Val Turner

Esk, Queensland, Australia

Thank you to Val Turner, formerly of Colinton, Edinburgh, and now living in Queensland, Australia for recalling some of her experiences as a child in Edinburgh.

Val wrote this note after spending three weeks recently in hospital in Queensland, Australia:

Royal Hospital for Sick Children



"I used to love seeing the nurses and sisters in their white starched uniforms, looking so lovely, cool and sterile.  It must have been very difficult for them, but with their black stockings and little red capes which they wore when going outside, I used to think, this is for me!!  But  then, when I was told of the bedpans, slops, and eternal hard work, it somehow wore off!!

Nowadays, they wear coloured blouses and shorts, and slacks in the winter, and we have to remember their first names, which makes it all so very friendly and lovely but a bit hard for the patients to remember so many names instead of calling 'Nurse or Sister' and of course with all the fellows turning to nursing, its all so different but very nice too.

The Ward

"I had my tonsils out, when I was young, in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, in Edinburgh.

I remember, as a small child in the Royal Children's Hospital, being in one bed in a row of perhaps 20 on one side of the ward and 20 on the other.

The nurses would sit at their desks in the middle and I remember at nights when all the lights were off, seeing the nurse sitting in a pool of light over her desk, with her head down, writing away.


I was always scared, away from home and my mother and sisters, and being in this very strange world of whiteness.  I remember visiting hours were once a week, on a Wednesday afternoon for 1 hour.

We were told if we started to cry an d carry on, our mothers wouldn't be able to come again, so I just sat in the little chairs and tables (the only signs of catering to children were these little chairs and tables) set out in the middle of the long ward) and didn't talk or even look at Mum is case I started to cry.


I had to eat porridge with salt.  I still hate porridge!!  But I realize that their 'was a war on' and the food was the best they could do and afford.


Another time in hospital I had pneumonia and spent the entire summer holidays from school out on the balcony, way up on the 5th or 6th floor.  I was in a 'cot', and when it rained they threw a tarp, over my 'cot'.

Children's Wards Today

These days, in Australia, the children's wards that I saw were  just beautiful, with all the characters from TV, superman etc. suspended from the ceilings, and the doctors and nurses wearing Batman and Superwoman outfits!!  Just wonderful, and  the children loved it.  They had hamburgers for lunch and the kid whom I was visiting with his mum, cried when we tried to get him to come home again!!!!

They were all sitting down at a table, kids with their broken legs, arms bandaged up to the hilt, sick children, sitting beside their stands with blood and other medicines trickling into them.  They were all having such a great time with a fully trained teacher, teaching them how to enamel jewellery to take home for their mums!!! How things have changed!!

Val Turner, Esk, Queensland, Australia:  April 8, 2008



Davy Turner

Craigmillar, Edinburgh

Thank you to Davy Turner for sending me a copy of one of the Visitors Cards used by the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in 1967.

Davy wrote

Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

Hospital Visiting Card  -  1967

"I came across this Hospital Visiting Card among some bits and bobs belonging to my late grandmother.  I have never seen these before.


    Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh  -  Visiting Card, 1967


    Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh  -  Visiting Card, 1967

Please click on the thumbnail images above to enlarge them.

Davy Turner, Craigmillar, Edinburgh:  December 10, 2009



Bob Henderson

Burdiehouse, Edinburgh

Bob Henderson wrote:

Hospital Visiting Cards

"I remember these hospital visiting cards, well.  I think we could do with going backwards in time and reintroducing these in the interests of discipline and hygiene."

Bob Henderson, Burdiehouse, Edinburgh:  December 11, 2009



Danny Callaghan

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Danny Callaghan wrote:

Hospital Visiting Cards

"I remember the hospital visiting cards.   Each patient was issued two, and rules generally where adhered to.   Friends and relatives used to have to swap the cards around.

Often, one person would be waiting outside to get the card from the leaving visitor.   The visiting hours were worse, I think, than at a prison - and only 30 minutes in an evening.

Two at the bed was rigorously ruled, and no sitting on the beds!   I am sure that children were not allowed."

Danny Callaghan, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland:  December 11, 2009


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