Wales

Rare artefacts unearthed by Swansea and Bridgend hospitals

Roger Beck, the pioneer of Swansea General and Eye Hospital Image copyright ABMU
Image caption Roger Beck, the pioneer of Swansea General and Eye Hospital

Rare finds - including works of art and a trolley used to transfer wounded soldiers in World War One - have been unearthed in Swansea and Bridgend hospitals.

The artefacts came to light after Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board embarked on a project to catalogue items held in storage.

Some have been stored away for more than a century.

Once a digital catalogue is completed, the board wants to put them on display.

It hopes to secure a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the exhibition, which will tell the story of health care in Wales.

As project lead Martin Thomas explained, the idea came about through a chance conversation.

"My day job, so to speak, is manual handling advisor for the board and I was approached about what to do with an old wicker trolley which was getting in the way," he said.

"When I started to investigate it, I realised that it had been used to transport wounded WW1 soldiers from Clydach train station up to the war memorial hospital.

"It soon became clear that we have hundreds of items like this."

Image copyright ABMU
Image caption Test tubes full of seeds from Glanrhyd Hospital

He approached the chairman of the board about a heritage project and securing a grant from the Charitable Funds Committee to catalogue them "before it's too late".

The first item restored under the project was a long-lost oil painting of Roger Beck, the pioneer of Swansea General and Eye Hospital, painted in 1922 by renowned Swansea artist Gwenny Griffiths.

Other items include early electric shock therapy equipment, a 1940s X-ray chair, dental and maxillofacial prosthetics from the 1920s, a lockable leather glove used to prevent psychiatric patients from harming themselves or staff and test tubes full of seeds from Glanrhyd Hospital.

"If there's anywhere where the innovation and achievements of the NHS over the decades should be celebrated, then surely it's in Wales, the birth-place of the NHS," he added.

Image copyright ABMU
Image caption The seeds were used in the 19th Century to cultivate plants in outdoor areas for mental health patients

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