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Fond memories and some fire treatment; Residents tell us their stories of a well-loved hospital.


FROM common flu to scarlet fever, inspirational Walkergate Hospital has nursed generations of patients back to health.

Now, after the Chronicle revealed how the 130-year-old Tyneside hospital is to close, memories have come flooding back for dozens of people who were treated there.

And many have today told us their nostalgic tales.

Among them is Nora Brannen, from Walkergate, Newcastle, who was seven when she was treated for diphtheria in 1936.

It was the days before routine childhood vaccinations, when youngsters often found themselves in the Benfield Road hospital with life-threatening conditions.

The 82-year-old mother-oftwo said: "Diphtheria was raging.

"We were moved in the Byker slum clearances to Daisy Hill, then there was an outbreak and I went to Walkergate Hospital."

Irene Baxter, 77, remembers when an outbreak of scarlet fever at Rutherford High School for Girls, in Rye Hill, Newcastle, saw her spend three months in Walkergate as an 11-year-old.

The mother-of-two, from Fenham, Newcastle, said: "I had to lie completely flat on the bed for three months and all I was given to eat was stewed apple. I had a penicillin injection every three hours.

"They decided they were sending me home and told my mother I wouldn't live very long and just to make me comfortable."

Harry Dent, 71, from West Moor, Newcastle, was treated for TB and polio, aged nine.

The retired father-of-two said: "I lived in Durham and was refused treatment there because I was contagious.

"The nursing at Walkergate was out of this world. They even used to sing to the children to get us to sleep." Many former Walkergate patients also remember their families relying on the Evening Chronicle for condition updates before the era of telephones.

Grandmother-of-eight Sheila Spong, 81, from Forest Hall, North Tyneside, said: "Myself and five of my brothers and sisters were all taken in the ambulance from Benwell to Walkergate in 1936.

"Only two of us had diphtheria but the rest were carriers. In those days the patients all had a number and you checked their number in the Chronicle to see how they were."

Sheila Bell, 79, from Lemington, Newcastle, said: "I had diphtheria when I went into Walkergate just before the war. "It's a shame to see the hospital close as it helped a lot of people in those days."


BREAKING NEWS Our front page on the closure FAMILY NEWS Sheila Spong's family would check the Chronicle for news on her diptheria while she was at Walkergate Hospital in 1936 EMERGENCY SERVICE A horse-drawn ambulance took patients to Walkergate Hospital in 1922. Right, the hospital's nurses' home built in 1908
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 30, 2011
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