United Services Ward

The United Services Ward was the third of the three wards established as part of the 1920 extensions lying on the western edge of the sanatorium site. It is not clear from the records we hold exactly why the ward was named the United Services Ward or where all the monies for this series of extensions originated from. However, given the name and the timing of the ward's construction it is quite likely that it was linked in some way to the government's United Service Fund established in 1919 and one of the country's largest benevolent organisations at the time. The fund aimed to care for ex-servicemen and their dependents by providing money and investing in schemes that would assist disabled men, many of whom who would not have been able to return to work. It was chaired by General Lord Byng, with Field Marshal Douglas Haig taking over in 1921, and had several million pounds at its disposal.

The fund was used to establish various community facilities including ex-servicemen's clubs and bowling greens. In the funds remit of caring for the dependents of ex-servicemen it is quite feasible that Stannington could have benefited from such funds. It is also important to note that whilst Stannington established itself as a children's sanatorium and the vast majority of its early patients were under the age of 18 we see a not insignificant number of patients much older than this in its early years. In later years there were age restrictions of 3-16 for girls and 3-15 to boys, although this was not always strictly adhered to particularly at the lower end of the age range. The Matron's Medical Report Book (HOSP/STAN/2/1/1) records the names, ages and addresses of the first patients and in 1908 these included 37 year old Johanna Thompson from Newcastle, and 30 year old Margaret Eleanor Thompson from Gateshead.

It is common to see sharp rises in the incidents of TB and other contagious diseases during times of war and Stannington's work would've been very important. But could it also be possible that Stannington Sanatorium was admitting young ex-servicemen in the years after WWI?


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