Friday, 9 December 2016

The Red Cross Badge ........... a lost Burnage hospital and the lives of Ms Madge Millwood and Mrs Humphreys

This is less a story and more an example of just where detective work can go.

Red Cross Badge, date unknown
It started with a Red Cross badge which my friend David Harrop acquired recently.

David has an extensive collection and without that collection the book on Manchester Remembering 1914-18 couldn’t have been produced.*

A similar badge for Dover House which was on Oxford Road appears in the book but here is the one he purchased which belonged to a Red Cross volunteer at  Brook House in Levenshulme.

Now there is no inscription on the back so I doubt we will ever know who it  belonged to, but I now have a list of 43 women who served in the hospital, along with references to others from the Manchester Guardian who were awarded honours for their work.

They range from Miss Madge Millward engaged in the November of 1916 to Lillian Allen of Stockport Road, and Miss Winifred Ashcroft who volunteered at the very beginning of the Great War.

Some were married but most were single and they carried out a range of jobs from nursing to cleaning and working in the kitchens.

And during the new year I want to explore in detail as many of the 43 as I can. 

In this I will be helped by the Red Cross database which covers those who served in the hospitals.**

Many of the hospitals vanished at the end of the war. Most reverted to their pre-1914 use, while a few continued as hospitals and some became private schools.

Today people express surprise that there was once a Red Cross hospital in their midst.

Brook House, 1900
The site of Brook House on Burnage Lane has been redeveloped and the old house long gone.

And as you do I went looking for it yesterday.  There is a fine picture in the ManchesterCollection along with references in the press and street directories.

Location, Burnage, Manchester

Pictures; Red Cross badge, Brook House Levenshulme, date unknown from the collection of David Harrop, and Brook House, 1900, m16669, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council.

*Manchester, Remembering 1914-18, Andrew Simpson the History Press, to be published in February with a book launch at Central Ref on February 18.

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