Wednesday, 14 January 2009

St Mary's Convalescent Home Broadstairs

I received the comments below with regard to Tony Euden’s book The Childrens Convalescent Homes of Broadstairs click here for sample pages. I have a particular interest as much of my childhood was spent in long-term hospitals and convalescent homes in the 50s and 60s. Pretty much all of the institutional food I encountered was appalling and for the most part we were forced to eat it.

Another aspect of Convalescent Homes that I really didn’t like was that one was forced to spend much of the daytime in bed and well remember as a Cub sitting in bed in pyjama bottoms and the top half of a cub uniform doing my dib dib dib and dob dobbing.

I will try to get around to getting permission to publish David Welsh's article from the book on the internet so you can read it if you haven’t got a copy of the book.

“Many thanks for the copy of the book received today (13th January 2009). I read with great interest the pages on St Mary's Convalescent Home in Stone Road, I also read David Welsh's article.
I stayed at St Mary's Convalescent Home in the 50's and my experience of staying there is very different.

I can remember saying goodbye to my mum at Victoria Station and being handed over to a nun, which as a little girl never being away from home before, was very frightening.

I can remember handing over a ration book to the nuns, having to eat porridge every morning for breakfast and even today I hate porridge.

I can remember when I went there I had all new clothes bought for me, I had a little green shoulder bag that my dad bought me, I had a new "liberty bodice" on and a spare one in my case with those terrible rubber buttons - most people of my age will remember the dreaded "liberty bodice". When I returned home my mum went mad, I apparently had everyone else's clothes on but my own, never saw my little green bag again.

I can remember the sleeping quarters (your picture bought memories flooding back). We had a few toys under the bed in a cardboard box. There was a little girl next to me who cried and cried. In the morning she had wet the bed as she did most mornings, the nuns were not very kind to her, those memories have stayed with me all these years

I can remember having lessons out in the fields overlooking the sea. I can also remember going down to the beach. We went down a dark tunnel, on the walls were seaweed, slime, limpets, and smelling of damp, for a little girl this was not good.

Unfortunately my time there was not as pleasant as David Welsh's but I thought you may like to hear a different aspect of St. Mary's.

I went back to Broadstairs about 10-15 years ago, all that was left of the Convalescent Home was a plaque of Mary and child with a lit candle embedded in the cliff.
Anyway, many thanks and thank you for keeping all the memories of Convalescent Homes alive.”


98 comments:

  1. Hi i am doing research for my mum about st Marys, SHe was there in 1960 and remembers not having a very nice time there like you. To this day she would never go back to broadstairs, due to being in that place

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    1. I was at St. Marys in the latter part of the fifties and can tell you that it was not a good place. The only kindness that I received was from nurse Vina. As for the nuns, well, kindness was not a word in their vocabulary. I would love to be in contact with people who will know what I am talking about. It is difficult to understand for people who did not directly experience what went on there, and I have a particular image with regard to that place that I can never erase from my mind.

      Julie.

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    2. I was at St. Marys in the latter part of the fifties and can tell you that it was not a good place. The only kindness that I received was from nurse Vina. As for the nuns, well, kindness was not a word in their vocabulary. I would love to be in contact with people who will know what I am talking about. It is difficult to understand for people who did not directly experience what went on there, and I have a particular image with regard to that place that I can never erase from my mind.

      Julie.

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    3. Hi Polly, I know this is 7 years late (!) but I also had dreadful experiences there in 1963. Hope this might be of some help even at this late stage.

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    4. Hi Polly, I know this is 7 years late (!) but I also had dreadful experiences there in 1963. Hope this might be of some help even at this late stage.

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    5. Me too, I was there at the age of four in 1951, can't stand the rustle of a nun's lack habit and who remembers the jangling of keys. Those that did the patrol of the dormitory in the night, can you imagine the fear of seeing a black shadow when you were half asleep.

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  2. Maureen MerrittJune 10, 2009 10:24 pm

    I was in St Marys 1948 handed over to a nun on Victoria Station. I remember being in a dormitory with a Nurse Gosling in charge. She was in a little office off the dorm with a window to keep an eye on us. We were frightened of her. The girls from town who came to look after us used to steal the sugar (scarce being on ration) and I used to pray in the chapel that they got caught so I could have sugar in my tea. We had no pillows and 1 blanket and bare floorboards. I got into trouble for putting my pyjama bottoms on floor to stand on to get dressed. I remember when Nurse Gosling's light went out we crept into bed with each other to keep warm. Easter came and we were all sat at the tea tables all the food and lots of Easter Eggs there. Visitors governers and parents came in to look. When they left the eggs and all the best food was taken away and we were left with normal rations. All our clothes were put together and you had to wear what you was given. The first Sunday of the month we had to walk in a long line into Broadsgtairs to go to the big Church there. My hair was tied up with bits of rags and people would look at us as we went by. I was so ashamed. Some of the Nuns were severe but there were others that gave you a cuddle when no one was looking. I don't think they realise how hard life was for us children and how unhappy we were.

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  3. Hi Polly and Maureen.
    My name is Bill Hall and I too was a patient at St. Mary's during the middle fifties and would love to talk or e-mail you both and exchange our memories, so if you wish please contact me at:
    Billstoke@billmarg.plus.com
    I look forward to hearing from you.

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  4. I was sent to St. Mary's in the late 50s, I cried a lot and was very homesick. I wet the bed most nights and the nuns ridiculed me, put a ribbon on the end of my bedstead ( I could never understand why as they didn't wake me to use the toilet) and dealt with the wet sheet by tying the top end to the iron bedstead to dry during the day.
    I was often sent to the toilet with my dinner plate and warned not to re appear until i had eaten the food. Unfortunately at that age i did not entertain the idea of throwing the food away and would have been too frightened to have done so.
    I remember a trip to the beach, building sandcastles with another small girl- i still have a photo of us and i believe that day was the only truly happy time I had in the month I was there.
    To this day I cannot understand why the nuns lacked compassion and appeared to take delight in tormenting some of the yound and vulnerable children in their care.

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  5. ann@annmeron.comMarch 27, 2010 5:34 pm

    I was in St Mary's about 1947 ish for six weeks & remember very little not surprisingly My name was then Ann Friedlander.

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  6. I remember, as an eight to nine year old, spending a few months at this religous internment camp recovering from a severe ear infection. Anti biotics were available, but unaffordable being restricted to service personell only at the time - medical rationing.

    What was terrifying to me was the mindless sadistic cruelty of the nuns on a day to day basis.

    For example. Once mobile, I and others like me would be paraded crocodile fashion through the streets of Broadstairs, heavily bandaged, so that the nuns could obtain goods and food for the convent at reduced prices.

    What happended within this covalescent convent was even worse.

    I still bear the scars.

    Eddie

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    1. Eddie, Like you I also bear the scars of my month's stay there in 1963, aged 11. In my case it was a caring nun who saved and shielded me from some of the horrors; the secular staff - in particular my housemother - were the evil ones during my stay. That scary, creepy, nasty place would have made the perfect reality horror movie.

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    2. Eddie, Like you I also bear the scars of my month's stay there in 1963, aged 11. In my case it was a caring nun who saved and shielded me from some of the horrors; the secular staff - in particular my housemother - were the evil ones during my stay. That scary, creepy, nasty place would have made the perfect reality horror movie.

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  7. Hi, I was at St Mary's in about 1946 aged about 5. The nuns were cruel and i have no good memories of the place. I remember being pushed down the dark tunnel to the sea without being told what was going on. Even now, i hate enclosed spaces and tunnels. would be nice to hear from anyone who was there at about the same time as me! - Jennifer Lewis

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  8. Hi, I was at St Mary's in about 1946 aged about 5. The nuns were cruel and i have no good memories of the place. I remember being pushed down the dark tunnel to the sea without being told what was going on. Even now, i hate enclosed spaces and tunnels. would be nice to hear from anyone who was there at about the same time as me! - Jennifer Lewis

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  9. Hi, I was at St Mary's in about 1946 aged about 5. The nuns were cruel and i have no good memories of the place. I remember being pushed down the dark tunnel to the sea without being told what was going on. Even now, i hate enclosed spaces and tunnels. would be nice to hear from anyone who was there at about the same time as me! - Jennifer Lewis

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  10. I and my brother were in a Convalescent Home in Broadstairs for three weeks in the early 1960s. I recall very little apart from the fact that our clothes were taken away from us and we were put into the Home's own clothes - I recall the colour grey. I was separated from my brother and can recall looking at him through a barbed wire fence - he was on a swing and I longed to be with him. The dining hall was very big and they served semolina. My brother does not recall anything at all and I do not want to be insensitive and awaken memories for him unecessarily. However, I of a different disposition, feel that I need to know the name of this awful institution. I recall that it was 1962/1963 and could have been on a hill. I never wanted to ask Mum as I did not want to upset her. Mum and Dad obviously thought they were doing the best for us and had no idea what they were subjecting us to. I am hoping that Tony's book which I have ordered will point me in the right direction. I like Polly Willis's Mum am afraid to go to Broastairs. The thougt of the place fills me with dread.
    Kathryn Hubbard
    10.9.2010 at 1.36 pm

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  11. I was at st mary's in the late
    1950's but only remember little things like going down to the beach through the tunnel that the nuns were not very nice! Also we were made to eat dates which i didn't like but a little boy who sat across from me used to like dates so he ate mine so that i would'nt get in trouble with the nuns however i can't remember his name! If anybody remembers me and has any photos of there time there i would like to here from you!

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  12. I can remember St Marys my Brother and I had to be placed in a home for a couple of years, as he was ill he went to St David’s nursing home nearby and unfortunately for me I went to St Marys. I can remember the tunnel to the beach and sitting at a long table with lots of other children eating. At one time when I didn’t want to eat the food I was punished by the nuns by being hit with a ruler or stick around the face. They were very cruel. Having read some of the other stories I wonder what made the nuns believe that it was ok to treat children in this way. I was there between 1950 and 1951. Colin hodgetts@ntlworld.com.

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    1. I think that my mum spent many years in one of these homes as a child from around 1946-1956. Her name was Cynthia Ann Taylor. I would really love to hear from any one who was there at the same time as my mum and may have met her. My mum would have been 70 this year.

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  13. Maureen wild (Harvey)February 18, 2011 3:15 pm

    It was 1966 and i was aged 6 when i went to st mary's convalescent home. I have vague memories of the home and the nuns, i can remember a big dinning hall were everyone sat and ate together on a big tables, the nuns would serve the meals and would tell us to eat all the meal if we liked it or not, they made us pray alot aswell. Were we slepted was big dark dormitories with dark wooden floor boards and was made to make our own beds, we would be watched as we did this. If i had a parcel of goods from mom & dad i was made to share with those who didnt have anything, i could remember a nun helping me write a letter to my mom & dad but we would be told what to put in. I was there for 7 weeks. If anybody has got any pictures of the home would you leave a comment please

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  14. After watching Neil Morrissey on TV about his life in a childrens home it triggered me to google St Mary's as it brought back some really bad memories. I have read all the posts here with great interest as I thought it was just me that had such a bad experience. For years after my visit I had nightmares. I was there for 6 weeks at the age of 6 in 1959. Taken from home with the promise of a seaside holiday shortly after I had a new brother, I was posted to St Mary's on a train with a new doll. I was never allowed to play with her. It seemed an eternity, I got in the queue to go home every week to be told, no you're staying. I never saw my parents all the time I was there. My grand mother sent me parcels of sweets and a lovely sun hat. It was taken from me, all I had was 2 opal fruits in the whole time I was there. Forced to eat horrible food, bathed with boys in the bath 3 or 4 at a time stood up, not allowed to sit in the little water. Not allowed to go to the toilet when wanted, had to go when they told us and had to ask for toilet paper when needed or if didnt ask for it we were in trouble and if we did they checked to see if we were telling the truth. I got left on the toilet alone for ages and run and hid behind the big curtains in the hall. I was frightened of the stairs and was made to go up and down them with a nun until I walked down them one foot in front of the other correctly. In the 6 weeks I was there I only went to the beach twice as I remember, marching in pairs and not enough buckets and spades to go round. I think we managed 1 bucket and spade between 4 and had to share. I loved the multi coloured rubber buckets, but when it was my turn we had to go back, we didnt have long to play. I have so many memories of that place, the chapel, the rose garden, the dorm, the sisters office. I have 2 picture postcards 1 of the home and 1 of the rose garden. The post card was stamped 13th August 1959. I went from Stone in Staffordshire, my name was Susan Barlow.
    Sue Hilton

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  15. i was there in 1959 i was 9 years old my time there was not very nice the nun who was in charge of the children should have been in the ss she would put the fear of god in me, she used to read the letters and when i wrote home asking my mom to come and get me she made me write it again and say how happy i was .I was made to stand in the cold bathroom one night till i stopped coughing .

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  16. I was there over the christmas of 1959 it was very cold we were made to eat every thing on the plate the food was not very nice we did have some nice times we did a christmas play but the bad times out numbered the good i remeber the younger children having their noses rubbed in the wet bed if thy wet it. when i got home and told my mom we went to see the doctor as i was worse than when i went told him what happened ,but all he said was that nobody would belive a 9 year old child and that i must have been home sick .

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  17. i was there in about 1960/61 after being in a rta.i dont remember much about the place except it was run by nuns and the home overlooked the sea? i contacted chicken pox whilst there and was quaratened for a futher 2 weeks giving a total stay of 4 weeks.i remember a girl in the next bed to me,was you that girl? and i loved the parcels that arrived from my parents.

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  18. no i was in the home 1959 they did not send me to the sick ward just told me to stop coughing i could not ,i was very ill when i went home

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  19. I was wondering if we had the same rights as other children that were in homes run by nuns who can claim compersation for the bad treatment we recived we did not have sexual abuse but the mental was very bad

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  20. Linda Rodriguez (nee Richards)

    Re; St Marys and St Ediths Childrens Home

    I am pleased to report that there is now a Facebook Website called "St Edith's Childrens Home".

    This was created last year, it has brought so many back in touch who spent their childhoods in these homes.

    Recently there was a Reunion at St Michaels Convent Ham Common. This is an annual event every year for old boys and girls. Some 30 of us attended this year.

    Lots of children who were at St Edith's were later moved to Broadstairs as they got older (mainly the boys). the homes are all part of the same Order of Nuns, namely the Anglican Sisters of the Church.

    A few of the older Sisters namely Lydia and Beryl live at St Michaels and are now in their 90's, they were and still are very kind Sisters who have decicated their whole lives to helping others.

    Anyone will be most welcome to join the Group, there are some 400 photos, old and recent for one to browse through, who knows who one might find.

    Also we do welcome any photos that can be added to the site.

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  21. Hi

    My sister was sent to a convalescent home in Broadstairs during the 1950's. I remember her telling me how awful it was there. They force fed her & pushed her down the stairs. My father thought she was telling lies to start with, but on a subsequent visit, she was in such a state, that my Mum brought her home. Not sure whether this is the same place as it was closed down shortly afterwards.
    As a result of this my sister never forced anyone to do anything against their will.

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  22. From the former David Welsh, now known as David Rayner.

    Hi, while I sympathise with those above who have bad memories of being ill treated by the nuns and nurses when staying at St Mary's Home in Stone Road, Broadstairs as children, I have to say that I have no memories of being ill treated there by anyone during my stay there as a nine year old in the summer of 1956. And I can honestly say that I never saw any other child being ill treated, either. In fact, the nuns and nurses were very kind to me and couldn't do enough for us. The only reason that I kept running away and being brought back to St Mary's was because I had never been away from home before (and certainly not 250 miles away from home) and I was homesick and missing my mummy. If there was another reason for me continually running away other than that, then I have no memory of it.

    David.

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    1. My memories of St marys were all good i remember the steps from the grounds of the old St Marys leading to the beach and the long walks around the surrounding areas . The new St Marys was also very nice , we used to get to the beach via some steps called stone gap . After our evening meal we were all allowed a few sweets . We got presents at christmas time . One of the staff even paid for a present for me to take home to my mum . There was also a shop upstais that those who were lucky enough to have money could buy things . I can honestly say that most of the comments about St Marys and the nuns are not what i remember . My name then was Margaret Sawyer

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    2. I was in a children's nursing home, in Broadstairs, August/ September of 1956. I do not know if it was St. Mary's. I was 5 years old and do not have any bad memories of the place.
      Do you know if there were any other children's nursing homes in Broadstairs at that time?
      I remember marching in line along the beach with a nurse leading. I decided to sit on the sand and they soon disappeared from sight. I was found by a man who took me to a band stand to anounce over the speakers "has anyone lost a little girl, she says she is with her nurse !" I thought this was great fun.. The nurse, however, was not amused.
      I would love to know if it was St. Mary's or some other home. If you could help please.
      Best regards
      Teresa Miles

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  23. UPDATE from the former David Welsh, now known as David Rayner.

    Hi, a few Days ago, I was emailed by a television researcher named Helen Richardson asking me if I would like to be filmed and interviewed on camera for a BBC 2 documentary to be shown in early 2012 about the now long gone St Mary's Children's Convalescent Home in Stone Road, Broadstairs and my memories of my stay there as a nine year old in 1956 (she had seen my postings about it on the Internet). Filming is to take place on Wednesday, September 7th. They would call for me and take me all the way from Stoke-on-Trent to Broadstairs where I would be interviewed on camera by John Sargeant. But, as much as I would love to have taken part in the film, I had to decline the offer, as the state of my health these days prevents me from travelling the 250 miles to Broadstairs. It would be far too big a journey for me. I thought innit marvelous? I'd love to do something like that and I can't go! Well, I hope they can find some other former child patient to interview, although after over 55 years since I and my companions were there, survivors of the time must be pretty thin on the ground by now. I understand that Michael Child and Broadstairs historian Barry Wootton will be taking part in the documentary.

    David.

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  24. My god my experence of staying at St Mary's 50's really came back to me reading all the various sad stories of this place St Mary's Convalescent home from others. I can confirm the nuns were very unkind and it was a hard life there. I too was left sating on a washing basin not washing quick enough and crying. I could not come off till I stopped. I can remember the low furiture tables with small tiles on top and most of all having a meal of a bowl of beet root and cold squire cook pototoes and you had to eat it. My mother and sister came on my 5th Birthday with natully a beautiful Birthday cake with candels, I can recall that they lit them and I made a wish, after my family went home. The nuns took it away with no more sighting of it, when my mother came again to visit and said did you share your birthday cake, NO and explanced, she was not very happy with the nuns. I most worse memory I have. I had kind of wort on my arm and they treated it with out any frezzing treatment. They removed it and banaged it up. I can remember still that day and you dare not cry or else. My heart go's out to those like me that had this experence of this St Mary's Convalescent home. I hope to visit this area soon just to see were it was.

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  25. I offten think about my time there and wonder if the children i was with are still alive and remember the place like i do when ever i smell lavender i think about the nuns they used to make things and sell them i bought a pin cusion the one nun whos name i shall never forget as she was pure evil not sure how to spell it but was sister felisea sure that wrong there were two nurses that were very kind to us hazel rollins

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  26. David Rayner (formerly David Welsh)

    One thing I still remember about my stay st St Mary's in 1956 was that the nuns used to wipe our bottoms for us after we'd finished on the toilet. This struck me as very odd, because, as a nine year old, I was quite capable of wiping my own bottom. No puppy soft Andrex in those days, either. It was Izel disunfected toilet paper, rough on one side and smooth on the other. I also often wonder what became of the other children I was there with at the time. I guess that after a period of over 55 years, most of them will no longer be with us.

    David.

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  27. I recently visited Broadstairs and spent a little while looking for the home I was in for a few weeks as a small child. I do not have a lot of memories, but the ones I have are distressing ones of being made to turn matresses in the morning (I was much too small to perform this mammoth task), never having time to wash and being made to sit for what seemed like hours looking at food that I did not wish to eat. I can still clearly remember the tunnel to the beach which used to terrify me. My parents - far away in the Midlands - had no idea of the amount of neglect and unhappiness and were horrified and very angry when I arrived home dirty and with scabs

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  28. I recently visited Broadstairs and spent a little while looking for the home I was in for a few weeks as a small child. I do not have a lot of memories, but the ones I have are distressing ones of being made to turn matresses in the morning (I was much too small to perform this mammoth task), never having time to wash and being made to sit for what seemed like hours looking at food that I did not wish to eat. I can still clearly remember the tunnel to the beach which used to terrify me. My parents - far away in the Midlands - had no idea of the amount of neglect and unhappiness and were horrified and very angry when I arrived home dirty and with scabs

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  29. My god my experience of staying at St Mary's 50's really came back to me reading all the various sad stories of St Mary's Convalescent home from others. I can confirm that the nuns were so very unkind and it was a hard life living there. I experience once, I was not washing quick enough in the morning. The wash basins were big and old fashioned. I was lifted and placed to seat between two of these wash basins as punishment. Being told I could not get down until I stopped crying. My seating position was so uneven and cold after some length of time it was painful. These wash basins were also design around large columns in the middle of this large room as well. I had no wall to hold on to, it was frightening and I wanted my mum. Then being lifted down to the floor by a nun at last was a relief.
    When we had our meals I can recall down size furniture tables with tiles as the surface with small chairs naturally to go with, that we had to sit on. One meal I really hated and to this very day is cooked beet root and boiled potatoes all cut up into squares, mixed together and you had to eat it, being always cold, we had this meal often. I recall my mother and sister came on my 5th Birthday bring a beautiful icing 5 figure birthday cake with candles. The family lit the candles, and when they went home the nuns took the cake away and I had no more sighting of it.
    When my mother came again to visit and said did you share your birthday cake, NO it was taken away. She was not very happy with the nuns. I can recall we spent so much time in chapel, early morning between classes and early evenings I often remember the little chapel with sore knees.
    I had many bad memories of this place but the worse one was. I had kind of wart on my arm and the nun's treated it without any freezing treatment. They held my arm and cut it off, then bandaged my arm, the pain was hell. I can still remember that day and you dare not cry or else. When my mum visited me next, I told her she took me out of there that day returning home goodness.
    My heart goes out to those like me that had experience in this evil place at St Mary's Convalescent home. I hope certain nuns got their punishment in the end with what they did to so many children reading these sad storeys and my own experience. We can hold our heads high but many nuns being at this place cannot do so. I have retyped this as my first write up had spelling errors.
    18 September 2011 17:24

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  30. Hi I remember being sent there when i was about 5 in about 1958. i arrived in a coach and we had to form lines queing up at tables. There were nuns at the tables with older children to help them. A nun told an older boy to put a thermometer in my mouth. I didnt spit it out it just accidentally fell to the ground. The boy picked it up, looked at it and decided it was ok. However a nun stopped him putting it in my mouth and used a clean one. I can remember waiting outside the ultra violet room and wearing the dark glasses. I also remember swapping my new car- transporter for a broken dinky fire-engine.I remember parents visiting and being given lots of bread and butter .I also rember at night in the dormitary hearing lots of children crying but i never cried and just pulled the cover over me to lessen the noise. i loved going onto the beach and walking along the cliff tops in a crocodile formation.it was there i first saw electric fences with red warning boxes.i do not remember any cruelty or bad things. I was there for about 4 weeks but it seemed longer.However afterwards i did have nightmares of the nuns chasing me down a long tunnel. It wasnt till about 5 years after that in the middle of the nightmare i stopped running, turned to face the nun chasing me and kicked her in the leg. i never suffered from that nightmare again but do remember it.
    charles@tellthemradio.com

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  31. i wrote in early feb 2010 and wrote i was there in 1966 but in fact it was 1956, i was there for 7 weeks in the summer and i was aged 6 years, i went there because i suffered from bronchitis by my doctor , i cant remember many bad things but where we slept was very dark and cold, we was made to make our own beds, washed in cold water, with carbolic soap, gifts sent from the family was split so i had to share my goods with everyone else, david rayner could you forward any information about them filming something about the home in early 2012, any information would be lovely

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  32. As far as I know, the programme was made last September for BBC transmission sometime early this year. I don't know the date of transmission as yet. I don't remember washing in cold water, but the baths we had were definitely in hoit water, because I remember the bathroom being fill of steam when we were having a bath.

    David Rayner (then known as David Welsh).

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  33. As far as I know, the programme was made last September for BBC transmission sometime early this year. I don't know the date of transmission as yet. I don't remember washing in cold water, but the baths we had were definitely in hot water, because I remember the bathroom being full of steam when we were having a bath.

    David Rayner (then known as David Welsh).

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  34. I went to St.Mary's in Broadstairs but it was for a very short time in the late 50's. I vaguely remember the tunnel as I was only about 7 but I also recalled going to see a viking longboat, probably at Viking Bay.
    I, and my brother and sister, had previously been in care at Morewell Nursery in Margate but but had recently moved, to St.Edith's Home in Clevedon which was also run by the same order of nuns. Some of the chidren in St.Mary's also went to St.Edith's where alot of us ex-residence have fond memories of :) We now have a Facebook page 'St Edith's Children's Home'. Clevedon' and welcome anyone with a connection no matter how small :)

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  35. Britain's First Photo Album, the television programme on Broadstairs and hopefully St Mary's Home, goes out on BBC2 on Tuesday, March 13th, 2012, at 6:30 pm.

    David Rayner.

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  36. I just watched the programme and the St Mary's Home sequence was ditched in favour of the North Foreland Lighthouse, probably because the producers could get any former child convalescents to appear on the programme. However, Broadstairs historian Barry Wootton managed to avoid ending up on the proverbial cutting room floor after he was interviewed on camera by John Sargeant.

    David Rayner (formerly David Welsh) now aged 65 (well, I will be in April).

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  37. Update to above: I meant to type that the producers probably COULDN'T get any former child convalescents to appear on the programme.

    David Rayner.

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    1. I was at St Mary's in Broadstairs in about 1947 and I hated it there. The Nuns were unkind and I and another girl ran away. We were caught near the railways station and marched back by nuns and were punished for it. My Mother was then asked to collect me. I have memories of going through the tunnel down the steps to the beach. It was a very unhappy time in my childhood and I have never forgotten it.
      S.McGee 10.4.2012

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    2. How strange that I have no memories of being ill treated there and only have memories of the kindness of the nuns and the nurses and, as I remember it, the only reason I kept running away was because I was homesick and missing my mummy (well, I was only nine years old). I'd love to spend a few weeks there now, if it still existed, because I think and feel very differently about things now than I did in 1956. Maybe the nuns were different ones in 1947 to the ones that were there when I was there. I certainly don't remember being punished for running away. My memory of the situation was that they were concerned that next time, I might make it on the train from Broadstairs to Victoria station in London and then anything could have happened to me. That's why, after my third attempt at running away, they arranged for me to be sent back home.

      David Rayner.

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  38. might be they did not want the truth about the place put out on tv .

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  39. Joan 29th April 2012

    I guess I must be one of the oldest survivors to have been at St Mary's. I was there in1932 aged 7. I can't recall how long my stay was. It certainly wasn't a very happy place, but I have no memories of myself or other children being physically ill treated. A few unkind remarks were made by the nuns to various children, myself included. I had to smile at David's "tongue in cheek" reminisence of the nun's wiping his bottom,when he was capable of doing it himself. One day I was given the order to stay in the toilets and make sure no one got off the seat till they had done a bowel movement.
    At that time the toilets were housed in one large room they were child height
    spaced at intervals, without any partictioning of any kind. On reflection I'm not sure if this was an intended punishement (I felt it was),or if I had been elevated to a position of authority. I have so many memories of the home, I will probably share them at a later date. I have a photo of a group of us children on the beach making sand-castles. I wonder if any of them are still alive and kicking.

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    1. Joan if you email me a copy of the photo, a photo of the photo in good light will probably good enough definition for the internet, I will put it in the blog post michaelchild@aol.com

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    2. Hi! Michael,

      Photo very old and small. Promise of improved version if I wait a few weeks.
      When I recieve it I will send it to your email address. You don't say when you were at St Mary's
      at St Mary's. was it in the 30s?

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    3. Joan

      Can anyone tell me where I could buy Tony Euden's book.

      Thanks in anticipation.

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    4. Joan click on the link to the sample pages at the top of the post there is a link at the top of the page of sample pages to the page with the buy it now button on it.

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    5. Thanks for your info Michael, re Tony Euden's book.

      I sent you an email with a photo of a group of children on the beach at St Mary's

      I hope you received it.

      Joan

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    6. Joan sorry about the delay, as Alice said “I forgot” your picture is now in the post and should expand when clicked on compulsively.

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  40. To whom it may concern: Re St Mary's and St Edith's - Homes run by the Sisters of the Church until the 1970's

    There is a new blogger site stediths.blogspot.co.uk. There isnt a great deal of information about St Mary's at the moment, most of the people are from St.Edith's, it would appear that St.Mary's seemed to be short stay convalescent breaks for sick children. However I am aware that when boys reached 8 years of age at St.Edith's they were usually moved to St.Mary's
    Please feel free to add your memories, good or bad to share.

    thank you Linda Rodriguez

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  41. Seems quite a few of us 'Edithian's' spent some time at St.Mary's, Broadstairs. Thanks Linda :)

    The url for Linda's blogger site is .. stediths.blogspot.co.uk/ (remember to put the www. in front of it)

    The url for the St.Edith's Facebook page is ... facebook.com/groups/142650159093202/ (again, remember to put the www. in front of it)

    Stay safe all, Andy Osmond

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  42. Just thought I should make a comment. It has taken me over 60 years to return to Broadstairs to try to locate my HELL HOLE. Fortunately, it no longer exists. I am David Brown and was at St Mary's in 1953-1954, recovering from TB. I came from Harefield Hospital in Middlesex. The Nun's were evil, it took 3 Nun's to force me to eat Lettuce, by putting it down my throat! To this day, I cannot eat anything green, and I have only to smell lettuce, which makes me physically sick. The Nun's were extremely cruel, and I am pleased that no other child can now go through what I went through. Very unhappy memories. Thank you. David Brown (now 64 years old)

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    1. hi david i have put mes on before i was there in 1959 it was not a nice place and when my mother told our dr when i got back he said i was just home sick and nobody would belive a 9 year old

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  43. I was packed off to a "holiday home" in Broadstairs in 1952, having my 8th birthday there (which meant I was allowed to have ALL the sweets in the little parcel, instead of just half a tube with the rest being confiscated). It's driving me mad, not remembering its name. It wasn't the St.Mary's in the photo. I think it was on Cliff Promenade.

    The regime was somewhat austere, but then they were lean times. I'm puzzled by the fact that I remember so little - probably because there was virtually nothing by way of interest or entertainment, except crocodile walks around the block, and once, just once, down that tunnel to the beach, being made to wear pre-war moth-eaten swimming costume with large holes in embarrassing places.

    The worst experience of all was having to sit on one of many metal chamber pots all laid out in neat rows a few feet apart for the morning Number 2's. I was acutely disgusted and embarrassed about that. The pots were stored, stinking to high heaven, in a cupboard on a ground floor passage, and then taken up a flight of stairs to the big upstairs room I so detested. Maybe someone recognizes that description and can name the home.

    Supper was a highlight of the day - we'd be in pyjamas, and have milk and beef dripping on bread.

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  44. PS: I have a hunch as to which property it was on Cliff Promenade, and if I'm not mistaken it is still standing (one of the few that has not been demolished and rebuilt). But I shan't identify it. Better that someone else does that, with no further assistance from me. Sciencebod by name, sciencebod by nature!

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  45. is this home now called stone bay school

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  46. what was stone bay school years ago

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  47. The home no longer exists. It was closed and demolished in 1958.

    David Rayner.

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  48. apologies I have had temporarily turn off comments here due to spaming

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  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  50. Dear All,

    I have just come across the ST. Mary’s Convalescent Home blog, and I hope that you do not mind me posting this request. I am a Ph.D. student in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge. My research aims to explore children's healthcare during the twentieth century, with a specific focus on children's convalescent homes. As part of my research I am eager to interview people who experienced children's convalescent homes, this could have been as a member of staff, a patient or the close relative of a patient. If anyone would be willing to meet with me to discuss their time at St Mary’s please email at: mpm52@cam.ac.uk.

    My research has been approved by the University of Cambridge Ethics Committee. I am happy to email you any additional information about my research that you may require.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards,

    Maria
    Email - mpm52@cam.ac.uk

    Faculty of History
    University of Cambridge

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  51. I have just discovered this site having googled to find out about the place I stayed in for four weeks in 1952 as a five year old. I couldn't remember the name but I do remember that tunnel down steps to the sea with iron gates at the end. I also remember the coldness and uncaringness of the nuns, nurses and even the doctor there. I can't say I experienced outright cruelty as some have described but a total lack of any understanding of what a young child, taken away from home with little in the way of explanation might feel or might need. Thank goodness ideas about how to treat children have changed. Not a happy time and not a happy place.

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  52. Hello again. No one has been able to propose where it was I stayed on Cliff Promenade in 1952, but having visited Broadstairs recently and looked at Google maps, I'm pretty certain it must have been the big house, now divided into flats, called 'Naldera'. The trouble is I have been unable to find a single thing on the internet to say it was ever a children's convalescent home, or "holiday home" as it was described to me at the time. Is there anyone with a knowledge of both local geography and local history who can maybe confirm my hunch about the present 'Naldera'?

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    1. Sciencebod my best recommendation is to come into my bookshop next time you are in Thanet and buy the Broadstairs and Ramsgate Street directories for 1950 and then walk along the coast using the directories as your guide. This approach works for me about 75% of the time.

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    2. Thanks Michael.

      In fact I walked along Cliff Promenade about a year ago and singled out "Naldera" as the mansion to which I and dozens of other unlucky ones were dispatched in the early to mid-50s. Yes, a street directory from the period is a good idea, one I had not thought of, and probably no one has transcribed to the internet. But would a street directory necessarily have labelled every residence that had originally been someone's home (I see Naldera was Lord Curzon's in the 1940s as well as being the home of a notorious Nazi-sympathiser and spy) to show it's then current use? One gets the impression that Naldera, if correctly identified, was a somewhat ad hoc acquisition, maybe to deal with the additional home problems caused by aftermath of WW2 and postwar austerity. In my case, it was the death of my mother in 1951 that was the reason. I was told that I was going to a "holiday home" for a month to give my poor grandmother a rest. Some holiday home. Kiddy concentration camp more like it. I guess it's too late to bring prosecutions for historical child abuse. After lunch (woebetide you if you didn't eat every bit off the plate, despite some truly revolting offerings) you were all made to lie down on a hard wooden floor for 30 minutes or more in complete silence. If you uttered so much as a single word, the nurse called you up to the front to be rapped over the knuckles with a big comb. There's more, much more I could say about that gulag. Maria (above) has been in touch. I shall be meeting her in May to give her as much as I can recall, but sadly (or fortunately) time has helped erase many of the memories of that nasty little child-unfriendly establishment perched on the cliffs.

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    3. Sciencebod the directories do list every building, the name of the occupier and if it is a business, church or convalescent home, the name of the business etc and a summery of what the business does. They don’t lend themselves well to transcribing onto the internet as the information is in abbreviated form, the directories I produce are page by page scans of the actual pages in Kelly’s and not ocr conversions into text. Even if you manage to find an online version you then need a mobile version so you can take the directory with you, I do a fair bit of this very localised history and frankly you need to do the walk with the directory to get the best results.

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    4. Thanks Michael. I may well indeed get back to you on that for the extra details that you cite (even if it does require another lengthy drive from Middle England via that infuriating Dartford Crossing!). It would be very interesting to know who precisely ran my small-scale version of St.Mary's (though nurses, not nuns). What surprises me somewhat is to find it's not listed in that Tony Euden book to which you have devoted a page or two and from which I photographed some relevant pages in the town Library when I visited Broadstairs (November 2012).

      It was definitely Naldera by the way. From checking my Broadstairs photo-archive, I found a black-and-white aerial view of the mansion and surrounds taken in the 50s. What had initially puzzled me is now explained - that a new property on the town side has since been added where the play area used to be. I have scarcely any memories of that, despite having spent a lot of time in it (presumably) - a reflection no doubt of the lack of amenities. In fact, one of the few memories was arriving there to find the girls had their own hived-off area, and being forbidden by the playground supervisor from entering it, if only to show boys could skip as well (a single skipping rope being probably the only diversion on offer). Oh those tedious unstimulating memory-erasing austerity 50s!

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    5. PS: Here's a link to a photo in "Bill's Blog" which shows a photo of the very prominent cliff-top location of "Naldera", taken (presumably) from Bill's boat.

      http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_G2s2yBIDE80/TE9An-SsyCI/AAAAAAAACJ4/ah8zZbdvwHE/s320/n_foreland+(Small).JPG

      My dormitory was in the bow-fronted first floor bedroom on the left. The view out to sea (and the Goodwin Sands lightship as I recall) was spectacular needless to say. It wasn't all negative memories.

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  53. I was at St Mary’s in 1956 aged 6 yrs old for 6 weeks. I was sent from the Borough of Willesden, Welfare Dept because I was under weight/malnutrition. It was an awful experience.

    Seeing the photo of the dormitory reminded me of the horrors. Things I remember are:
    Being forced to eat overcooked, slimey porridge
    Being threatened with not being allowed home if you did not eat the foul food
    If we spoke after lights out the nuns would close the shutters and it was pitch black
    The nun’s looked like ghosts
    Standing in a queue for the bath, same water, scrubbed til it hurt
    My short hair being forced into elastic bands and ribbons because it was Sunday Ouch!
    Huge staircase, huge hall, huge windows – terrifying
    Sleeping in each others beds at night to keep warm
    Some of the nuns were horrible, some less so

    How terrible for a sensitive soul!! Did it really do any of the children any good? I doubt it.
    The only good thing I remember is seeing rabbits running around on the lawn in front of the house.

    Where did the Nuns come from? Their convent ought to know what really happened and to check they (the order) are not still doing the same at home or abroad.

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  54. My father and his sister were sent to a Broadstairs children's home for a year or two in 1930 when his father died of TB and his mother couldn't cope with three young children while working, presumably to stay out of the workhouse. He would have been about 8-9 and his sister about 6-7. I believe it was in the Stone Bay area and I remember my father pointing out the location when we holidayed in Broadstairs in the 1960's. He also showed us an iron gate at the bottom of the cliff, which I believe he said gave access to the beach from the home above, although the mists of time may have confused me on that.

    Would the home have been St. Mary's, even though they weren't actually sick? Also, are there any surviving records of the home listing residents, inmates, patients? I assume that the census returns would be of some use, but of course in my case I'll have to wait another 17 years for the 1931 records to be released.

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  55. I was there . as a child with T/B. I spent close on 3 yrs away from home the last 6 months of that time was on the Isle of White, St Catherine's of which I can remember a quiet lot of . The other two and a half yrs at Broadstairs I can remember very little. I can remember a tunnel a beach and a dormitory of sorts. My doctor says i may have blocked this from my mind for some reason other than just plain forgot. I do remember two nuns collecting me from my home and a train ride that seems to have took forever to no where after which nothing.

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  56. my name is Robert, and I now live in the estate built on the site. I would be interested in any photos of the beach access tunnel and the room at the end down on the beach mail to robertdwild@aol.com

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  57. I am sure I'm in the picture of the girls on the beach, I'm the girl to the far right, I know I was in a home there, but don't know why or when have some small memory of buttercups in the garden and stairs at the end of the garden that went down to the beach,My mum told my brother I was unhappy being there, but I have a block my name is Helen I would be glad of any info or if anyone knew me

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  58. I lived in Naldera in the mid/late 60's when it was converted into flats. When I was little I used to ride my trike up to the convent/school up the road and I well remember the tunnel through the cliffs to the beach.
    When I was about 3/4 I came across a young couple pushing a blue Audi off the cliff, I asked them why and they said it was because they didn't want it any more. I remember seeing it upside down on the beach some time later. Funny the things you remember from childhood, Naldera is still there though.

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  59. I was at a Convelescant Home in Broadstairs when I was 4 years old, which would have been 1951. I do not know the name of the place and am wondering if it was St Mary's. I had been sent there for 6 weeks, to recover from Illness. I have vagu,,e memories but do not remember any ill treatment. There was an older girl patient, who took care of me. I also remember being taken on walks to the sea front with a group of other children and having to sleep on mats in a big room, during the afternoon. I think we used to play games in this room as well. My home was in Hampshire but I was lucky in as much that my mothers family and Grandmother, lived near Canturbury, where mum stayed during my visit, so she was not far away. I remember one afternoon being left behind when the others went for their walk and mum came to take me home. Can I ask if children were sent here from the Hospitals, I was a patient in Southampton Children's Hospital during my infancy.

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  60. Hi,
    I was sent to St.Marys as a 4 year old in 1957 due to bronchitis.I do have memories of going down the tunnel to the beach,everyone in the washroom at night,the carbolic soap smell.I also remember being sent a colouring book and crayons by my mum which the nun brought to the bed to show me then took it away saying I couldn't have it as it would mark the sheets.I can also remember being given dates and trying to bury them in the dirt as I didn't want the nuns to know I hadn't eaten them.While there I contracted measles and was left while they all went to the beach and I can remember the gardener coming to the window and talking to me.

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  61. My name Was Debora Lock I was in st Marys about 1960 aged 5/6 I was there for 2 months it was the worse time of my life I remember the dining hall as being very high, and the tunnel to the beach so Damp smelly I think due to the treatment by those Nuns have made me against religion, I Remember marching all the time and cleaning shoes, when my mum & Dad came one Sunday, I was crying so much with that my mum decided she was taking me out of there when she came to take me the mother superior told my mum she cant take me, my mum said you watch me, I then went home and spent the next 50 years to scared to go to Broadstairs I finally went there in 2010 I wont go back there again it made me sick to the stomach being there

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  62. Have returned here after an absence of several months. At last someone else remembers "Naldera" (John Rothwell above)albeit as somone living there after it was turned into flats.

    What's annoying at my time of life (born 1944) that somewhere out there, someone's got photo and memories that aren't being shared. It's like having pages torn from a history book. Weird.

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    1. Hi,I spent a few weeks in a convelescent home in Broadstairs in 1951 or 1952 when I was 4 or 5 years. I needed an operation on my eyes but did not seem to be well enough for the operation to go ahead so I was sent down from London to recover courtesy of the London County Council. I think it must have been the same home as you. I can just remember the bread and dripping and hot drink last thing in the evening with all the children sitting around in a big room. I also remember regular walks around the surrounding streets. Whilst I was at the home I caught scarlet fever from one of the other boys in my dorm and then was transferred by ambulance to isolation hospital in Ramsgate where I stayed for nearly six weeks. My time in hospital was considerably worse that the stay at the home.

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  63. I was in a convalescent home in Broadstairs when I was very young because I had TB. My father also had it and was in an adult convalescent home in a different coastal town. I didn't see my mother that often as it must have been difficult for her with another young child in tow, to visit both my father and I in different places. I don't know whether I was in St. Mary's but after reading some of these posts here, I think it must have been; I am hoping to access my medical records so I can check. I think I was there from 1953 when I was 6 ( I thought it was before this date but I do remember a street party for the Coronation where I lived, so I must have gone after that) until 1955, when I was eventually sent to recuperate in a hospital nearer to where I lived, maybe someone finally realised how damaging it was to take a child away from its family for such a long time. I eventually recovered and went to school when I was 8.

    I certainly remember being made to sit at the table in a large refectory completely alone until food, which was often greasy, grisly stew, was eaten and nearly being sick trying to eat it, that was pretty bad. I also remember catching whooping cough and chicken pox at the same time and being kept in an isolation unit, with no company or stimulation, apart from a nurse coming in to administer medicine or give food. When I recovered and went back to the dormitory, my few possessions had disappeared!

    On a positive note I also remember some swings in the grounds which we loved playing on and some kind person giving us bowls of bread and milk to feed the hedgehogs. I also remember the day beds in a row for our afternoon rests and laying there on sunny afternoons, whispering to my friend Charles.
    My worst incident was being locked in a kind of airing room for laundry which was dark and hot - I can only imagine it was for some minor infringement as I was generally a very shy, quiet child and not naturally disobedient.

    I do wonder whether anyone remembers a royal visit to the home, I have this memory that Princess Margaret visited and all the children were lining the path to welcome her waving flags and cheering - I will have to Google this to see if this really did happen but can't think I would have imagined it.

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  64. I was sent to a convalescent home in Broadstairs about 1956/7 (at age 10/11) after developing a "shadow" on my lung which they called Juvenile TB. I don't remember the name of the home so I can't be sure it was St Mary's, but I do remember that I hated it. The trips to the beach were good though, - I seem to remember a cave in the cliffs there.
    I remember becoming very attached to a little wooden boat that I made in a woodwork class.
    I also remember being dragged by my hair (can't remember why) by what I remember as a nurse but might have been a nun.
    I didn't see my parents very often as they had to travel from Romford by several trains etc and had little money. Quite a big return journey in those days.
    I also remember regular sessions sitting in a group on a continuous circular bench with a massive arc lamp in the centre. In think they called it a sun-ray lamp. We just wore shorts and very dark goggles as it was extremely bright and, I suspect in hindsight, actually did us more harm than good, bombarding us with concentrated UV radiation. Does anyone else remember this? Please let me know as it will help determine whether I was at St Mary's or a different home. (It was definitely in Broadstairs).
    I still occasionally experience that kind of morbid curiosity that makes me want to re-visit the place, but that will not happen as I now live in Australia!

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  65. I also remember the sun lamp sessions, sitting with a group of other children and wearing only my underpants and a pair of dark goggles. However, not at St Mary's, but at Stepping Hill hospital, Stockport. I would have been around five years old, so it would have been in 1952. I always wondered as to why I was in hospital at that time and what was wrong with me and 15 years ago, I contacted the hospital to ask them if they still had my medical records from that period and was told that all medical records are destroyed after 25 years, so mine would have been destroyed in 1977. David Rayner, Stoke on Trent.

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    1. Thanks David for your interest and your reply.
      I am sure that whatever home I was in, it was in Broadstairs. Maybe a sunlamp room was a standard feature in every convalescent home/hospital in those days.
      I guess my records are also destroyed so there's no point in using that line of inquiry. Terry Marter, Renmark, South Australia.

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  66. I was at a home in Broadstairs in the 50's I don't remember hardly anything about it , all I do remember is stairs at the end of the Garden, that went down to the beach,
    And being given cod liver oil capsules every morning, I used to hide it because I. Couldn't swallow pills then, I have seen the picture of the girls on the beach and believe that I am the girl on her own on. The right, I seem to recall a small room with beds in and sitting on a cast iron fireplace talking with other girls, don't know what home it was but it did overlook the sea, my brother says I wasn't Happy being there,

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  68. I was in a convalecent home in 1962. I've been trying find the place all I know was it was broadstairs & was right near the sea. There were many convalescent homes around the area. St Mays closed in 1959. There was a care home run by the metropolitan. http://www.childrenscottagehomes.org.uk/convalescent_homes_in_south_east_england.html
    . Useful link gives you a little info!
    I would be interested in chatting about memories. I was there when I was 6 after having heart surgery at st bartholemews hospital London. I have a few memories of the convalescent home. Also memories of being put on the train with another children & a nurse who was dressed like a matron. The child I was with said I needed to say I was 7, when I got to the home I found out why! Your know why to, if you were that child. Be good to chat ....

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  69. I was in a convalescent home possibly 1957/58 aged 5 or 6 for maybe 2 weeks. I have just stumbled upon this blog and surprised to find that I have so much in common with everyone. Nearly 60 years later I still think of my time there. It didn't put me of Broadstairs as my husband and I took our daughters there when they were small and I have always had a fondness for the place. I don't know the name of the home but I remember the dark tunnel leading down to the beach. I can't recall nuns though. I remember being taken to a London Station by my father and handed over to a matronly figure in blue gaberdine raincoat who held my hand so tightly all the journey down to Broadstairs. I was woken up in the night to sit on a potty and when I sat there too long I would be pulled up by my hair. I also have memories of being made to sit in a big room alone with a plate of congealed fish and potato in front of me that I had refused to eat. Also lining up beside large tin sinks to have our hair washed. The only good memory was a lovely kind nurse, all dressed in white, who cuddled me when we were led to the lovely sandy beach through the tunnel one day. The damp sand smell of that tunnel always comes back to me when I am near a beach. I have recently moved to Cliftonville nearby and often visit Broadstairs wondering exactly where I stayed.

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  70. I have only got around to thinking about googling this today after 70 years as I am trying to write about my childhood for my family!! My name was then Elizabeth Ward or Slawson(not sure which as I was adopted by my father around that time..I was at a convalescent home in Broadstairs for 9 months when I was 3 or 4 suffering from TB. I do not have many memories, but so I guess St Mary's was the one, as I recall going down (can still recall the feel of sand in sandals and the smell of seaweed and worse!) under a tunnel under the road to the beach. I remember crying bitterly at night,not really understanding why I had been left there and being totally bewildered. The beds were white metal, the toilets were very low down, and had no doors! On one occasion at the beach a little boy called Timmy (I think) threw his tin beach bucket at me and cut my head open.I remember lots of blood and crying. I had an aunt who used to bring fresh eggs from their farm, but do not know I ever got to eat them! My parents could not visit much if at all, as Mum was in service in London, and Dad was at sea.
    On one walk around the town we used to pass what we were told was Charles Dicken's house and all had to say Good morning Mr Dickens'. I have been fascinated to read some of the comments above.Most interesting.

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  71. I've only just discovered this blog in the course of researching for an oral history of the area of London where I grew up. I'm not sure if it was St. Mary's Broadstairs where I went in about 1954 but I was sent there for a week or so on the suggestion of the nuns who ran St. Mary's RC primary school , East Row, London W.10. It was an dreadful experience. All the clothes Mum had packed for me were taken off me and locked away in a cupboard, on a shelf with my name on it and I was only allowed one change of clothes for the whole week. It was the first time I had been away from my parents and I cried at night because I was frightened of the strange noises in the dormitory so the nuns transferred me to another dormitory where there were babies and toddlers because they said I was a cry baby. The food was awful but you weren't allowed to leave the table until you had cleared your plate. I was so pleased to be home again.

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  72. I remember my dad telling me that he spends some time in a convalescent home in Broadstairs. He remembered being handed over to a nun at a train station and the tunnel to the beach. He couldn't remember why he was sent there. He passed away a few years ago and I'd like to find out more. Are there any records of the children who stayed there? He was born in 1942 so I would expect he was there in the late 40s, early 50s.

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