We are very grateful to Marian Powell who will be giving a talk at The Spike on her life as a nurse. Marian started as a cadet nurse before commencing her training at the new Group Preliminary Training School (PTS) at St. Luke’s Hospital in October 1956, after a memorable interview with Matron Coyle!
On 6th November our research group visited St. Bartholomew’s Museum and the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret at St Thomas’s Hospital. Despite the constant rain and standing up all the way home on the train, the researchers maintain that it was a good day out! The visits provided plenty of food for thought and inspiration for the SLHHP exhibition in Spring 2014 and ideas will be discussed at the next research group meeting on 19th November. Pictured are Phil, Diana, Liz and Fred outside the Old Operating Theatre in Southwark -looking very cheery…. (note: the picture was taken before tackling the spiral stairs up to the garret and contemplating on surgery without anesthesia!)
In September 1962, I wonder if the editor of the hospital and social club magazine realised how important his hospital news column would be, 51 years later? It is there that we have just found confirmation of the very last day of the Spike operating as a casual ward!!
The Spike finally closed its doors on the 31st May 1962. As we know, it took on another life as a training centre for staff training and other purposes.
Freezing cold and hungry,
I’m tired and soaking wet.
Haven’t got a farthing,
I’ll take what I can get.
Heading into Guildford
I heard about the Spike.
Maybe I could stay there,
I think it’s quite a hike.
Breaking rocks to get a bite,
Even have a bath,
I could stay here overnight,
Even have a laugh.
The rules they say no swearing,
No fighting and no drink.
They wash the clothes you’re wearing,
Even if they stink.
I’ve seen the room I’ll sleep in,
It looks just like a cell.
Clarrie, will you marry me,
Now that I don’t smell?
– John Kelly 2013
Information about the Spike. The Guildford Spike was built in 1906 to provide shelter and food for casual workers and vagrants – the so called unworthy poor – for one night in thirty. In exchange, inmates completed tasks such as oakum production, stone breaking, and log chopping. It continued to run on the same site as the hospital until the 1960’s, when it was taken over to house hospital records, the maintenance workshop and administrative offices.
The Guildford Spike was saved from demolition by the local residents and turned into a heritage and community centre, with the aid of Heritage Lottery funding.
Today, the Spike is a thriving centre. The heritage centre is open Tuesdays and Saturdays for tours (10-4 pm) which gives a wonderful insights into lives of the unworthy poor during the early 20th century. Tours are also available on Wednesday by request. For more information, visit the Spike website.