Welcome to aturnofthekey

 Memories of Old St.Georges Hospital 1818-1995  and Coton Hill Hospital 1854-1976, Stafford
A shared record of the Life and Times of these once-proud Old Hospitals. 25/02/2012

Copyright © to All Material on the Site is acknowledged as being Retained by the Donor/s – Permission for Use – Is Required



(See also  ABOUT  and  ARCHIVED Pages)

Aturnofthekey soon to be future preserved, as part of The UK Web Archive, See Archived page, and UKWA


For Latest News about  Development to the Old Hospital Main Building
With – Artists Impressions – Plans – Features – and – Virtual Tour Video

St Georges Building Amended 1
Keeping the Instantly Recognisable Historic Facade – As It Was
See Here




Some of your Recent Pictures, Bordered Temporarily in red, on the Relevant Pages


Hover over Photos for Donor ID, Info., etc.  –   Left Click to Enlarge

    Newsletter 012 © Courtesy of Staffs Newsletter - Plumber, Edgar Buckett, Retirement Gift Presentation - 1978

 Uploaded  03/11/2015    See  Here



 Some of your Recent Anecdotes – See More of these Here


(03/08/2015)   A Strange Dance – by Roy Shirley . . .

(17/08/15)   Whistling, Fire-Hoses and Perceived Reputations – by Brian Simms . . .


Notes About Comments  –  etc.

Describing a Hospital’s life and care of it’s People throughout it’s long history, on an Open, Public-Access Site, can raise some Sensitive Issues.
We also have very Individual perceptions of these Old Places and People. Some of them may be Positive, some of them may Not always be so.
The Site will always attempt to reflect – these Issues and Differing Viewpoints –  in as Acceptable a way as possible.
In recognition of the above, please, try to be – Respectful of it’s People –  if I have missed anything untoward please  Contact  me.

Comments for On Site Publication – Related to the Site and it’s Contents – are for Recollections of Personal Experiences and or Perceptions.
These add extra Personal Authenticity, hopefully bringing more Variety and Colour to the Site. They are very Welcome and much Appreciated.
It’s always Good-to-Say-Hello, but for Longer-Chats / Personal-Conversations, Please – See the  Contact  Facilities


Back to Top of Page – Here


211 thoughts on “Home”

  1. Roy Shirley said:

    The news that Eddie Hood has died has really upset me, though I only worked for 9 years (1965-1974) at St Georges I have wonderful memories of Eddie. From the time he sutured my right hand, following a work related injury when I worked in the stores, to many a drink I shared with him in the social club. R.I.P Eddie

  2. Brian said:

    I spent two intensive learning periods as a Student on his ward, qualifying at the end of the last one, and then stayed on as his Staff Nurse for a while. Had another phone conversation with him about 5 weeks ago when he and Joyce were still settling in from a recent house move. Took an interest in the Site and did much reminiscing. So many memories both on and off duty.

  3. so sad!!RIP Eddy!!fond memories of bygone days
    condolences to Joycexxx
    Kath and Alf Cox

  4. David T Johnson said:

    I was greatly saddened to hear of the death of Trevor Harrison. He was my first charge nurse when I was a student nurse. During my three years of training he was my mentor and I firmly believe I passed my RMN, first time, because of his help. Rest In Peace Trevor.
    David T Johnson.

  5. Walked through the grounds last week and found that “Scaffolding” now going up apace and workmen now moving about on same.

  6. so ,so sad…mental illness in the news again!!!!I wonder why there is a shortage of beds in this field,the loss of our great hospital,was a tragedy to Stafford,and the many staff ,and patients who resided there

  7. Same old, same old! Too much dithering and soul searching. If we want a Healthy Responsive, Health Service – we need the Funding to provide for the demonstrable needs of the Community, Patients and Dedicated-but-Demoralised Staff, and above all Political Will with Effective Oversight! Would the Populace countenance paying a little more Tax ?

  8. brian said:

    New article re: UK Web Archive Project – Our inclusion in this project really highlights the great importance of Content.

    Your Anecdotes are a valuable resource in terms of this Website. Reflecting your and others experiences and/or perceptions, positive or negative, they bring an authentic balance of variety and colour, to the history of life in these two old Hospitals and their People. Most of us has at least one or more Stories to tell – What are Yours ? – Please think about it – We need Yours! – See Anecdote page for info and ideas etc – and Contact me about sending them in.

  9. Roy Shirley said:

    By date,19th July, it is exactly 50 years since I started working at St. Georges, I was employed as stores porter, and I worked along side Reg Glover, who was the stores man, with Mr Middleton, stores manager, Gordon Gibbons, his deputy, Mrs Walters and Mrs Cundy, clerical staff. I spent 9 happy years at St. Georges as stores porter, then student nurse, then staff nurse.

  10. Hi Roy, I remember them well. Bouncy but genial Gordon and his more austere Boss made sure nothing went out of Stores unless you could prove need of it.
    I’m sure you must have some experiences/events which you could recount as Anecdotes – let me know about them.

  11. bill said:

    Hi Roy, long time no see. How are you doing , are you near retirement now.

  12. Roy Shirley said:

    Hi Bill
    I have now retired I finished 3 years ago, it doesn’t seem that long ago since I was your student at the male admission ward.

  13. Bill said:

    HI ROy NIce to hear from you bet you are enjoying being retired I do 25years now

  14. Roy Shirley said:

    it took a while to get used to the idea of not having to go to work, I admit I missed the friendship of my colleagues, but 3 years on, now I don’t know if I have the time to go to work.

  15. New Anecdotes Posted

  16. Thanks Roy for your new Anecdote

  17. Jenny Cockburn said:

    Goodness me, I have I gone back down memory lane, tell me Roy Shirley is the fly ash still coming in from the south west?? I’ll always remember your dry humour.
    I found this site purely by accident. Jenny (formerly Beale) now Cockburn happily living on he east coast of Scotland.

  18. Roy Shirley said:

    Hi Jenny How are you, what are you doing now. it’s a few years since we worked together.

  19. Jenny Cockburn said:

    Hi Roy, great to hear from you. I left nursing and worked with social services, care manager and eventually trainer/assessor/verifier. Gained B.Ed, DipEd, M.Ed, Lectured in University in England,Acrimonious divorce during this time yippee! moved to Scotland in 2005, lectured in Glasgow. Had enough student problems tears and tantrums decided that I, needed time off my feet for once and finished in March. Like you how I found time to work I’ll never know! I Live next to the River Forth, looking over it as it write to you. I spend hours walking the dogs on the beach, deep joy. what are you up to now?

  20. Roy Shirley said:

    Hi Jenny I left St. Georges in 1974 to a charge nurses post in Dudley, then Rotherham, eventually finding my niche as a Community Psychiatric Nurse (community mental health nurse)for 22years before retiring in 2012. Having an allotment keeps me active and busy.

  21. Jenny Cockburn said:

    Jenny Cockburn 07/08/2015 – Comment on Anecdote ” A Night Visitor ” by Kath Cox
    Kath Cox, I remember the visiting donkey, I was on night duty when the incident occurred and I remember Don Perkins roaring with laughter about it.

    Greetings Roy from sunny Scotland! I envy your allotment Roy. The soil in this area is dense clay, I have enough problems finding plants and veg which can exist in the garden, I think an allotment would kill me off. Do you know what? Over all the years and I have never been able to look at a paper clip without laughing and thinking of you! ( and the fly ash of course.) Jenny

  22. Roy Shirley said:

    It nice to hear from you again, Jenny it sound nice up there, just enjoy the dog walking and the beach

  23. Roy Shirley said:

    I meant to ask Jenny ‘What sort of dogs do you have’?

  24. Jenny said:

    Hi Roy, I am owned by two Border Terriers, the eldest is called Reiver because as a pup he used to steal things. If you haven’t heard of the Border Reivers. look it up,.. the youngest is called Ruaridh (Roory) as his coat is red and grey like the sunset. Ruaridh is Gaelic for red. They are funny, silly and wonderful dogs. Both of them love nothing better than to race along the beach, yapping at the gulls, rushing in and out of the water and once they are soaking wet the next game is find a human who wants to pat them. Once the humans’ attention has been captured they shake themselves vigorously and soak anyone in close proximately. At this point I pretend I don’t know them. The John Muir way has just been reopened, which is wonderful as we can now walk the old footpath the right along the coast. The ‘boys’ and I normally walk and play sticks about 8 miles a day, more if it’s not too windy. How about you? any pets? J

  25. Roy Shirley said:

    The dogs sound wonderful Jenny, we have 2 Shih Tzu’s and they are wonderful, Pam says they are now our children, ours are now (mostly) spread across the world-New Zealand ,China and Germany, though one does only live about 5 miles away.

  26. Just put a New Link to a Very Interesting Article by Rebecca Wynter. See top of this page and/or Other Links page. It’s well worth reading.

  27. A number of similar points have cropped up recently, about use of the Comments facilities on the Site, which are outlined below.

    “I do not want to be a kill-joy, but I don’t visit the Site to read ongoing private chats unrelated to the site. Surely this is not what the site is for. Is there any way to “channel” some of these items so that they are not constantly viewable ?”

    “Why have we been having what amounts to running dialogues between people, just lately on the Home page Comments. If people want to be in touch and talk to each other then why not use Email, Facebook etc. for the purpose.”

    “I’m not against people saying Hi to each other, but it has now reached the level of a cosy private e-mail “chat between friends”. Surely that’s not what the Comments facility is for ?”

    “I thought the Comments section was for remarks etc. related to the site’s function, not just personal ones and follow ups that have little relevance to other people.
    Having signed up for regular updates, I get an e-mail saying “a turn of the key – new comment”, so I naturally go to the site to check it out. Recently it has been for personal conversations which I’m not interested in. I could use the Unsubscribe facility but would then miss out on a lot of pertinent and interesting comments, which is why I like the Site. Can you do anything about it ?”

    There are administrative tools for me to use, but for the time being I am reluctant to do so, as this may just be a flash in the pan. For now, I have made the “NOTES ABOUT COMMENTS” paragraph, on Home and Anecdotes, Less Ambiguous and More Prominent. It’s sometimes difficult to satisfy everyone, but I hope that people will now be more aware and that common sense will prevail.

    Wherever possible, I am always willing to consider and respond to suggestions, constructive criticisms, etc. Just Contact Me.

  28. Jenny said:

    Siobhan Knew Dr Mateu. Brilliant forensic psychiatrist, great fun too.

  29. Roy Shirley said:

    I am suitably admonished Brian

  30. Hi Roy – please don’t take it too personally, it’s all too easy to get carried away with chats – this is something that has happened before and I would rather not resort to using sanctions. I just wanted to remind people to be aware and exercise restraint. If the chat is obviously Relevant to the Site and other viewers – fair enough – maybe they will join in too.
    I hope you will continue to engage with the site – you have been a valued contributor.

  31. The UK Web Archive

    I’m using the latest Firefox as my current Browser but cannot now fully connect to the UKWA (only an Error Reporting page) – via the Home page Link – even via the Links in Google, or via The British Library Links. Though I can connect via an old revision of Int. Explorer.

    Has anyone else been having similar problems – using Firefox – or with any other Browser ?

    If so please let me know, asap, including what Browser you are using etc.

    Many Thanks – Brian

    17/08/15 Sorted

    Corrupted Cookies – a problem on my computer ! I really must get round to upgrading instead of being a penny pinching, Dinosaur !

  32. New Anecdote posted tonight.

  33. Please See – Today’s Update to Previous Posting at top of this page.

  34. Doug Endean said:

    Hi Brian and Roy
    Been visiting the site from time just to keep in touch. Sorry Brian but there are only two thing I know about Firefox, 1 it’s a film that Clint Eastwood ( I think he’s related to our friend Ian Ward ) was in and 2 it was a fancy helicopter in a TV show when I were a younger person.
    Several months ago I was in Stafford and ventured into the grounds of St George’s, I have to say what a shock. I remember the time when you could wander the grounds and see tree’s and the sky. It was like a walk in the park summer or winter and the wildlife, even a squirrel with a red colour on in the tree’s near the nurse’s home, well that’s what Terry Harvey’s wife told me and Bill Simm one morning when she wandered in to the male admissions. Now it’s a mess with “tenement” style buildings and winding narrow roads that would be a nightmare to someone with early dementia. Maybe I am lost in the past but what ever was in the mind of the planners, money I suppose.
    Well Roy I remember the times we had with Mr Simpson (where is he now I wonder?) when we worked in Wolley Ward and Tumper was our boss. He used to tell us stories about his adventures in Ireland or when he was building around Stafford. I used to hold in the laughter until a kick from under the table made it all burst out. Good times as people say. I also remember the ITV 7 we did every week, I got a double placement in the ward which made me a rich man by the end and we collected our winnings that had accumulated over the months, I think I went home with at least 3 quid.
    Now let’s hope I remember the pass word so that this gets posted.
    Cheers to everyone

  35. Brian said:

    Yes Doug
    I have much the same feelings about what sits in the grounds now, even though we need to use old sites like this to build on rather than true greenfield spaces, sign of the times.
    I’m just hoping that they will retain the commanding facade of the old Main Building. It was always such an imposing landmark and triggers lots of memories for many people. My memories stretch back from before I worked there. As a local, I also wandered and played in these grounds throughout my childhood.
    We’ll see.

  36. David Johnson said:

    Although I left St Georges very soon after qualifying I love reading the website, particular the comments from people I worked with. I think we are very lucky to have Brian to run it and we should all make sure not only do we read it but add our comments. Having not lived in Stafford for more years than I care to mention, it is lovely to be able to get on site and think about the past.
    Thank you Brian for all your hard work in producing “aturnofthekey”. I know it is not easy because you do it after her indoors has given you your daily domestic duties, especially the washing up. Not an easy job.

  37. SEE latest LINK above to Development of the OLD MAIN BUILDING
    It looks as though they are keeping the Facade as-was – instantly recognisable – hopefully

      WHAT DO YOU THINK ? ? ?

  38. Another Photo Uploaded from our friends at Staffs Newsletter

  39. Dave Sansome said:

    I came across this memories site and as a child of 12 I visited my mother here her name was Lilly Sansome

  40. Brian said:

    Hello Dave,

    Thanks for your note above. You didn’t say how long ago this was. Although you were only a young boy at the time, It would be interesting to know a little bit more, and what your impressions were etc.

  41. Ernie Ball (Dave Sansome) said:

    Hello Well I must have been about 11..thats 1957. Due to miss diagnosed pnd ref my mother and some ill advised diagnoses my mother was taken away for nearly 5 yrs. On occasion she was let home on weekends. I had a torrid time whilst looking after my brother and sister. My impressions were to say the least confused. But the family rallied round. Dave

  42. Brian said:

    Hello Dave,

    I’m sorry to hear that your mum was misdiagnosed all those years ago. Hopefully we are more enlightened now about women’s pre and post natal problems. I hope her stay was not too traumatic, for herself and the rest of the family, and that all eventually resolved itself.

  43. Ernie Ball (Dave Sansome) said:

    I tried in the 1970,s to get a claim but the records were so disjointed and I believe I was side lined

  44. Doug Endean said:

    Hi Brian and Dave, or is it Ernie?
    If it’s any consolation I worked at St George’s, not as far back as the late 50’s but like Brian we would have worked with people who were nursing in the hospital in those times. I can say that they were people who cared for those patients in their charge and generally knew them better than most nurses of today would know the people they work with, mostly in the community, as it is now. The hospital in my time, late 60’s and then into the 70’s, was a community in itself and going to work was a pleasure, you don’t find that said much today. The wards were comfortable, the food was very good as many a tubby nurse of the time would tell you. Patients were treated with the dignity and respect by staff who did not judge them but understand the behaviour they exhibited and helped them in what was a safe environment for them to be different in. We had cinema, dancing and bingo to name just a few things that went on to make life as normal as possible. Medication was then basic by today’s measure as it has moved on much over the years. Unfortunately people who were patients with identity are now “service users” living in the community often with little support given the reductions in “real” trained nurses that have taken place as Mental Health Nursing has progressed with time. Now I will close before I get into a rant.

  45. Well said Doug. Many of the pre National Health staff may not have been up to date, with the rapidly changing knowledge base from the 50’s onwards, but they had learned to read, know and respond appropriately to those in their care. Those of us who came after had the advantage of modern nursing tuition in theory and practice in the Training School together with Practical, day to day learning experience on the wards.
    The old reliable Apprentice System – still valid – and being brought back today in so many more situations.
    Although an important part of our remit was about short stay acute conditions, into the 70’s we still had a large population of long stay patients to care for. So called Community Care, as is increasingly still the way today, was patchy, poorly planned and underfunded – some patients could never cope in the community anyway. Many had nobody and nowhere else to go to and the Hospital remained their home. There were some in the late 70’s and into the 80’s who were derogatory about “Locked Doors” and “Custodial Care” as they saw it. They didn’t fully see the concept of the Hospital based, extended family community where mostly, everyone knew each other, Patients and all grades of Staff. Some still think that way today.
    The term “Asylum” conjures up all sorts of horrors. However it’s real meaning is – a place of shelter to provide sanctuary, safety and succour.
    As for having a rant, I believe there are many of us who would express similar observations.

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