This Won't Hurt - A History of the Hospitals of Lichfield
Hospital histories can be as dry as dust. But this illustrated narrative and anecdotal history of the hospitals of Lichfield, Staffordshire, really brings the past to life. The book is a fundraising initiative for the Friends of Samuel Johnson Community Hospital and has a rich nursing input.
'When we were on nights, the big doorbell used to ring and one of the porters would answer it. Often it would be a tramp wanting a bed for the night and he was taken to the Tramp Ward.' The tramp ward building was demolished in the 1950s.
History which packs a punch
Chris Upton 'trawls through the shelves for the books with some of the finest local tales to tell … Institutional histories can be rather dry, often no more than an endless catalogue of directors and benefactors. This Won't Hurt is different, and didn't hurt at all. The book combines a collection of reflective stories by former staff and inmates with a history of four local hospitals, stretching the geography, but widening the interest.
What the volume shows as clearly as anything, is how widely the term 'hospital' can be defined. Lichfield already had two institutions that called themselves hospitals by the end of the Middle Ages, though we might today call them almshouses.
By the 19th century there was also a workhouse (St Michael's) which had an infirmary wing, as well as a county asylum (St Matthew's), which cared for the mentally ill. Add to that the recently closed Victoria Hospital, that grew out of a private nursing home, and the Hammerwich, which once looked after injured miners and now is a wine bar, and you begin to see how health care has changed in and around the ancient city. Indeed it might appear to have vanished entirely.
Here too your cash will go to a good cause, in this case the Friends of the Samuel Johnson Community Hospital, with the added advantage that the latter is still open.
From the Birmingham Post 20/01/2011