Downham Online Discussion

Forums => Notable Downham Residents (past and present!) => Topic started by: LewishamArtist on January 21, 2009, 09:18:51 AM

Title: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: LewishamArtist on January 21, 2009, 09:18:51 AM
Hello.
 I am currently the 'artist in residence' at Lewisham Hospital and trying to find out as much as I can about this much loved and respected woman who has almost faded from sight.  Marjorie Bell was the Matron of Lewisham Hospital from 1948 to about 1970 and was quite a notable figure at one time.

Any stories, anecdotes or information greatly appreciated. Hope you can help
Many many thanks

.

Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Brenda on January 22, 2009, 07:42:29 AM
Hallo there,

I knew Matron Bell when I was a student nurse at Lewisham Hospital 1963-65.  It was she who interviewed me when I applied to move from Edgeware Hospital after my father's death. She was very helpful and understanding at a time when I was feeling very fragile.

I must say, we nurses were in awe of her and when it was she who did 'the rounds' rather than one of the Deputy Matrons, a hush really came over the ward and a collective sigh of relief went out when she left and we knew we'd come up to scratch.  She did always look rather severe but then, that was the way of things in those days. It didn't do for senior staff to be too familiar with the underlings.  Nursing was still run on quite military lines in those days.

Have you found any photographs of her? I'd love to see if she was as I remember her. 

She had been awarded the MBE for the part Lewisham Hospital took after the Hither Green train crash which was before my time.  I've googled her name  in the past but never come up with anything. Yes, a shame that these people fade from sight, as you say.  Good to know someone is trying to rectify this.

What does a 'artist in residence' do at Lewisham Hospital? 

Bren

Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: christine on January 22, 2009, 06:48:44 PM
Hi Lewisham Artist - think a great number of current and past Downhamites would have spent some time in Lewisham Hospital during their lifetime - and am I right in saying that it is now part of one of the bigger London hospitals.  I can remember Matron from a stay as a six year old (around 1950) when it was thought I had meningitis and, yes, remember that practically everybody, including us children, felt they had to stand to attention (if they could) when she appeared on her rounds.  Amazing isn't it that nearly 60 years later I can still remember the effect she had on the ward, the nursing staff and patients (all children) - but how well it all ran and what a credit her nursing sisters and nurses were and how clean everything was.  Gosh - wouldn't it be nice if we could say the same about today's hospitals - don't think MRSA would dare appear on the wards of any hospital in those days.
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Brenda on January 22, 2009, 09:08:17 PM
Stand to attention is right, Chris.  When on night-duty, if we were sitting at the desk (which was in the ward itself so you could see everything that was happening - much better for nurses and patients as far as I'm concerned) and Night Sister came to do the rounds, we literally had to stand to attention. We were allowed to wear cardigans on nights but we had to take them off in 'The Presence'. 

When I worked on the Children's Ward in 1965, the nurses had to clean the children's lockers and we also had to make the beds three times a day.  Now, it didn't matter if the bed was already made and empty, we had to strip them and redo them and if they weren't done right, the ward sister used to call all the staff and ask who made it.  Phew!  She was one very terrifying lady. We weren't allowed to cuddle or fuss the children either, not even the babies in the cubicles.  Only the senior nurses were allowed in to bath and feed the babies and then we had to come straight out again.  And Sister's beady eyes were on us all the time. 

It was the Ward Sister's responsibility to make sure everything was clean and you're right again, Chris, superbugs would have been terrified!  I have a lovely mental picture of them all screaming as they run away.

Bren
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Pauline on January 23, 2009, 12:11:57 AM
Hi Lewisham Artist - think a great number of current and past Downhamites would have spent some time in Lewisham Hospital during their lifetime - and am I right in saying that it is now part of one of the bigger London hospitals. 

I was in Lewisham Hospital in 1966 in maternity.  Matron Bell does not come to mind, I don't recall that I ever saw her, maybe she stayed away from maternity.  I do recall that we had to give our newborns coddled eggs!  Now if that was one of her innovations, my daughter would like to have had words to say to her, she blames those eggs on her Crohn's Disease.  I do remember the ward, it was huge and every bed was full, no privacy at all.
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Brenda on January 23, 2009, 04:08:04 AM


I was in Lewisham Hospital in 1966 in maternity.  Matron Bell does not come to mind, I don't recall that I ever saw her, maybe she stayed away from maternity.  I do recall that we had to give our newborns coddled eggs! 


How very peculiar!  I'll have to ask my friend if she remembers that, she would have been doing midwifery there at the time.  But I don't think we can blame Matron Bell for it.  More likely to have been on the instructions of some old duck in charge of the ward, someone who hadn't progressed past nursing a la Crimean War! 

Sorry to learn your daughter has Crohns.  That's a rotten, rotten thing.

Bren
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: christine on January 27, 2009, 06:27:04 PM
OK girls - what is a 'coddled egg'.  Had my first child in Southampton in 1975 and he was 'breastfed' - not a 'coddled egg' in sight although he had lots of 'cuddles'!
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: LewishamArtist on January 29, 2009, 09:28:59 PM
Hello Brenda,
I have found a few photographs of Matron Bell in the hospital archives which I am using for a piece of work to go in the yet to be built link between 'Outpatients and the new Riverside building. Although the residency is coming to an end I would still like to collect more stories to do something more substantial. If possible it would be great to interview you about Matron Bell and your time at Lewisham Hospital.

There is going to be an open event on the 12th February to launch the new work from both myself and the poet in residence Gale  Burns. Everyone is welcome. I will post more details in a few days.

LewishamArtist

Hallo there,

I knew Matron Bell when I was a student nurse at Lewisham Hospital 1963-65.  It was she who interviewed me when I applied to move from Edgeware Hospital after my father's death. She was very helpful and understanding at a time when I was feeling very fragile.

I must say, we nurses were in awe of her and when it was she who did 'the rounds' rather than one of the Deputy Matrons, a hush really came over the ward and a collective sigh of relief went out when she left and we knew we'd come up to scratch.  She did always look rather severe but then, that was the way of things in those days. It didn't do for senior staff to be too familiar with the underlings.  Nursing was still run on quite military lines in those days.

Have you found any photographs of her? I'd love to see if she was as I remember her. 

She had been awarded the MBE for the part Lewisham Hospital took after the Hither Green train crash which was before my time.  I've googled her name  in the past but never come up with anything. Yes, a shame that these people fade from sight, as you say.  Good to know someone is trying to rectify this.

What does a 'artist in residence' do at Lewisham Hospital? 

Bren


Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Brenda on January 30, 2009, 10:21:25 AM
Hallo Lewisham Artist,

An interview?  It would have to be a very long-distance one (or you would have to pop on a plane) but I am more than willing to answer any questions via email if I can be of any help.

Would appreciate seeing any photos you have too.

Best wishes for the project. 

I've seen pictures of the Riverside Building.  Am I right in presuming that is where the old medical wards were in the 60s?

Bren
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Pauline on January 30, 2009, 11:03:36 AM
OK girls - what is a 'coddled egg'.  Had my first child in Southampton in 1975 and he was 'breastfed' - not a 'coddled egg' in sight although he had lots of 'cuddles'!

Hi Christine

A coddled egg is an egg that has been partly boiled so that the white is still "snotty".
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Brenda on January 31, 2009, 01:09:12 AM


Hi Christine

A coddled egg is an egg that has been partly boiled so that the white is still "snotty".
[/quote]

And is utterly disgusting.
Bren
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Dickie eagle on January 31, 2009, 09:53:19 AM
To "Coddle" an egg you require an egg Coddler. This is a small shallow bowl.usually ceramic, with a screw on lid which has a ring handle in the centre (Sometimes with a chain). The egg is broken into the bowl,the lid screwed on then immersed in boiling water. Why on earth they did not just boil the egg is beyond me
. Bren I will send you one for Syd.               dickie............................
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Brenda on February 01, 2009, 05:41:50 AM
Dickie dear, you are a living encyclopaedia.  Never mind Wiki, we've got Dickie.

Bren
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: christine on February 01, 2009, 10:54:09 AM
Thanks everyone - you are all a mine of information!  Would you believe opened the February 'Waitrose' magazine and lo and behold there was a recipe with coddled egg - what a coincidence but not rushing to try it!
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Brenda on February 02, 2009, 05:51:35 AM
Thanks everyone - you are all a mine of information!  Would you believe opened the February 'Waitrose' magazine and lo and behold there was a recipe with coddled egg - what a coincidence but not rushing to try it!

I do believe it, Chris.  It's those wheels of synchronicity; they just keep on turning.
Bren
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: LewishamArtist on February 11, 2009, 11:42:13 PM
Hello Everyone,
I never really explained what I do as an artist in Resident at the hospital. I was invited by the Arts Committee to engage with the staff, patients and visitors of the hospital and then make a piece of work as response to my experience. It was a bit of a tall order to do in 20 days allotted....  but that is of course another story.

Thank you all so very much for your stories about the Matron Bell, they have really helped to make her a more rounded figure in my mind and hopefully the work which, is being launched tomorrow night. The finished pieces are based around Matron Bell -a bit of a challenge as there was surprisingly little information in the archives apart from a few pictures most of which are not captioned and hardly anyone I encountered knew anything about her. Shame as she had dedicated her whole life to nursing and a great deal of that at Lewisham.

If you would like to see some of the things I did during the residency please look at the blog:
http://residencyartist2008.blogspot.com/

I will post the final images over the weekend and the installation when it is complete. They are still building the link between the Outpatients Dept and Riverside.

There is more information about me and my practice at the following website: http://www.joygregory.co.uk

Joy

PS: Does anyone know when Matron Bell retired and what she did next?? Please help....
Many thanks :)




Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: skooper on February 12, 2009, 12:53:40 PM
Hi,found your site whilst looking for a relative georgina graham,she shared a house with "aunty margorie"yes matron bell!The last time I saw them was about 1973.I recall they had a blue ford escort H reg with about 8000 mls on the clock.Both used to visit and stay  with my parents and nan in cardiff in  the late 50s early 60s.Georgina (aunty joy) was highly qualified in nursing circles and used to come to cardiff and newport to take examination boards.They always seem to arrive in the spring and I always had to travel with them to llantwit major to collect wild primrose plants.The journey from london must have been an epic in an austin a30 called cando!I remember margorie as a small quiet lady with a large mole on her face(facinating if you are 6 or 7).I cant be sure but I believe they moved to lincolnshire sometime in the 70s.Any help please?
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Brenda on February 12, 2009, 10:35:37 PM
Wow, how amazing to read of Matron's private life!  Dig deep in your memory Skooper, we want to hear more.  I can remember when a very young nurse, seeing one of the ward sisters out with a fellow.  It hadn't dawned me before that they were actually quite human!  It gave me a new perspective on them  - particularly those with a tyrannical bent.

Bren
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Brenda on February 12, 2009, 11:29:50 PM
Just had a look at your blog and website, Lewisham Artist (can't we call you 'Joy' now?)
Most interesting and I will revisit.  But hey everyone, when did the wards take names instead of e.g. A3 and E1 and all that? 

Bren
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Brenda on February 12, 2009, 11:35:24 PM
I have an old nursing friend with me at present.  I've asked her for anecdotes about Matron Bell but all she remembers, so far, is being 'told off' by Matron Bell but can't remember for what.  A mutual acquaintance, also a nursing student, was carpeted by Matron Bell for wearing eye makeup.  Doesn't it seem daft now?  I was always being ticked off (not by Matron but by ward sisters and Deputy Matron) for wearing my hair too high so my cap sat on the back of my head instead of the front.  Also got ticked off for shortening my uniform. 

Bren
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: skooper on February 13, 2009, 11:16:22 AM
I,ve spent a time digging deep and am afraid not alot left!they both smoked cravenA ciggies were very fond of reading margorie soppy stuff as nan would say and joy always something intellectual.memories of very thick stockings and brown brogue shoes for rambles.Mother was joys cousin and margorie said she had a detrimental effect on her encouraging the use of makeup whenever they stayed.Nan was very fond of margorie and kept a comprehensive scrapbook of both their achievements,she had a magazine with a full page colour photo and several pages of text from when she was awarded the MBE,cant remember the mag but it must be out there somewhere.I assume that m and j met in the 50s,due to the similar work backgrounds.They both were very good cooks.they must have been to Spain on holiday because one time when they stayed they spent all day with mum in the kitchen making paella mother liked a sherry and i remember joy not making the meal as she had a "headache " as marjorie said .She was non too pleased and hardly spoke to mum for the  next couple of days!When nan died ,mum had all her "stuff"and  I assume that my sister has it now.Would the mag be Woman's Weekly?No recollections of auntie joy from anyone.Skooper
Title: Re: Matron Marjorie Bell MBE - Lewisham Hospital
Post by: Brenda on February 14, 2009, 12:50:17 AM
Wow, that's marvellous, Skooper. Fancy Matron smoking Craven A!  Lewisham Artist must be thrilled with all this info.  Do hope you can find some of the mementoes in the family archives.

Bren