Collecting Nursing History 60
Nurse Uniform - Belt Buckles
Will Burgess
Early Nightingale School of Nursing Badge Please Note: Whilst every care is taken in checking promoted links, we cannot accept responsibility for your use of third party web links.

Nurse Belts & Buckles



For many years, the belts, and their associated buckles, worn as part of a nurses uniform, would seem to have been largely ignored by collectors.  And yet those coloured, often 'Petersham' belts relayed a good deal of information about the wearer - category of nursing; rank; stage of training for example; as did the buckle itself - albeit to a lesser extent. To a lesser extent probably because their exact origin (provenance)  is difficult to determine. Markings more often than not, do not identify for example, the who; where; and when of the original owner. But much can still be ascertained with a little diligent research. *There is still information and photographs to be added when available.

*There are now 54 individual items in the collection, plus several reverse sides and photographs of associated clasps where this has been possible. One or two reverse sides have been animated to show the action of the clasps. Simply pointing your cursor at a reverse side will reveal which these latter are.

Perhaps then, this article will do a little to awaken further interest in this area of our nursing history - and hopefully fire those already interested to further interest and collector zeal. No attempt has been made to collate the items which follow in any particular order, since the main purpose herein is to present this small collection and to further highlight the topic itself, although a basic structure is applied as perhaps a starting point for future development. This will also serve to highlight glaring omissions which others may well point to, furthering our knowledge of the topic.

The collection.

1) Military - Army; Navy; Air force -  all geographical regions.

2) Civilian - English; Scottish; Welsh; Northern and southern Ireland; International and other organizations.

3).Unattributed. Buckles and belts privately obtained..

(This classification follows the schoolsofnursing photograph gallery convention in order to facilitate member cross-referencing).


1.) Military Nursing Belts and Buckles  - Army.

a) Royal Army Medical Corps.

RAMC Officers Levee Belt. 
An Officers Levee belt with waist belt clasp (Indian silver,  no markings on it) 1898 - 1901, extremely rare.

Copyright 'opdbarry'


RAMC - Royal Army Medical Corps, Nurses/Sweetheart belt buckle.

'backman" of 'Peters Nursing Collectables' says:-

An unusual two piece buckle in pressed brass metal onto which the regimental badge of the Royal Army Medical Corps has been added in white metal. I believe this to be a souvenir/sweetheart piece from around the time of the First World War. I have been told that such pieces were often gifted by soldiers to the nurses caring for them and might carry the regimental badges of that soldier. Whilst I have seen similar items ,they do not come up too often. Condition is good with some minor dents in the soft metal. Belt loops and clasp are intact - width 119mm height 56mm".


b) QAIMNS. No items.

Photograph sought.


Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps, Stable Belt and Chrome plated buckle. A Queen Elizabeth II period two piece belt buckle for Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. It has the central design of the Dannebrog Cross below a queen's crown and the Corps motto Sub Cruce Candida 'Under the White Cross'. The webbing belt is in the colours of the Corps. Makers mark to rear Hobson & Son (London) Ltd.
Height 46mm

Width 92mm.

Copyright 'backman'


Military Nursing Belts and Buckles - Royal Navy.

Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service . WW1 Suede Belt.



b). Queen Alexandra's Naval Nursing Service - Circa 1885.

A rare 'Naval Nursing Service nurses buckle believed to be the 1885 pattern worn by nursing sisters; silver plated example bearing Victorian Crowned fouled anchor on lined ground, within laurel wreath surround. Very good condition, complete with single fixed loop. Minor service wear.
Height 52mm.

Date (awaited) Uncertain ODPBarry

The 'Naval Nursing Service' was formed in 1884. These Royal Navy trained nurses served on shore, initially at Haslar and Plymouth. In 1902 it was renamed 'Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service' QARNNS.

c). Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service - 1906.

A scarce Edwardian1906 Hallmarked Silver Nurses QARNNS Buckle, the reverse bearing Birmingham silver hallmarks for 1906 and maker's details "S & Co" (Sydney & Co Birmingham). Very good condition, retaining only one attachment loop - which is not uncommon.
Height 51mm.



d). WW1 Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service, 1915

A rare complete First World War 'Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service nurses buckle, Hallmarked Silver Nurses Buckle. and maker's details "TBW" (T B Wilkins) to both parts. Very good condition, an excellent example.
Height 51mm
Width 70mm.



e). Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service - Pre 1952.

A Silver plated Belt buckle for the QARNNS featuring the crown and fouled anchor within the laurel wreath. The crown is a Kings crown which dates it to pre 1952.

Copyright 'backman'.


Military Nursing Belts and Buckles - Royal Air Force.


Copyright 'ODPBarry'

2). Civilian Nursing Belts and Buckles - English.

1). London Area: -

Great Ormond Street Hospital.  Unfortunately we have no accurate information about this one.  We know nothing of the manufacturer/manufacture  -  material; size; weight; or who commissioned this buckle, but it was obviously important to the wearer, although again we have no idea to whom it belonged.... 

G.O.S.H Hospital for Sick Children.  Based of the Hospital Badge this rare buckle is attached to a blue Petersham belt usually denoting the rank of Ward Sister. Copyright.

St George's Hospital Silver Belt Buckle

A lovely silver buckle and clasp mounted on a red Petersham belt, from St Georges Hospital London. Originally located at Hyde Park Corner before relocating to Tooting in 1979, the original building is now a luxury hotel. The buckle, in hallmarked silver for 1977,features St George slaying the dragon. Makers mark for Toye & Spencer. It is in good condition but with some surface scratches as is to be expected from a pre-owned item. The belt is rather worn in places but retains the original clasp.
Height 66mm.

Copyright 'backman'

Royal Masonic Hospital.

Silver Nurses Belt Buckle
A scarce and desirable two piece nurses belt buckle from the Royal Masonic Hospital. The main body of the buckle consist of a heavy convex scrolled design into which are set two panels in a voided centre. The first bears the square and compass, the second the five pointed star, both masonic emblems. This is a slightly later version of the belt which was awarded to nurses qualifying from the Nurse Training School, and is slightly chunkier than the earlier models. The second piece is the buckle clasp. Both pieces are hallmarked for Toye, Kenning & Spencer, Birmingham 1970.The rear is engraved with the recipients name and dated 1971.

Height 70mm.
Width 89mm


Copyright 'backman'

HISTORY. The Freemasons' War Hospital, was opened by London Freemasons with support from lodges in Gloucestershire (Royal York Lodge, Stroud) and around England during World War I in Fulham Road, London, in the premises of the former Chelsea Hospital for Women, and treated over 4,000 servicemen by the end of the war. In 1920 it opened as the Freemason's Hospital and Nursing Home, but outgrew its premises. The new hospital was opened by King George V and Queen Mary, and the king gave permission for the hospital to be renamed as the Royal Masonic Hospital.(1)

The hospital treated over 8,600 servicemen during World War II, and remained independent when the National Health Service was founded in 1948.[1] The Wakefield Wing, with new physiotherapy and pathology departments, accommodation for nurses, and a chapel, was opened in 1958, and a new surgical wing in 1976.[2] From 1977 it began to accept paying non-Mason patients, but financial pressures led to its closure and acquisition in 1992 by the Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, not without controversy.[1][5]

The hospital reopened in 2002 as the Ravenscourt Park Hospital within the NHS, but closed again in 2006.[3]

In 2012 it was stated that the building was being redeveloped by the C & C Alpha Group to house the London International Hospital (LIH), which would specialise in cancer and diseases of the heart and brain.[6][7] In 2015 it was acquired by VPS Healthcare who proposed to reopen it as the 150-bed London International Hospital in 2017, which would be "the centre for tourists to travel to the capital city for state-of-the-art medical care".[4]  The Hospital closed in 1992.

The Middlesex Hospital.

The Middlesex Hospital Plated Nurses Buckle and Blue Petersham belt.

1. A scarce silver plated nurses buckle for the Middlesex Hospital London. Mounted on its original Petersham belt, the buckle bears the badge of the hospital with three rod of asclepius above three Seaxes. It features the arms and motto of the Hospital "MIseris Succurrere Disco" meaning "I Learn (or Endeavour) to succour the unfortunate". Some wear to the plated finish but otherwise good, clasp is present. 



Navy-blue Blue Petersham indicates that this belt was worn by a Ward Sister - pity her name is probably untraceable.


2. Another  scarce 'Middlesex Hospital nurses belt buckle'; silver plated example displaying a contrasting oxidized badge of the hospital in the centre and bearing the motto "Miseris Succurrere Disco" (I learn to succour the distressed). Good condition, complete with both loops, some minor service wear to plating.
Height 64mm.




Westminster Hospital Silver Belt Buckle.

The Westminster Hospital was one of several that did not award a hospital badge to it's nurses upon success at final examination. Rather it awarded a (originally silver and later silver plated) belt buckle featuring the portcullis emblem of Westminster.
This is a silver plated version attached to a in good condition as pictured. Minimal surface wear with some minor scratches.
Height 70mm.
Width 77mm.

Copyright 'backman'.


Plus, this very Similar design of buckle...Of which 'backman' says:-

Two Piece Silver Plated belt Buckle, ? London Jewish Hospital

An interesting, but as of yet, unidentified Nurses silver plated belt buckle. It takes the form of a central motif of The six pointed Star of David of the Jewish faith. This is attached to a lip/eye shape base edged with an oak leaf border. The same base also features on the buckle of the Westminster Hospital Buckle so we may assume the same maker.

This may relate to the London Jewish Hospital in Whitechapel or Tottenham or indeed Manchester or Leeds. If anyone is able to confirm who the issuing hospital was I would be most grateful. The buckle itself is 77mm wide and 67mm tall, with a plain clasp attached to a blue Petersham belt .Condition is good but there are considerable surface scratches from use. An interesting item in need of more research. Note the image with the Westminster buckle is for comparison only.....


The Infant's Hospital, Westminster, London.

A rare pre 1946 silver plated large circular nurse's buckle, depicting an infant in swaddling clothes within a laurel wreath. Very good condition, complete with both belt loops.
Diameter 62mm.



"The Infant's Hospital" was founded in 1903 and was situated in Hampstead, moving to Vincent Square Westminster London in 1907 and changing its name to "Westminster
Children's Hospital" in 1946.

South London Hospital for Women Nurse's Buckle 1912 - c.1940.

Copyright 'backman'.

A scarce original 'South London Hospital for Women nurse's buckle'; rectangular nickel backing plate with an applied crest bearing the sun, waxing and waning moons and nurses 'Lamp of Knowledge' in relief, with motto `Et Dato Gaudetis'. Very good condition, attached loop present, separate belt loop now absent.
Height 61mm.
Width 64mm.

Founded in 1912 as the 'South London Hospital for Women' named was changed circa 1940's to the 'South London Hospital for Women and Children'.


Royal College of Nursing.

Legally a trade union, the RCN is perhaps the leading professional nursing organization in the United Kingdom. The RCN made/makes available wearable items such as badges which can be worn as accoutrements to nurse uniforms, one of which is this magnificent sterling silver belt buckle - circa ???

Prudential Assurance Company Belt Buckle.

A scarce original vintage period large silver plated nurses buckle, bearing the crest of the 'Prudential Assurance Company' with motto 'Fortis qui prudens' (He is strong that is prudent) within oak leaves and acorns decoration. Very good clean condition, complete with all fittings and large navy blue petersham belt and stiffener.

Height 63mm.


St Bartholomew's Hospital,  Silver Nurses Buckles.

.1. A scarce Silver Belt Buckle for St Bartholomew's Hospital London.

Copyright 'backman'

This buckle Consists of a convex silver oval, it bears the Wakering Shield. This one is in good overall condition although with considerable surface scratching, as pictured. It has it's belt loop and hook but is missing it's opposite belt loop and catch, (it should be able to replace this from a good jewelers. It is hallmarked for D&F (Deakin & Francis), Birmingham 1933. Height 66 mm.

2. St Bartholomew's Hospital, Silver Nurses Belt Buckle 1897

Copyright 'backman'

A very rare Sterling Silver one piece nurses belt buckle engraved with the Wakering Shield device of Saint Bartholomew's Hospital and the date 1897.The slightly convex buckle  consists of an outer mesh framework with a plain central rectangle on which the shield has been engraved above the date 1897. Condition is good although with surface scratches and what appears to be a repair to the mesh at 11 o'clock are visible on the front surface. The belt loop is intact and is marked Sterling. I believe this may have been a fashion item which has been privately decorated with the shield and date by it's owner at the time.
Height 63mm by 54mm wide.

*Whilst Silver Buckles were a popular fashion accessory in the late 19th and early 20th century, they are seldom seen in contemporary photographs of nurses at that time. Those associated with the particular training hospital are even rarer and the only hospital that I do tend to see is Barts where the wearing of a buckle appears to have been more widespread.
A Scarce and desirable addition to any Nursing History collection.

Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital Belt Buckle.  A bronze 'Moorfields Cross' buckle featuring the intertwined initials of the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital. This design dates it to the late 1920s.
Height 42mm.

Copyright 'backman'


University College Hospital Silver Plated Belt Buckle.

A nice example of the Belt buckle awarded to nurses at University College Hospital London. It features the arms of the hospital with a Viking type vessel bearing a coiled snake upon the sails. It also features a pair of Maple leaves and the motto 'Ratione Dirige Cursum' -  literally - 'Govern your course by Reason'. Retains most of the silver plate but has some light areas of wear and general surface scratches, No clasp but these can be easily replaced.
Height 66mm
Width 58mm

Copyright 'backman'.

Royal Free Hospital Nurses League Silver Nurses Buckle.

The original badge which was worn by all members of the League when in uniform from 1910 to 1960(Fig 1).  In 1960, to mark its diamond jubilee, the League gave the badge to the Board of Governors, the coronet being replaced by the lion presented by Queen Victoria at the granting of the Charter. This badge was worn by League members from 1960 to 1974(Fig 2).  In 1975 the words Royal Free Nurses' League were replaced by Royal Free School of Nursing Fig 3) and the badge was presented to all trainees of the School. *(Nurses League Mat).

Copyright 'backman'

The Royal Free Hospital was founded in 1828 by the surgeon William Marsden to provide, as its name indicates, free care to those of little means.[1] It is said that one evening, Marsden found a young girl lying on the steps of St. Andrew Church, Holborn, dying from disease and hunger and sought help for her from one of the nearby hospitals. However, none would take the girl in and she died two days later. After this experience Marsden set up a small dispensary at 16 Greville Street, Holborn, called the London General Institution for the Gratuitous Care of Malignant Diseases.[1] A royal charter was granted by Queen Victoria in 1837 after a cholera epidemic in which the hospital had extended care to many victims,[1] following which it became the Royal Free Hospital.[2]

St Thomas' Hospital (Nightingale) Silver Nurses Buckle.

An Extremely rare silver nurses belt buckle and clasp from St Thomas's Hospital, Nightingale School of Nursing. In it's original cardboard box from Spencer & Co, the bucle and clasp appear never to have been worn. The rectangular design bears the central components of the arms of the hospital, namely a shield with a cross, the upper quarter bearinkg a sword for the emblem of London. This is topped by a rose flanked by two Fleur de Lys. Height 63mm, width 48mm. Separate clasp is present. It bears hallmarks for T&S (Toye & Spencer, Birmingham 1975).

Queen's Institute of District Nursing, London.


King's College London Nurses League.


St Helier Hospital and Queen Mary's Hospital for Children.

Copyright 'backman'

West-Sussex Area:-

Southlands Hospital, Shoreham-by-Sea, is a seaside town and port. The origins of this buckle is unclear, but it was probably worn by a member of staff at the Southlands hospital, which also had it's own training school for state Registration and enrolment student nurses.

Copyright 'opdbarry'.


3). Norfolk Area:-

Great Yarmouth and Waveney Health Authority.  Sadly no attached belt and no detail about the previous (if any) nurse owner.  The buckle does, however, present the Health Authority's badge in the centre of the buckle. This badge is more than likely to be the same detail as that presented to nurses at the end of their training.

Copyright 'backman'.


4). East-Midlands.

United Birmingham hospitals.

Copyright 'nursesue@SoN'.

East Bordersley Hospital - later became Heartlands Hospital.

Hallmarked Silver.
Makers mark T.T. on left hand side plate

Copyright 'opdbarry'.

5). Buckinghamshire area.

Vale of Aylesbury Hospital. Hallmarked Silver. A quite exquisite nurse belt buckle - possibly from the Vale of Aylesbury School of Nursing (?Roehampton).  Superbly designed and executed the design incorporates the school of nursing badge with ........ Add



6). Bristol Area..

Bristol Eye Hospital. Hallmarked Silver. Another quite superbly designed nurse belt buckle. Awarded in 1953 along with the hospital badge - perhaps the first in this collection that can be definitely attributed to a particular nurse....  Magnificently inscribed with the recipients name and the month and year awarded - the first we have seen.  A particularly nice buckle with intricate scrollwork on the face side and the badge of the Bristol eye hospital in the centre. Very Nice.

Copyright Sue Sullivan


7). Southampton Area.

Southampton University Hospital SRN Nurses Hospital Buckle, Hallmarked Silver.

Kent Area.

Kent and Canterbury Hospital Buckle.

Copyright OPDBarry@SoN

9) Cornwall.

Royal Cornwall Hospital Buckle.

Hallmarked Sterling Silver 1960.

Copyright OPDBarry@SoN


Welsh Dragon SRN Nurses Hospital Buckle, 1995 Hallmarked Silver.

A scarce 'Welsh Hospital nurses buckle, depicting a dragon, the reverse bearing Birmingham silver hallmarks for 1995 and maker's details "RS". Good condition, complete with both belt loops.
Height 58mm.
Width 70mm

Copyright  ''


11). Northern Ireland.

Belfast City Hospital.



Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast. An absolutely stunning belt buckle from this world renowned hospital  No further details are available at the time of publication.



A slightly different version of the same buckle - in that it has the appearance of silver or an alloy, but there are no maker marks. There is good elaboration of the rear view of the buckle.

Copyright OPDBarry@SoN

12. Southern Ireland

Rotunda Hospital, Dublin.
An apparently very unusual conversion of an existing belt buckle.  The vendor, 'backman' says:-

A large bronze pin-back badge awarded for Midwifery Training at the Rotunda Hospital Dublin which has been converted to have a buckle fixing. This particular type of badge was first issued in 1916, then manufactured by John Smyth & Sons Ltd of Wicklow Street, Dublin. The central roundel represents the female personification of Charity with two small children. It was adapted for the badge from an original plaster panel that can still be seen in the hospital’s chapel. This motif together with the titles forms the Rotunda hospital crest. The letters B and M acknowledge the hospital’s founder, Bartholomew Mosse (1712–1759). Good condition with the addition of belt fixing as pictured. Stamped to rear is a number and the motto "To Do my Duty" (difficult to see). Height 49mm.

Copyright backman@SoN


12). International and other organizations,
Canadian, Victoria State.
 Another magical Nurse belt buckle - provenance unfortunately unknown - though this of course is not unusual in the world of belt buckles. It is of 28 grams sterling silver gilt - giving (originally - now worn) a surface gold colour and fully hallmarked so  that origin should be traceable. Provenance is difficult in the absence of paperwork, a box and of course the belt, which we do not have.

Copyright 'phillipsbay'

Canadian Military Nurse belt Buckle.  The photographs of this stunning example of a complete Canadian belt and buckle. The hand-written  inscription on the rear of the belt would seem, quite probably, to be the nurse's name - as close as can be deciphered - 'Muriel H Dawson'. The surname being a 'best guess'.

All photographs Copyright


13). Unattributed Regions and private company buckles - all UK locations.

There is perhaps one class of belt buckle that is perhaps ubiquitous and almost, at the same time, unique. That of the regular buckle worn by thousand upon thousand of nurses in their daily nursing.  Perhaps the vast majority of these buckles were purchased privately from local jewelers; occasionally handed down as heirlooms; or otherwise obtained to embellish those coloured 'Petersham'  uniform belts. It was probably rare to find a qualified nurse in uniform without one of these superb, mostly silver, often unique, items.

Art Nouveau Ornate Hallmarked Silver Nurses Buckle 1907

A stunning fine quality Art Nouveau ornate silver nurses buckle, the front bearing Birmingham silver hallmarks for 1907 and maker's details "A.J.S" (Arthur Johnson Smith, Birmingham). Very good condition, complete with all fittings.
Height 64mm.
A Stunning Boer War Period, 1901 Hallmarked Silver Nurses Buckle

A superior quality scarce Boer War period ornate silver nurses buckle, the reverse bearing Sheffield silver hallmarks for 1901, maker's details "Sutherland & Roden Carver Street, Sheffield" with both halves impressed with the number "4". Very good condition, complete with all fittings.
Width 77mm
Height 51mm.
Boer War Period Nurses 1901 Hallmarked Silver Buckle

A fine quality scarce Boer War period ornate silver nurses buckle, the reverse bearing Birmingham silver hallmarks for 1901, maker's details "A&LLd" (Adie & Lovekin Ltd, Birmingham) and both halves impressed with the number "25". Very good condition, complete with all fittings.
Width 77mm
Height 51mm.

And possibly one buckle which could have been part of a nurse uniform in almost  any location:-

There are still a great many of these buckles available, and provided any nurse has permission to use one as part of personal uniform there would seem nothing to prevent this.

Here's another example:

The green colour denotes an SEN or SEAN qualified nurse - but we have no supporting evidence or information about hospitals yet...  It appears to be sterling silver on a green Petersham belt - very nice. The perhaps more ornate buckle on the blue Petersham belt would have belonged to a Registered nurse - possibly Chris jacks...

Copyright 'chrisjacks1960'


There seems much further work needed in the area of nurse belts & buckles. We are continuing to work on this area - with surprisingly good results so far.  Any acknowledgement which has been accidentally omitted will be rectified as soon as information is received.

Will Burgess. 2018/20/21.


Schools of Nursing.

Hospital Photograph Collections.

Nursing and Hospital badges.

Irish Nursing Badges.
Eric Wilkinson.


Nursing Organizations

Statutory Bodies.
Nursing & Midwifery Council.

Professional/Trade Unions.
Royal College of Nursing.

Badge Makers.
Thomas Fattorini.
Marple & Bradley
Brooke (Edinburg)
K&S (Edinburgh)
J.Gaunt (London)
(Stirling Scotland)
Bladon (London)
Toye&Co (London)

Collector links.

Nursing Badges.

Auction/sales sites.

Eg.Tip: Select 'search', 'View Forthcoming Auctions' select 'Search or Browse Lots to be Sold' and enter 'hospitals' in the description field.


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