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Doreen Rowley


There were three isolation hospital that Bilston people might be sent to - Moxley, Mountford Lane and Parkfields - and I was a patient in two of them.  Parkfields was used for TB patients and I was in the other two.

My first time:  Mountfield Lane

As a child, in 1940, I got scarlet fever and was taken to the Mountfield Lane hospital.  I was taken there in the hospitals horse drawn carriage.  In the back there were two benches, one for the nurse and the other for the patient, where I sat wrapped in a red blanket.  We went in through the Peasecroft Lane entrance, which was the carriage entrance.  I remember that there was one ward for scarlet fever and another for diphtheria.  In the scarlet fever ward there were about six of us children.  I was given nothing to eat for two weeks except a glass of milk twice a day.  I still can't drink a glass of milk on its own.  After that I built up to having proper meals. 

All the time I was there I did not have any visitors - it was an isolation hospital and so they were not allowed.  But relatives came up to the front gate on Mountfield Lane where there was a bell.  When they rang it one of the men on the staff would answer it and take in any bag of goodies that the relatives had brought.  On one occasion I saw my father at the gate.  I slipped out of the ward, into the grounds and waved at him.  He waved back but dropped his hand very quickly because he saw that the Matron had spotted him.  And when I got back to the war Matron was waiting for me! 

When I was sent home after four weeks I had another two weeks at home before I was sent back to school.

My second time:  Moxley

In 1956 I gave birth to my first child and soon after I went down with viral pneumonia.  It was a bitterly cold winter;  it snowed most days, then melted a bit and then froze over night.  When I got ill my husband went along the road to the doctor's to get him to come out and see me.  He banged on the door but got no response.  This alarmed him and he summoned the police.  But there was still no reply.  He eventually turned up at about 12 o'clock.  He immediately aid I had to go to hospital and he said he would get the ambulance straightway.  .  We lived in Wolverhampton Street, hardly a stone's throw from the ambulance station.  The ambulance came five hours later, at 6.05 in the evening.  I was taken into the ambulance on a stretcher - at least by this time it was a proper motor ambulance - and my husband joined me with our baby.  He and the bay were strapped in.  The ambulance set off over the icy roads and I think it hit every bump in Bull Lane.  It was so bad that the driver's mate came into the back so that he could hold me down and stop me and the stretcher bouncing onto the floor.

I lost consciousness somewhere near the gate of the hospital and when I came round I found a large dog staring at me.  It was the Matron's Great Dane, which she regularly took round the wards.  I was told that every night she would patrol the grounds with it to make sure everything was safe and there were no intruders.  The Matron started to leave, telling the nurses to open all the windows, even thought it was a freezing night.  "But I'll catch pneumonia if you do tha" I said.  "Don't be silly" she said, "you've got pneumonia already".  She left the ward and P assed out again, not co come round for another two days and I was in an oxygen tent.  My husband later told me that they had said that I only had 24 hours to live.  But I survived, though my progress was not good.  A consultant came down from Stafford to try to find out why there had been no improvement.  I had told them I was allergic to penicillin but that was what they had been giving me.  As the consultant was examining me I had to scratch myself.  He asked what it was and I told him that the itch was caused by my allergy to penicillin.  He changed my treatment and once and then I started to get better.  But I was in there for five months coming out on Saturday, lst May 1956.  All that time my baby had been in the hospital with me.

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