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 48 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.
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..
classification follows the schoolsofnursing photograph gallery
convention in order to facilitate member cross-referencing).
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.
RAMC - Royal Army Medical Corps, Nurses/Sweetheart
'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".
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.
Nursing Belts and Buckles - Royal Navy.
Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service . WW1 Suede
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, detached loop now absent. Minor service wear.
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'
Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service -
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.
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.
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.
Nursing Belts and Buckles - Royal Air Force.
2). Civilian Nursing Belts and Buckles -
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
From 1977 it began to accept paying non-Mason patients, but
financial pressures led to its closure and acquisition in 1992 by
Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, not without controversy.
The hospital reopened in 2002 as the Ravenscourt Park
Hospital within the NHS, but closed again in 2006.
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
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
Hospital closed in 1992.
The Middlesex Hospital.
The Middlesex Hospital Plated Nurses Buckle and Blue
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.
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.
Westminster Hospital Silver Belt Buckle.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
Founded in 1912 as the 'South London Hospital for Women' named was
changed circa 1940's to the 'South London Hospital for Women and
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.
Hospital, Silver Nurses Buckles.
A scarce Silver Belt Buckle for St
Bartholomew's Hospital London.
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.
Bartholomew's Hospital, Silver Nurses Belt Buckle 1897
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
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.
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
Royal Free Hospital was founded in 1828 by the surgeon
to provide, as its name indicates, free care to those of little
It is said that one evening, Marsden found a young girl lying on the
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,
called the London General Institution for the Gratuitous Care of
was granted by
in 1837 after a
epidemic in which the hospital had extended care to many victims,
following which it became the Royal Free Hospital.
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 buckle 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 bearing 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.
2). 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
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
United Birmingham hospitals.
East Bordersley Hospital - later became Heartlands Hospital.
Hallmarked Silver. Makers mark T.T. on left hand side
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
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.
8) Kent Area.
Kent and Canterbury Hospital Buckle.
Royal Cornwall Hospital Buckle.
Sterling Silver 1960.
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.
11). Northern Ireland.
Belfast City Hospital.
Victoria Hospital Belfast. An absolutely stunning belt buckle
from this world renowned hospital No further details are
available at the time of publication.
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.
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.
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'.
Unattributed Regions and private company buckles - all UK locations.
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
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
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
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.
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...
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.