King George V Memorial Nurses’ Home
While the last finishing touches were being applied, 42 members of the nursing staff of the Royal I.W. County Hospital, during the week ending 20 May 1939, entered into occupation of the new King George V Memorial Nurses’ Home at Adelaide-place, Ryde, and very soon after 49 of the 51 bed-rooms were occupied.
It was the realisation of an ideal which the Management Committee had for a long time been striving to reach. Its accomplishment would have given happier and much better accommodation for the admirable body of sisters and nurses who had for so long loyally and uncomplainingly suffered under far from satisfactory conditions. When the success of the contributory scheme brought with it the responsibility of catering for an increased number of patients the committee, quite properly, set about meeting that demand, but the lack of space at the hospital compelled them to take up a good deal of the nurses’ sleeping accommodation in order to construct the new Princess Beatrice’s ward. A number of nurses had since then been accommodated outside the building, while others, accepting the position with admirable self-sacrifice, had been sharing bed-rooms.
Knowing that the position was obviously unsatisfactory the committee, with great determination, set themselves the task of remedying this state of affairs. After considerable negotiations, plans and specifications were approved, the order was given for the erection of this new building, with its furnishings and equipment at a cost of £20,000. For some months the nursing staff had been looking forward to occupying their new home.
A tour of the building and a peep into one or two of the bed-rooms showed evidence of the pleasure which the occupants were already taking in their new abode. Tulips of very bright hues adorned the dressing tables, and small photographs and other personal treasures of a sentimental nature were neatly displayed.
The new order of things had also given fresh life to the nurses’ sports club, which promoted tennis, badminton, swimming, darts, table tennis, and hiking. It was proposed to organise a tennis tournament, for which prizes were being provided by the matron (Miss A. Last), the president of the club, and the tennis devotees had been emboldened to challenge teams from other hospitals. Sister Scrimshaw (chairman of the club) had been appointed to take charge of the home.
The two-storied building stood in its own grounds of three and a half acres. It was 200ft. in length and the interior had been planned with considerable thought and care, the main features being its compact and convenient character. Opposite the main entrance, which could be reached through a drive from Adelaide-place, was the home sister’s suite, with sitting-room, bed-room, and bath-room. On the same ground floor at the extreme east end was the probationer nurses’ sitting-room, 35ft. by 30ft. Adjoining was a block of six day nurses’ bed-rooms, each 8ft.6in. by 12ft. Farther along the corridor was a sanitary block, kitchen, larder, and maids’ sitting-room, close to an airing-cupboard and maids’ pantry.
On the opposite side of the corridor was the sisters’ sitting-room, 20ft. by 16ft., followed by the staff nurses’ sitting-room, which measured 16ft. by 10ft. Adjoining was a study room, 21ft. by 17ft., and divided by a partitioning folding door, easily operated on a runaway, was the lecture-room of similar dimensions. These two rooms could be thrown into one for displaying medical films or for recreational use. The remainder of the west wing comprised another sanitary block and 12 night nurses’ bed-rooms. Access to the second story was obtained from either east or west wing by wide granolithic staircases.
On the top floor of the centre block were sisters’ bed-rooms, the sister tutor also having a sitting-room to herself. Flanked east and west were further blocks of nurses’ bed-rooms, and in each wing there was another sanitary block, and at convenient points were airing cupboards and maids’ pantries. On that floor a spacious washing and ironing-room had been thoughtfully provided for the use of the sisters and nurses who desired to launder some of their off-duty pretties. The whole of the interior was of white enamel, and the ceilings of the sitting and lecture rooms were done in diamond shaped concrete or ornamental appearance. The whole of the floors were covered with cork laid in squares, which had a cleanly appearance. Every room in the building was warmed by central heating. In the large sitting and lecture rooms this was augmented by gas fires in coloured tile surrounds, with unseen draught outlets.
Hot and cold water was available in every bed-room, and each occupant had an on-and-off pull-chain electric light switch over the bed-head and another electric light over the dressing table. The sisters had a choice of two colour ensembles for their bed-rooms, some choosing rose pink and others green, the ensembles including bed quilt, rug, linen, and waste paper baskets, coloured to match. The nurses’ rooms were furnished in green, the colour of the quilts relieved with striped folk-weaving. The casement draperies, while differing in colour on the two floors, were of the same material, printed linen lined with green casement cloth, which was very effective for black-outs. Baths and a special shampoo cubicle was included in each of the four sanitary blocks.
As it was only intended to supply a few breakfasts and teas at the home the kitchen, while roomy and well equipped, it was not designed for serving substantial meals, those being served at the hospital. Thoughtfully arranged quite handy was the maids’ sitting-room, and their bed-rooms, fitted in the same style as those of the nurses, were also on the same floor.
The architects were the Hon. John Seely and Mr. Paul Paget, and the general contractors were Messrs. Rice and Son, Brighton. A good deal of the work, however, fell to local sub-contractors, Messrs. Hair and Son, of Ryde, being responsible for the central heating apparatus, and Messrs. A. Barton and Son, of Ryde, for the entire electric installation for power and light.
On 6 June 1985, Princess Diana officially opened the one million pounds, Adelaide Court & Adelaide Club complex for old people at Ryde, built in the grounds of the Nurses’ Home. The former Nurses’ Home (photo upper left) was demolished in 1996/97.
Sources: IW County Press & book by Laidlaw
Images: RSHG Archive
Article: Ann Barrett