The N.A.A.F.I. at Calderstones 1944

Queen Mary's Military Hospital, was the original site of Calderstones, in Whalley, in 1907. It was being built as an Asylum for Pauper Lunatics. In 1914, when the buildings were almost completed, the war office requested its use as an emergency hospital for the wounded of the First World War.

60,000 British and Allied Servicemen were cared for there. Run on a military basis, sentries stood in boxes, and Grenadier Guards kept order. Following the First World War, the hospital was renamed Calderstones, returning to be an asylum the 'Institution for Mental Defectives', opened in 1921.

A head nurse recorded the following details :-
ADMISSIONS : 11
BEDS OCCUPIED : 11
BEDS VACANCT : 978

In 1939, during the Second World War, Calderstones was again in military occupation. Parts of it were used for evacuees from the London area. Children also came from Booth Hall, Manchester. Nursing staff came from all over the country and held the highest qualifications. Over 18,000 troops were treated in Calderstones. 33 who died are buried in the cemetery. A direct railway line was constructed there, bringing in specially built carriages to carry stretchers and wheelchairs, from the war zones to Blackburn, then Calderstones, where the wounded were speedily transferred into wards. There were 2,360 beds at one time.

In 1946, Calderstones returned to its intended use as a Mental Hospital. Numbers increased, when the National Health Act came, during 1948. In 1994, only a mere 800 patients were left. The nurses used to wear blue uniforms.

The N. A. A. F. I. (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes) canteen and billets were situated in a ground floor ward. On entering it looked gloomy, with barred windows. Inside, the rooms were bright and spotlessy clean.

Staff of the canteens consisted of a Manageress, Cook, Charge hand and assistants. The uniforms worn were khaki and felt very rough.

The dormitory was a jolly place, with 11 beds and lockers squeezed up tightly together. The Manageress and Cook each had bed-sitting rooms.

The work was done on a rota basis. A long tiled passage was scrubbed daily and wooden floors had to be polished and waxed as well. The day started at 5.30am and the cooking range in the kitchen had to be black leaded every day. Fires had to be lit beneath the hobs before breakfast could be made. Two enormous wooden tables had to be scrubbed. Breakfast would be taken here but other meals were eaten in the dining room.

Staff had each afternoon off duty and sometimes went into Whalley.

Once a week a trolley was loaded to take to German prisoners. The wards which held the prisoners were looked after by armed guards.

At Christmas time the patients used to make decorations out of cotton wool and sweet wrappers and hung them up.

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