Sunday, 6 December 2015

Miss May Winifred Wareham .............. part 2 Red Cross Nurse

I think I am a little closer to knowing a lot more about Miss May Winifred Wareham.

She had been born in 1888 in Oldham, spent her adult life in Heaton Mersey and first came to my attention through a collection of picture postcards she received from friends and family during the early decades of the 20th century.*

They are a fascinating insight into the travelling habits of middle class Edwardians and range from comic postcards to stunning landscapes of the Black Forest and Monte Carlo.

They now belong to David Harrop who in an effort to find out more about Miss Wareham took the collection to a meeting of the local church she attended and in the course of the conversation one woman remembered that May had worked as a Red Cross nurse during the Great War in Heaton Mersey.

This was one of the temporary hospitals set up during the conflict often in public buildings or private homes.**

They lasted for the duration of the war and then closed and within a generation had been largely forgotten by the communities that supported them.

The beds, blankets and all the other things needed to maintain the hospitals were auctioned off and the buildings returned to their former use, but there are reminders of their existence from a picture postcards taken at the time to a contemporary account of the hospitals in Greater Manchester.***

And now the Red Cross has begun to put online the records of those who served in the hospitals.****

It is a gigantic task given that 90,000 volunteered. The personnel records for surnames starting with A through to R are currently available and volunteers are updating the site with more names every few weeks.

So we shall have a little longer to wait for Miss Wareham but we are close.

So in the meantime I fall back on those picture postcards, which were made in their thousands and offer up a vivid record of the wards, the patients and nurses and the buildings.

But this is the first one I have seen which went behind the scenes and showed the kitchens which  makes it unique.

Here is the doing bit, from the big range, the pots and pans to the food being prepared and unlike others I have seen some at least of those standing in the kitchen will not be nurses but the equally important volunteers who undertook the cooking, the cleaning and the washing of sheets and clothes.

Nor is that all for it also reveals the name of the photographer who was T Everett-Innes of Stockport, and a search of the directories revealed that “Innes-Thomas Everett [of] 108 Wellington Road Heaton Chapel" was listed in Kelly’s 1902 Cheshire Directory as a Photographer.

It is an intriguing thought that Miss Wareham may well have bought some of his postcards to send to her friends and family in return for those scenes of Wales, the Black Forest and Monte Carlo.

I guess we will never know but with a bit of patience and careful research we may discover more about Thomas Everett Innes and more importantly the hospital where Miss Wareham worked because there is an entry on the 1916 Red Cross book on the Heaton Mersey establishment.

Well we shall see.

Picture; the kitchens, the Red Cross Hospital, Heaton Mersey circ 1914, T Everett-Innes, from the collection of David Harrop

Additional material courtesy of the archivist of the Red Cross Society

*The Wareham Family,

**Red Cross Hospitals,

***East Lancashire Branch - An illustrated account of the work of the Branch during the first year of the war, 1916

****First World War volunteers, The Red Cross,

Additional material courtesy of the archivist of the Red Cross Society

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