Hidden Lives Revealed. A virtual archive - children in care 1881-1981 * Image of handwritten text

St Nicholas' Orthopaedic Hospital And Special School, Pyrford

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St Nicholas' Orthopaedic Hospital And Special School, Pyrford

Pyrford, nr. Woking, Surrey

(1908 - 1948)

As early as the 1880s Edward Rudolf realised that there was a lack of medical centres that could cater to the needs of the poorest children. He launched a fundraising campaign in memory of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee to open homes that could address this need. Soon he was able to found the St Nicholas' Home in Tooting. St Nicholas' moved to Byfleet in 1893. Later, when that Home was considered too small, the Society looked for a more permanent solution. The Society acquired a large estate in Pyrford, Surrey - and on this land it built St Nicholas' Orthopaedic Hospital And Special School.

Lady Beatrix Wilkinson laid St Nicholas' foundation stone in September 1907, and the Bishop of London dedicated the Home on 25 July 1908. Lady Beatrix was the President of The Children's Union, which was founded in 1889 as a club for the children of Society's supporters. One of its aims was to raise funds to support a child in St Nicholas'. There were branches of the Union across the country and overseas. Children could raise money by holding fêtes, plays and other events. They also sponsored cots, and children made quilts for use in the Home.

Due to the special role of St Nicholas' as both hospital and home, it looked after boys and girls. The boys were aged up to five years old and the girls up to 16 years old, and 120 children could be looked after at St Nicholas' at any one time.

The Home was managed alongside St Martin's Home for Boys, which moved to an adjacent site in Pyrford from its original building in Surbiton in 1916. In 1923 they amalgamated to become St Martin's and St Nicholas' Orthopaedic Hospital and Special School. This meant that expensive equipment would not be duplicated, and all the children could benefit from the Honorary Orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Rowley Bristow.

In 1948 the Home changed its name to Rowley Bristow Orthopaedic Hospital to honour the then late Surgical Director, and appears to have been integrated into the National Health Service.

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