Saturday, 31 December 2016

Collecting for the Ancoats Hospital in the summer of 1924

I belong to that generation which was the first to grow up with the National Health Service.

School Daisy Day, date unknown
It over saw my birth in the General Lying In Hospital in Lambeth went on to look after me through the succeeding decades and is all the more a friend as I pass into my 66th year.

And for most of what I have needed it has continued to be free at the point of need offering the best medical care I could ask for.

But of course had I been born just a decade earlier my parents would have been expected to pay for my care not through their taxes but directly out of their pocket and like many would no doubt have been forced to dig deep from the family income.

All of which is a powerful reminder that there was a time when medical care was neither automatic nor a certainty for a large section of the population and that funding for our hospitals was still reliant on charity and big annual events.

Ancoats fancy dress day, date unknown
These ranged from The Alexandra Flag Days to local events and all were geared to raising cash which brings me back to a series of postcards from the collection of David Harrop and The Daisy Day Parade.

This was a regular event which began in June 1913 to raise money for Ancoats Hospital and consisted of selling artificial daisies and a fancy dress parade.*

All of which brings me back to the post cards.

An invitation, July 1924
Now I have no idea when the photograph was taken which means it could date from the 1920s and perhaps even from the events planned at the General Meeting held on July 17th to which Miss Miriam Buckley of 18 Dawns Street was invited.

It was held in the Out-Patients Department of the hospital and was the General Meeting for the Ancoats Daisy Day’s Hospital.

In time I might be able to track down the minutes and discover if she attended.

There is a reference to a Miriam Buckley aged 10 living with her parents at 59 Herbert Street, Ardwick in 1911 but after that the trail goes cold save for a  reference to her death in 1974.

The Manchester Guardian reports, July 21 1924
Either way I think she would have pleased with the events of the day which the Manchester Guardian reported “took the form of a fancy dress parade on the lines of the student’s procession on Shrove Tuesday.

In this case, however the industrial areas rather than the business centre of the city were tapped by the collecting boxes.  

The better to cover as large an area as possible the parade divided forces, one party going through Ancoats and by way of Ashton Old and New Roads to Belle Vue Gardens, the other combining Chorlton-on Medlock, Hulme, and Ardwick.

Fancy Dree, 1924
Numerous prizes were awarded for figures in the processions and there were prizes for those who collected the largest amounts.”**

I doubt that I will ever be able to confirm a date fo those young people in their Daisy Day fancy dress, but if I were to slip into speculation and fastened on July 1924, then some of those staring back at me may well have become proud parents in an NHS hospital in the years after its creation in 1948.

Now that would round the story off nicely.

Pictures; School Daisy Day, date unknown and invitation to Miss Miram Buckley, July 14 1924 from the collection of David Harrop, and Manchester Guardian, 1924, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

* A Daisy for Daisy Day, A History of Ancoats Dispensary in 100 Objects,

**Fancy Dress Parade for the Hospitals, Manchester Guardian, July 21 1924

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