Hereford & Worcester

Worcester University gets new medical history museum

Muriel Clayson
Image caption Muriel Clayson helped raise £20,000 for a stained glass window installed in the chapel on site

"It's the life of the building and community memory that strikes a chord with me - it's so full of heart and memory."

Catriona Smellie is leading a team of staff and volunteers setting up Worcester's second medical museum on the site of the city's former Royal Infirmary, now the site of the University of Worcester's city campus.

Ms Smellie, previously the curator of the George Marshall Medical Museum at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, said the new £537,000 project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, would feature collections from the original museum as well as fresh material.

She said setting up a sister site, due to open later this year, would rekindle memories and reinforce the importance of the history of nursing that took place within the building between 1771 and 2002.

The former Royal Infirmary is home to the birthplace of what is now the British Medical Association (BMA), known then as the former Provincial Medical and Surgical Association, which was founded by Charles Hastings and a group of colleagues in 1832.

She said: "We think the [former] Infirmary is our star attraction so we've decided to feature it and talk about some of the characters that we know about who worked there and the patients that were treated here.

"It's not the big things - the historically important events - people fell in love, had children, lost family members, gave birth to their children.

"That's what we're celebrating and of course the comradeship of groups like the Worcester Royal Infirmary Nurses League."

'Love of the building'

One of the league's members is Muriel Clayson, 74, from Worcester, a member of the league and who worked at the city's School of Nursing from 1967 to 1995.

She said: "It is the real love of the building and the fact that care went on here for so many years, we're all so familiar with this building."

"I moved to Worcester in 1968 and worked as a clinical nurse teacher on the wards, which ranged from surgical to X-rays, and chest clinics to dental clinics.

"I still call the wards by their old names and when I walk through the building I still see the beds as they used to be lined up."

Image caption The BMA was founded in this room by Charles Hastings in 1832

Mrs Clayson said the changes in the use of the building were almost parallel to the changes and development she had seen in medical care.

She said: "A&E treatment has changed considerably and the care of orthopaedics - where patients were on traction - has changed."

Last year Mrs Clayson helped raise £20,000 to install a stained glass window in the Jenny Lind Chapel that was built in 1850 off the room where the BMA was founded.

She said the 300 members of the league were looking forward to holding their annual general meeting back at the old Infirmary site for the first time in 10 years in May.

She said: "We were very sad when the site was run down, that was between 2002 to 2007.

"We're so relieved the university has developed it so sympathetically in recent years and have been so helpful and supportive towards the nurses league."

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