Meet The Nurse at Bacup Nat

by Catherine Smyth Media

VISITORS got the chance to meet nurses and soldiers as the First World War came to life at Bacup Natural History Society’s Museum.

Volunteers at the museum, in Yorkshire Street, Bacup, secured Heritage Lottery money to convert an unused back room into a snapshot of the former Fern Hill Auxiliary Hospital in Stacksteads.

As part of the funding, special events were also arranged with a Meet the Tommy day in May and the Meet the Nurse day held on Saturday.

Visitors got the chance to talk to Matron Sutcliffe – historian Wendy Lord whose idea it was to create the diorama – several Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses, a patient ready to be discharged and soldiers.

Fern Hill was official opened in November last year, 100 years since the original hospital accepted its first patients.

As a result of all the extra attractions, the museum has seen an increase in visitors and an increase in membership.

The popularity of a Facebook group Bacup Past and Present has also boosted membership and encouraged discussion on the town’s history.

Wendy said: “The work we have done has brought children in and they have learnt all about the First World War and also about the domestic and industrial industry in Bacup.

“At Easter it was so busy here we couldn’t fit everybody in. On December 5 we will also be holding a 1940s make do and mend Christmas to tie in with Christmas activities in Bacup centre.”

Alec Knapper, 10, from Bacup, said: “I think the museum is very good because it has got lots of different things from the past and all the people here are very nice. You can always find someone who will tell you what things are.

“History is something I am into and I did a topic in Year 4 on the Second World War.”

The Nat is not standing still and discussions are already taking place about a further Heritage Lottery application.

Wendy said: “The Fern Hill room is now a permanent exhibition and it is here to stay but we have unused space behind the diorama. I would like to see that area developed into a Victorian shop and washday blues.

“I have also applied to the 1914.org for permission to show a film of The Somme next year for the anniversary.”

In total, 730 men were treated at Fern Hill and its extension at Acre Sunday School. The hospital finally closed in February 1919.

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