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Fleming Memorial Hospital

Fleming Memorial Hospital Word Cloud
Forgotten Women Logo

This background provides some information to the lives of the nurses and girls for the Few Forgotten Women Friday researching those at The Fleming Memorial Hospital, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland.

History of Children’s Nursing

In the past, when access to doctors and nurses was limited, families often relied on, or resorted to, folklore and traditions to alleviate or cure illnesses.


1800s coral charm-necklace, worn by children to protect against sore throats.



Cuming Collection, Southwark Council; Once Upon a Time... a history of children and young people's nursing. The Royal College of Nursing. [1]

Before 1852, only a few hospitals admitted children despite the fact that disease was common and many children died young; medical provision was through out-patient dispensaries, allowing children to stay with their family. In London alone there were about 50,000 deaths a year in the 1850s and at least 21,000 of these were children. [2]

The first in-patient children’s hospital in the UK was Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children which opened in 1852 with just 10 beds. More children’s hospitals were built to allow the children to receive appropriate care from experienced staff and to train nurses to work with children. The Jenny Lind Hospital, Norwich, opened in 1854 followed by Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh then Birmingham in 1861 and Belfast in 1863.

Even at the start of the 1900s children were only allowed a 30 minutes visit once a week, the nurses acknowledged the disruption this caused but some doctors believed that children had short memories and their distress following the visit would pass quickly. It wasn’t until the WWII evacuation of children that the impact of family separation was considered and unrestricted visiting to children in hospital did not begin to be an option until the 1970s. [3]

The Historic Hospital Admission Records Project HHARP provides information, mainly for Great Ormond Street Hospital, including the experience of a child, Annie Kezia Eastland, who was a patient from November 1870 to June 1871.

The industrial revolution created over populated towns and cities with overcrowding in poor housing resulting in outbreaks of infectious diseases. At the same time these towns and cities were home to professional men such as doctors, architects and solicitors who became aware of the need to provide an institution for the relief of poor sick children, as was the case in Sheffield.
This situation also happened in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The Fleming Memorial Hospital Burdon Terrace, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne

In 1886 a solicitor in Newcastle upon Tyne donated £25,000 to build a hospital for sick children, he was John Fleming and the hospital opened in 1888. [4] According to the 1881 census John was living at 1 Gresham Place, Newcastle, with his wife Mary; they were both born in Scotland. Mary died in 1882 and John built the hospital in her memory. It is not known what his connection to Jesmond was, Gresham Place was on the opposite side of the city and John’s office was in the Union Buildings on Grainger Street, a city centre street of grand Victorian buildings. [5] [6] Perhaps he had a client whose child would have benefited from the services of a children’s hospital, or perhaps one of his own children had been ill, or perhaps it was because the land in Jesmond was available. He was known to be a philanthropist and gave over £100,000 to charities. [7] N.B. Prior to the boundary changes Newcastle was in Northumberland.


The Fleming Memorial Hospital [8]


1899 map Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne identifying the Fleming Memorial Hospital, neighbouring the orphanage and the Northern Counties Deaf & Dumb Institution. The orphanage became Princess Mary’s Maternity Hospital following WWII [9]

Nurses in the 1800s

Early nurses were women from the Christian Church caring for people in their homes, hence the name Nursing Sister. Prior to 1860 there was no formal training for nurses, those working in nursing were generally not particularly well educated and the pay was poor, many worked in the workhouse hospitals. Formal Nurse Registration did not come about until 1919 following campaigns back by Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Helena, and Queen Alexandra; the Royal College of Nursing formed following the Nurse Registration Act of 1919.

Nurses were unmarried women, except in the mentally ill hospitals where male nurses worked, and these women were expected to devote their lives to nursing, following WWI this began to change but the vast majority of nurses were unmarried. According to the 1931 Census ‘138,670 women and 15,000 men declared that they were nurses. 88% of the women were single, 5% married and 7% widowed or divorced.’ [10]



2 Paediatric Nursing pg 38 vol 14 no 4 May 2002

3 Once Upon a Time... a history of children and young people's nursing, Royal College of Nursing

4 Newcastle Hospitals Charity

5 1881 Census Class: RG11; Piece: 5059; Folio: 111.

6 UK, City and County Directories, 1766 – 1946, Northumberland, 1879 Kelly´s Directory

7 John Fleming (1807-1890)

Fleming Memorial Hospital, Newcastle-on-Tyne. J.S. Quilter,

9 Ordnance Survey, Northumberland XCVII.NE Ordnance Survey Six-inch England and Wales, 1842-1952 Published 1899 CC-BY

10 History of nursing in the United Kingdom

Jude Rhodes

Former Fleming Memorial Hospital

The former Fleming Memorial Hospital

Image from Geograph used under Creative Commons

Norah Penelope Adamson 1881-1905 from Hetton le Hole, County Durham - No Descendants, Women at Work. 3 minute read.

Marian Barker 1882-1942 from Boston, Lincolnshire - Child Mortality, No Descendants, Sickness. 4 minute read.

Lilian Bell, later Lilian Birkett 1890-1913 from Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland - No Descendants, Sickness. 2 minute read.

Annie Binks 1871-1964 from South Shields, County Durham - No Descendants, Women at Work. 4 minute read.

Edith Wilkie Borrowdale 1876-1924, Isabella Borrowdale, later Isabella Carr 1878-1923 and Ethel Borrowdale, later Ethel Richardson 1883-? from Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland - No Descendants (Edith), Women at Work. 10 minute read.

Anne Hemsley (Annie) Buttercase 1864-1928 from Largo, Fife, Scotland - No Descendants, Women at Work. 2 minute read.

Margaret Cameron, later Margaret Tyer 1863-1943 from Elie, Fife, Scotland - Accident, Women at Work. 5 minute read.

Esther or Edith Hartley c.1889-1969 from Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland - Accident, No Descendants, Sickness. 4 minute read.

Lily Hymers 1880-1903, from Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland- No Descendants, Sickness, Suicide. 4 minute read.

Evelyn Altham Jackson, later Evelyn Altham Lowe 1877-1964 from Brinley, Cambridgeshire - No Descendants, Women at Work. 3 minute read.

Frances Emma Ludlam, 1871-1916 from Walton on the Hill, Surrey - No Descendants, Women at Work. 6 minute read.

Amelia Pressly 1881-1978 from Aberdeen, Scotland - No Descendants, Women at Work.  3 minute read.

Jessie Russell, later Jessie Burrow c.1865-? Cobham, Kent - No Descendants, Women at Work. 10 minute read.

Margery Sample 1889-1912 from Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland - No Descendants, Sickness. 4 minute read.

Margaret Scott 1867-? from Edinburgh, Scotland - No Descendants, Sickness. 2 minute read.

Jane Short 1884-1891 from Newcastle on Tyne, Northumberland - Child Mortality, Lawbreaking, No Descendants, Sickness. 5 minute read.

Euphemia Wright, later Euphemia Cook 1867-1946 from Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland - Accident, Women at Work. 3 minute read.

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