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Normansfield: The Early Years 1868 to 1913. Part 5 Staff
It is well recorded that, from the outset in 1868 until her death in 1901, Mary, the wife of Dr John Langdon Down was responsible for the administration of Normansfield and much of the correspondence with parents, guardians, etc. Dr John Langdon Down acted as medical director while simultaneously conducting a Harley Street practice. Reginald Langdon Down took over as medical director on the death of his father in 1896 assisted by his brother, Percival. Reginald’s wife subsequently became closely involved with the administration.
The engagement of senior staff is recorded in the Staff Record Book (1898 onwards), but details of their references and salaries are not entered. The following table shows a range of other staff positions and the amounts paid to them. Over the period 1898 to 1911, wages remained almost static. Indeed the pay of under gardeners, nurses and attendants remained at a constant level.
During 1898, 88 new employees were engaged of whom 31 left in the same year (12 dismissed). Of these, a further 20 left the next year (2 dismissed) after less than one year’s service. The reasons for dismissals were stated and indicate that standards of competence and behaviour were demanded.
Attendants were the male equivalents of nurses and both were what we would today term as carers as opposed to trained medical professionals. The records show that people employed as nurses came from a variety of unrelated working backgrounds. A high percentage of men recruited as attendants (and some other jobs) came following military service, a highly favoured source. The turnover of attendants, however, was comparatively high compared with that of nurses as many of the men taken on proved unsuitable. A degree of in-house training must have been required for both nurses and carers. The following typical rota for a nurse illustrates the long hours of work required, 7 days per week. The rotas do not indicate what time off work is given, but clearly continuous work of this nature without a break could not have been expected.
The policy at Normansfield was for patients to sleep in small groups to a room rather than in large dormitories to try to create a domestic type atmosphere for them. A nurse (for girls) or an attendant (for boys) slept in each bedroom with the patients. In addition, many other staff were provided with accommodation on site.
There is no record of staffing levels and staff disposition, but the census of 1901 – taken on 31st March of that year – lists those resident on site as follows:
Dr Reginald Langdon Down, wife and son
1 lady’s maid and 2 domestic servants
senior staff (“officers”):
Joseph Smith – Resident Medical Officer
1 pensioner (assistant matron retired)
2 governesses (teachers)
2 wardrobe keepers
1 attendants’ officer
40 attendants (18 male & 22 female i.e. nurses)
2 under gardeners
1 farm hand
30 domestic staff
The 1911 Census of those residing at Normansfield lists:
Dr Reginald Langdon Down, wife and two daughters
Joseph Smith – Resident Medical Officer
1 assistant matron
5 governesses (teachers)
27 domestic staff
In addition, the Staff Record Book indicates the employment of additional staff who did not reside on site.
HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY EVENT
Remembering Aktion T4
Monday 27 January 2020 | Museum open 2pm – 5pm
2.30pm Talk: Finding Ivy: From Belonging and alienation and back again
Speakers: Helen Atherton and Florian Schwanninger
The story of one victim of the Aktion T4 programme. Ivy was born in the UK and in 1930 went to live in an institution in Vienna. In the summer of 1940 she was killed at Hartheim castle near Linz. Different historical material has been used to tell Ivy’s story including photographs, church records, census reports and newspapers.
3.30pm Aktion T4: A documentary film
The Aktion T4 Nazi Euthanasia programme was responsible for the murder of approximately 275,000 people with learning disabilities.
In this 30 minute documentary film, Berge Kanikanian who has Down’s syndrome, travels to Poland and Germany to visit the sites of euthanasia centres and speaks to researchers and historians.
Please note this talk and film is not suitable for anyone under 16 years of age.