Senior Archivist Margaret Owen reveals that a fascinating report on local World War One Auxiliary Hospitals is preserved in Kendal Archive Centre

Stramongate Auxiliary Hospital, open between March 11, 1915, and May 31, 1919, was based in Kendal’s old Stramongate School.

It was categorised as a Primary Auxiliary Hospital and, as such, took in sick and wounded direct from hospital ships docked in Dover or Southampton and transported onwards by hospital train to Kendal Station.

The school was selected as an Auxiliary Hospital due to its location, being conveniently close to the railway station and other facilities.

In the case of some of the walking wounded, they could arrive in Kendal within 48 hours after being wounded in Flanders.

The more seriously wounded were also treated at the hospital, which had an operating theatre. Out of a total of 2,009 patients there were only seven deaths.

Medical staff and volunteers are all named in the report, as are those performing essential supporting roles, such as cook, cleaner, ward maid and so on.

A recent acquisition at the Archive Centre is a database of people serving at Stramongate Hospital and the other Auxiliary Hospitals of Cumberland and Westmorland.

Other Auxiliary Hospitals in our area include Calgarth Park at Windermere, Hyning at Milnthorpe (an annexe to Stramongate Hospital used and Underley at Kirkby Lonsdale, Red House at Appleby, Broad Leys Officers’ Hospital, Windermere, Barbon Cottage Hospital, Eggerslack at Grange-over-Sands, Fair View at Ulverston and Bleasdale at Silverdale.

Great emphasis was placed on ensuring as happy and healthy a convalescence as was possible at this difficult time and activities such as embroidery, knitting, basket making, painting, and amateur dramatics were all encouraged and supported by staff and volunteers.

Regular sales of work took place and money raised was shared between the workers and hospital funds.

Outdoor activities such as football were an option for those well enough to take part, as were fishing, rook and rabbit shooting and other activities.

Boating parties took place, where hospitals were near lakes. Wounded men received free cinema tickets, each hospital had a library, most had billiards tables, and all had at least one gramophone.

Most hospitals had pets; Stramongate had a pet dog named Spot. Inmates in other hospitals had pet lambs and donkeys etc.

The report also contains numerous photographs. And there is the autograph book of nurse Edith Bannerman, who served at Stramongate Auxilliary Hospital. This contains a mixture of ditties, sketches, cartoons, messages and signatures produced by wounded servicemen being treated at the hospital.

If anyone has documents relating to these hospitals or any other aspect of World War 1, the Archive Service would be delighted to hear about them.