Adela Shaw and the Yorkshire Children's Hospital

Opened in 1925 this hospital played an important role in the lives of many children from all parts of Yorkshire.

It was built on the site of an old WWI convalescent hospital, complete with wooden wards, thanks to the generosity of a certain Mrs Adela Shaw. She donated the site following a plea made by Sir Major Robert Bower. Printed in the Yorkshire Herald in 1924 he made the following announcement:

"The urgency is great. There are now in Yorkshire about 5,000 children of school age, now crippled, the vast majority of whom are wholly or partially curable, with proper treatment."

His vision was to create a hospital, where not only the disease was treated, but the children were taught and cared for and aftercare once they were discharged.

With a great deal of persuasion, fundraising and determination, the hospital opened its gates on 31 July 1925. HRH Princess Mary came along to do the official opening ceremony and the whole of the town came out to celebrate.

There was a need for a full-time surgeon and the committee were to recruit a man, who made it his mission in life to help these children and would stay until his retirement - Dr Howard Crockatt. He had suffered from polio as a child and so understood first-hand the difficulties faced by the children. His easy manner and refusal to wear a white coat on the wards made him a firm favourite - Pop Crockatt was his unofficial name!

Alongside Dr Crockatt, Matrons Poole, Bedwell and Lillie all continued the long tradition of cleanliness, discipline and routine. The nurses who were recruited, were just beginning their careers aged just 16 years of age. They lived on site and worked long hours in tough conditions, caring for some desperately sick children. However many of them thanked 'Matron' for setting them out on a lifetime career in nursing.

The children who came to the hospital in Kirkbymoorside suffered from a variety of illnesses, polio, TB, rickets, hydrocephalus to name but a few. All needed orthopaedic care. Those with TB had to be immobilised in frames and splits, whilst waiting for the disease to burn itself out without damaging their joints. Despite the horror of being strapped into these frames, the children continued to live life as normally as possible and many a tale is told of antics and escapades, which should have been impossible! The staff took their patients on outings, arranged shows and entertainment. Generous donations from the community meant no-one was ever left out.

Parents were actively discouraged from visiting, which was limited to once a month; the children naturally became upset and took a long while to settle after visiting day. However for many families it took its toll on the natural bonds between parents and siblings alike. Once back home the children sometimes struggled to feel at home away from the hospital.

With WWII came the need to move the children out and make way for the wounded soldiers. The nearby houses of Welburn and Nawton Towers were converted into temporary hospitals until the war was over.

After the war the hospital name was changed to The Adela Shaw Orthopaedic Hospital. The diseases being treated altered as modern medicine made ever greater advances. In 1958 Dr Crockatt left after a lifetime of care. His fellow surgeon Dr Kitty Adamson remained until her retirement after 30 years service when the hospital closed in 1970.

Why did the hospital close down? The wooden wards had begun to decay, it was too costly to rebuild and the need for a dedicated orthopaedic hospital was removed with the opening of a dedicated ward at Scarborough General Hospital. The site was sold off and eventually built on for housing.

Today all that remains are the gateposts and the old Ward IV, which is now home to the British Legion Club. In 2010 the KHG decided it was important to prevent the hospital, its characters and achievements from disappearing from memory. With the support of Ryedale District Council, the first history was published and following an overwhelming response a second pictorial book was printed the same year.

Stories continued to come into the group and queries about the location led the group to plan the erection of a permanent display board to mark the site and with the interest in the hospital continuing the group hosted a reunion and exhibition in November 2013 in the old Ward IV. At this event the third and final book in the series was launched, which brought together all those adventures and heartache in one place.