Collecting Nursing History 38
Muriel Mary Williams
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These badges appealed to me as they were sold as a set at auction, and from first appearances it appeared that Muriel had two general training hospital badges, however when purchased the reverse of the Queen Elizabeth United Hospital, Birmingham badge revealed a different story...
Muriel was born on 11th January 1909 in Worcestershire to Ernest, a Boot Draper retailer, and his wife Mary Ann; they had one other child, Douglas, who was born in 1916. (1) Muriel trained firstly as a Sick Children's' Nurse at Birmingham Children's Hospital from 1927 to 1931, and was placed on the Register of Sick Children's Nurses on 26th June 1931, with the registration number 1969.
4; Fountain and courtyard of St Bartholomew's Hospital.
Fig 5 & 6;
Uniforms as would have been worn by Muriel.
moved to St Bartholomew's Hospital, London fairly quickly. She
completed her Preliminary Training School training there from 2nd
November 1931 - 16th December 1931 and was then a 'Probationer on
trial.' from December 16th 1931- 30th April 1932. She was
appointed as a probationer there on 1st May 1932.
Bathing newborn babies, c.1929-1934 copyright SBHA&M, X8/465
Muriel passed her First exams in April 1933, coming 6th out of 58 nurses; perhaps her Children's' training had helped her succeed; she passed the Second part in April 1935, and her State Finals in February 1936. Muriel was added to the General part of the Nurses register on 13th March 1936, with the number 81174. (2)
Memorial in St Bartholomew the Less; St Bartholomew's Hospital
Church to Isla Stewart. Fig 9; Isla Stewart, Copyright SBHA&M;
Throughout her training she was consistently judged good to very good in the Sisters' end of ward report's, achieving , not surprisingly a very good on the Children's ward. Following ten days of sisters duties on 'Beverley' she left on 27th November 1936.(3)
Christmas Tree in square, Copyright SBHA&M, X8/598; Fig 11, Bed
patients in the Square, Copyright SBHA&M, X8/963
Muriel's links with St Bartholomew's continued through her membership of the League of Nurses, which she had joined by September 1937's League News, with an address in Smethwick, Birmingham.(4) The League magazines note that due to three years of unpaid subscriptions she was removed from the membership list in 1941, however by 1945 she is once again a member; this was a common problem in the League magazines studied, possibly in part caused by changes of address and war time.(5)
Fig 12 & 13; Windows in St Bartholomew's Hospital Church of St Bartholomew the Less; Lt; showing coat of arms, and Rt; The Nurses' window.
From St Bartholomew's, Muriel appears to have moved to work in Birmingham, and within two years is presented with a badge as 'Member of Opening Staff 1938' . Plans for a new 600 bed hospital at Edgbaston, beside the University of Birmingham, which was to include a Medical School had been proposed in 1922, but due to the Great Depression of the 1920's, building was delayed until an appeal to raise more money was successful. Construction of the new 840 bedded hospital had begun in 1933 and Edward, Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone in October 1934. The new hospital was opened on 31st December 1938, and officially opened in March 1939 by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth , when it was named the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. (6)
Muriel joined Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service Reserve on 7th December 1943 as a 'Sister on prob. (emergency)' (7)
Without searching Birmingham Archives, or gaining access to her War service records, which are for next of kin, little more can be found out about Muriel's career. Muriel died in Worcestershire in September 2001, if she left a will this might give more information.
As is often the case with many unmarried nurses who also did not have children, it is often difficult to find relatives who are prepared and able to share information and photographs about the persons life; the search for information about Muriel is no different.
1. St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives, SBHB/MO54/12, 188;
www.ancestry.co.uk; FreeBMD, England & Wales, Birth Index,
2. The National Archives, DT10/195, Register of Sick Children' Nurses'; TNA, DT10/76,GNC Register.
3. St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives, SBHB/MO54/12, 188.
4. SBHA, SL6,1934-8.
5.SBHA, SL6, 1939-44.
6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QueenElizabethHospitalBirmingham, accessed 2nd January 2014.
7. London Gazette, supplement, 18 January 1944, pg 353.
1-6, 8, 12-13. Copyright; Author.
7, 9, 10-11, Copyright; St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives and Museum.
© Sarah Rogers 3/1/2014.
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