Leicester General Hospital Nurses' League (Pauline Wells Collection)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Collection of material relating to the Leicester General Hospital Nurses' League, including minute books, 1941-1995; newsletters, 1955-1996; badges; brochures; certificates; dolls and photographs. Also scrapbooks of ephemera relating to the Hospital and the Nurses’ League, put together by Pauline Wells with contributions from League members, including press cuttings, letters, postcards, photographs, certificates, memories, event programmes, hospital publications and reports, 1909-2007.

Publications by or featuring Pauline Wells including Talkabout going into hospital by Pauline Wells (Ladybird Books, 1985), I Proved I Could Do It, autobiography by Pauline Wells (2013), Stitches for Charlie by Joy Allen (1980) which features a nurse called Pauline Wells, and The Palace on the Hill: Leicester General Hospital Centenary 1905-2005 by Dr EH Mackay (2006), which includes contributions by Pauline Wells from the League collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1898 the Leicester Poor Law Board purchased land in Evington for the construction of a new infirmary to care for poverty-stricken people should they fall ill. The building was opened in September 1905 and was considered to be one of the finest infirmaries in the country, gaining the nickname "the palace on the hill". North Evington Poor Law Infirmary, as it was known, could accommodate 512 patients.

In 1914 several wards were given over to the 5th Northern General Hospital for military wounded. In 1915 the whole hospital was taken over and temporarily named the North Evington War Hospital. Ordinary patients had to be moved to other hospitals across Leicester. Control was not returned to the Poor Law Guardians until August 1919.

In 1930 the work of the Poor Law Boards was transferred to local government and the City Council took over management of the hospital. It was renamed the City General Hospital and admitted only patients from within the city boundary. In 1948 with the introduction of the National Health Service (NHS) the hospital came under the control of the Leicester Number 1 Management Committee and was renamed once more: Leicester General Hospital.

A nursing training school was established at the Infirmary in 1918. From 1938 the school admitted men for training as nurses which was very unusual for that date. The Nurses' League was founded in 1941 by the Matron, Miss Claye. It aimed to "form a bond between past and present trained nurses and to keep them in touch with their training school". In 1973 the nursing training school merged with that of the Royal Infirmary to form the Charles Frears School of Nursing. This School later became the School of Nursing and Midwifery at De Montfort University.

Pauline Taylor was born in 1938 in Leicester. She began nursing training at Leicester General Hospital in 1957, qualified in June 1960 and began work at the Hospital. She had married Robert Wells in October 1958 and left the Hospital in 1962 when her son Stephen was born, followed by a daughter, Dawn, in 1964. Pauline returned to work at the Clarendon Park Clinic for children needing tonsil or adenoid operations, remaining there until 1972 when it closed and was incorporated into Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI). Pauline worked as a childrens' nurse at the LRI until she retired in October 1991.

Pauline was very active in the Cubs/Scouts and Brownies/Guides, being awarded the Scout Association Medal of Merit. She was especially interested in the provision of care and support to disabled children and those with special needs, and volunteered at the Special Olympics. After her retirement Pauline was involved in the foundation of and fundraising for the Rainbows East Midlands Children's Hospice.

Conditions Governing Access

Open and available for access. Researchers are advised to contact the Archivist for an appointment.

Acquisition Information

Donated to the De Montfort University School of Nursing and Midwifery by Pauline Wells. The School passed the material to the Archive.

Other Finding Aids

A general box list has been prepared. Please ask the Archivist for information.

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Katharine Short, Archivist, October 2015.

Related Material

Papers of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at DMU: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb3071-d/024

The Record Office for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland hold the papers of Leicester General Hospital as well as several related collections and some papers of the Nurses' League. See http://record-office-catalogue.leics.gov.uk/CalmView/default.aspx