a number of photos with Donald on them.My latest post is a photo of the giant Easter Egg on Ward 4 I think you are in the next bed to it. Hope you check it out.

      • Northumberland Archives says:

        Thank you for your comment Ian. Over the course of our project we have been borrowing and digitising photographs from former patients for our collection, and would be keen to see yours also; if you are interested please drop us an email.

        Northumberland Archives aren’t affiliated with this or other outside groups.

  12. Fred C says:

    I spent 6 months on ward 5 at Stannington Children’s Hospital in the mid sixties and have mixed memories of that time. My home was 40 miles away and visitors were only allowed on Sundays (and one Saturday each month) so homesickness was the first hurdle. The staff were great, especially charge nurse Jim Rudd who sadly passed away recently, although one male charge nurse was not suited to the job. The school was very informal and I’m not sure how much I learnt there, but the teachers and head master were pleasant enough. Evenings and free time playing football, in a fashion, on the field by the boiler house were enjoyable; and the Youth Club led by Mr Hill kept us occupied at times. We also had film nights on the ward occasionally. Three square meals a day and a fixed routine were orders of the day. My diagnosis was School Phobia which still makes me laugh because I mostly enjoyed school. Anyway; alongside children with severe asthma, excema, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis and other physical ailments I admired the way that they just got on with their lives; and no one was made to feel different by children or staff alike. I’m sure my time at Stannington stood me in good stead for later life because soon after leaving at the age of 15 I enrolled and did well at college, got a secure job within a year, and in later years worked as a School Buildings Officer – quite ironical in view of my diagnosis.

    • Daniel Whitehead says:

      Hi..Fred….Not sure if we were in ward 5 at same time… but must have been close ( 1965 – 1967 ) for me, And I agree Mr Rudd was a terrifick nurse! I had chest illness & had lot’s of physio from Mrs Wheeler .. a lovely woman. I have mixed memories of my time in Stannington.. mostly good though and made lotsa friends, Though was sad when shortly after I left I bumped into Phillip Cheels at St James ( v Spurs )who informed me that his brother Bobby had died. I am now retired after a great time in Electronics.

  13. Denise Cain says:

    I remember Stannington well and spent 9months in the children’s hospital as a patient with severe Asthma in 1965. I went in a weakling at 3st 6lb and came out 5st 2lb! I remember clearly the number of beds in the main ward, the nurses & our kind “Sister Gutteridge”. Physical exercise was a daily routine in the wards, and I also went to school. Our summer nights and weekends spent playing out in the gardens and lawns, having our very own “den” right at the bottom, where we played out our parts as fairies, “cloudberry” I remember in particular. My Dad visited me every Wednesday riding a moped from Ashington, and with my Mam every other week on a Saturday on the bus as I had a brother and sister at home. I remember clearly how many children were so poorly they had to stay in bed and were wheeled out onto the veranda, and took in the sunshine thro the glass roof.I will be 60 this year and would have loved to revisit Stannington. Sadly I am told this is not possible and the hospital has now been demolished? ..reportedly due to asbestos in the celings, how ironic being a tuberculosis hospital. Fond memories as a child.

    • Northumberland Archives says:

      Thank you for getting in touch Denise. Though you may not be able to visit the Sanatorium you may like to take a look at our online exhibition. If you follow this link http://stannington.woodhornexhibitions.com/index.html and click ‘Tour Stannington’ it will bring you to an image of the Sanatorium with the different areas labelled. When you click on each of these you can explore information about the area, patients and staff, and lots of photographs. Thanks again for your comment, the Stannington Sanatorium Project Team.

  14. Ronald James Owens says:

    Thank you Sulie Elli, for i think you have rekindled my memory, regarding Dr Stobbs. The name certainly rings a bell, and if i’m recalling correctly, he was one of the more kindly persons that I met while a patient at Stannington. Question…..Did Dr. Stobbs have a military background. ? I ask because I have a curious recollection of him showing me a type of peaked cap that had the appearance of an officers headgear pertaining to the army. Can anyone confirm this, as this would assure me that I’m on the right track.

    • sulie elli says:

      Hello Ronald, I’m sorry I’ve been late to see your post here.Uncle Uncle Arnold was too young to serve in WW1, but he may have served in WW2.I will have to check. His eldest brother, Harry (Henry) served with the DLI (Private up to Sergeant) and then as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Northumberland Fusiliers. Sadly he was killed at Passchendaele in 1917 aged 26. My Dad is named after his Uncle Harry.We have Uncle Harry’s widows penny, but not his medals so it may be that other family members got other items. After the death of their father the family drifted apart a little.

  15. Hi I was in Stannington Children’s Hospital from 1961 to 1964. I have just been informed that an x-ray shows asbestos in my lungs. Only place I can think of where I may have breathed it in was the hospital. Has any other former patient or staff been so diagnosed or died as a result of asbestos? I remember the lads pulling up the covers on the heated pipes outside our ward 5 to look for rats (often with success) and imagine that asbestos may have been present there as lagging. We also would climb into the loft space to get away from the staff. Is there any way I can get official information on the asbestos used and whereabouts?

  16. Maureen Killen says:

    Hello, I was a patient with TB in 1957 when I was 14 and was in Stannington for one year. I only have great memories of my time there, apart from daily injections!! The staff were kind and took our practical jokes on them with good nature. I remember Dr Stobbs, Sister Taylor and her husband who was the Porter called George, Sister Barbrook, Nurse Barkiss, Nurse Dobson, oh too many to mention. When I first went I was in Long Ward, but when the decorators moved in the girls were moved to Brough Ward where the very young children were treated. The Pantomime came from the Theatre Royal, we were all given Easter Eggs at Easter, Sports Day was held with the Medical Staff joining in the races and we children dressed in fancy dress and won prizes. I remember Ivy won in the girls section and she was dressed as a tramp.
    The staff were always extremely kind, although they could be strict but never cruel. The highlight of a Saturday evening was the 6.5 Special on TV, which considering we did not have TV at home was wonderful. Visiting was one hour on a Wednesday evening – so nobody got visitors as the bus service was scarce and cars even scarcer! Sunday visiting was 2 hours in the afternoon after our rest time after lunch, so it must have been at 2 p.m.

    • Caroline Murphy says:

      HI Maureen,
      Long shot but my uncle was there in 1957 too, I have photos of him as a blonde child, dressed as a pirate for the fancy dress!
      Not sure how many of you were there, but would there be a chance you might remember him?

      • Northumberland Archives says:

        Thanks for your comment Caroline,

        We have a film which was recorded at the Sanatorium’s jubilee celebrations in 1957 which includes scenes of the children in fancy dress. This is part of our online exhibition about the sanatorium and can be found at http://stannington.woodhornexhibitions.com/tour/outside_video.html. We are hoping to look at the film and the events surrounding it in more detail in blog post in the future.

        You might also like to post on our Facebook page here where you may get a better response to your question.

  17. Dominic Purdue says:

    I was a patient at Stannington Childrens Hospital in 1961-1962. My sisters Antoinette and Dorothy were there at the same time (Dorothy was a toddler, I was 9 or 10 and Antoinette was 12 or 13) I have very fond memories of Stannington, and some sad memories too. I remember daring to ask a girl of about 16 or so if she would be my girlfriend. She said yes (I was 9 or 10 and she was just being nice to me) but she died soon afterwards. We had Tuberculosis, but she had Leukemia. I had a friend who had Polio and was completely bed ridden. He had a transistor radio and we would listen to it at night. It was easy to get out of going to school! I used to say I felt unwell, and would be allowed to miss classes that day! We would go out on nature rambles in a big group sometimes which was great. I loved it there, but missed being at home. My mother would visit on Sundays, and after a while she was allowed to come on Wednesday evenings too.

  18. Catherine Hurley (nee Eckford) says:

    How lovely to find this page. I thought that all memory of Stannington Children’s Hospital had disappeared along with the buildings when they were demolished. I lived there in one of the ‘tied houses’, two semi detached bungalows which is now one house, from approx 1965 until 1970/71 when we moved away to Croydon (of all places!). My dad, Cameron Eckford (now very sadly deceased) was the hospital engineer at Stannington and my mum, Julia Eckford (still living) was a ward sister. This was the period when the hospital was a centre for paediatric hip dyplasia and a lot of the kids were in frog plasters. My brother and I spent many happy years playing with children patients, using the play ground equipment and wandering around the extensive grounds. Our friends were the kids that lived in the other tied houses whose parents were also employed at the hospital.
    I remember Mrs Chicken, who I think was a school teacher, who took us on nature rambles, amongst other things. We were bused to school in Stannington village, where the school still stands and looks to be thriving – although much smaller than I remember it!

  19. So excited to see your site which I came across quite randomly. My mother who sadly is now deceased often talked of her time at Stannington Sanatorium. She was there for around 6months in the early 1930s as she was treated for TB. She had many stories of her time there, on one occasion she ran away with another patient!!!! She went back once in the 80s to visit, but it was derelict. Now that my mums died I feel a strong attachment to herearly life & am desperate to learn more. Do you have any records of her. Her name was IRENE WILSON, from Backworth, Tyne & Wear. Her DOB was 17th MAY 1926. Mum & I moved to Devon in 1994, but returned to the North East ad much as possible.

    • Northumberland Archives says:

      Hi Maureen,

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately there are no patient files for this period, however there is a possibility that there may be a record card. However, the cards only provide minimal information and not a detailed account of a patient’s stay in hospital. If you would still like to pursue this please contact us at collections@woodhorn.org.uk

      Many thanks, the Stannington Sanatorium Project team.

  20. andrea thompson says:

    Hi I have a relative listed in a census in 1901 as being an ‘inmate’ at stannington st Marys. The institutions I can find around this time are the asylum, the sanitorium, and ‘Phillipsons colony’. Is there anyway I could identify which one it may have been?

    • Northumberland Archives says:

      Hi Andrea,

      Stannington St Mary’s was the County Asylum for Gateshead, sometimes known as Gateshead Borough Asylum, and the records are kept at Tyne and Wear Archives. Unfortunately I am unable to attach a link but their helpsheet on medicine on their website shows the records that they hold.

      Many thanks.

  21. Doris Sayer says:

    Hi,I believe my mother was at Stannigton hospital around 1926-1928, she broke her spine, aged about 3years old, I have a photo of her in the hospital. Having looked at this site, the hospital was for TB patients, were other patients admitted there.
    Many thanks

    • Northumberland Archives says:

      Thanks for your comment.

      Your photo of her in the hospital sounds interesting. The sanatorium was almost exclusively for patients who had TB up until the mid 1950s. We don’t have case files for the 1920s but if she was a patient her name might appear in an index book or on patient record cards which we do have for this period. If you would like to pursue this you can get in touch via email at collections@woodhorn.org.uk

  22. Joanne Carter says:

    Hi,

    My grandmother told me she worked at Stannington Sanitorium in the 1940s. She met my grandfather there – he was a patient. His name was Joseph Knowles and my grandmother’s maiden name was Evelyn Law. I wondered if you had any records for both of them. My grandmother was an orphan and was born in Halifax in Yorkshire but was sent to the north – firstly to Shotley Bridge and then to the TB sanitorium at Morpeth. I used to like examining the scars from her TB vaccinations – She had four large ones on her arm. Regards Joanne Carter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *