The little hospital where every newborn baby got a kiss from the nurse

One of the wards inside Thorpe Hospital.
One of the wards inside Thorpe Hospital.

Wow, what a response!

We got one of our biggest ever reactions to a nostalgic photograph when we asked for your memories of Little Thorpe Maternity Hospital.

The maternity hospital at Little Thorpe.

The maternity hospital at Little Thorpe.

We posted it on social media and loved the comments that rolled in.

The cosy little hospital near Easington Village took in expectant mums from the Sunderland, Wearside, East Durham and even Hartlepool areas at times.

And the general concensus of opinion was – it was exactly how a maternity hospital should be run.

Almost 100,000 people were reached and 730 of you took time to share your memories of the place.

Iad my daughter here in 1984. They really looked after you. I’m sure the nurse that picked all the babies up and kissed them was called Milly. Best hospital and the best nursing care

Ann Kirkup

Some were marvellous recollections, including this one from Linda Wind, who said: “I had my eldest son in there, that was an experience. The delivery suite was called the Wendy house, it was so small.”

She added: “I’ll never forget it as it was in December 1981 and the snow was up to the window sills and no visitors could get in – except that is for my lovely sister who donned her boots and climbed over the mounds of snow. Cried when I saw her walking up the long drive. Evokes many memories.”

Heather Wood recalled: “My first memory of Thorpe maternity hospital is as a child when my dad and me went to pick up my mam who had just had my baby brother.

“I had both my sons there in 1971 and 1976.”

She described Thorpe as “a true community hospital, very often you knew the staff and they knew you. The care was exceptional.”

Heather was one of those who fought against Thorpe’s closure in 1986 and added: “Sadly, very sadly, it’s gone but not forgotten.”

The memories just kept flowing, many about an outstanding nurse called Milly.

Ann Kirkup said: “Had my daughter here in 1984. They really looked after you. I’m sure the nurse that picked all the babies up and kissed them was called Milly. Best hospital and the best nursing care.”

Lorraine Wakefield said: “I can remember Milly, she was lovely x.” And Barbara Milburn agreed: “I remember Milly. She loved all the babies as if they were her own. Happy days x.”

Susan ‘Young’ Jobling said: “I was born there in 1965. My mam says they really looked after the mothers. My dad dropped her off. He wasn’t allowed to stay then rang later from the phone box to see if I was born!”

Joan Greenwell fondly recalled “the old midwife who used to dress the baby to come home and show them to all the other mams around the ward.”

Her comment got lots of replies – from people who reckoned that nurse was the same Milly who was mentioned earlier.

Fiona Andrews Thiruvannamalai told us: “Hubby’s an anesthetist and he would cover the hospital when we were dating! We’ve been married 35 years now and live in the States.”

Shirlie Shemmings said: “Spent a few years of my childhood there in the docs residence as my mam was going out with a gynaecologist. I used to wander the grounds and talk to the cows lol x.”

Carole Smith reminisced: My eldest son Neil was born there in 1977. You stayed in hospital 5 days then not 5 hours. Remember being taught how to fold and put on a terry nappy for a baby boy!!”

Anthea Rose commented: “Nothing better than seeing all those lovely white nappies pegged on the line and blowing in the wind.”

She added: “I had my daughter Charlotte Rose there in October 1972. You had to kiss your husband goodbye at the door and you never saw him again until visiting time. Night time was fathers only. Those days they kept you in for 10 days.”

Christine Dodds told us: “My son Neal was born here in 1978. Staff were second to none. Sat at a proper table for all of your meals with the rest of the mums. 5 days. It was like staying in a hotel. Never heard a bad word about this lovely hospital.”

We loved this story so much, we’ve more to tell – including details on some of the last babies ever born there.

There’s more next week.