Miss W.P. Solomon

Solomon squareMiss W. P. Solomon. Winifred Patience Solomon, 57, (1875-1958) was the Matron of Colindale Hospital, Hendon and a highly respected member of the nursing establishment.[1] The review in the British Journal of Nursing says it all: “… the kindly personality of the Matron, Miss W.P. Solomon; half an hour’s talk suffices to show that she is interested in every member of her staff, enthusiastic in her desire that they should gain all the expert knowledge for the acquirement of which the hospital provides such abundant material, and her sympathy with, and interest in her nurses obviously extend to their recreations as well as their professional work.”[2]

SEATED BESIDE

If we follow our proposed pattern she would have been seated beside her contemporary Dame Janet Campbell and one of the younger of the guests, Miss Gross or Miss Blunt. She and Dame Campbell may have exchanged views of Australians as patients, Dame Campbell having been “lent” to Australia in 1929 and Winifred having nursed Australian soldiers during the war.  Then again, Dr . Helen Campbell, our new contender for the seat, would also have made interesting company.

WHAT’S ON HER MIND?

The character reference above suggests she is thinking about someone else rather than about herself.

WINIFRED’S STORY SO FAR

Winifred was born in the village of Tonge, near Sittingbourne, Kent, in on 1st October 1875, (baptised 27th October), the sole daughter of Kent farmer Alexander Solomon and his wife Susanna Fletcher, daughter of a coal merchant – Winifred had four brothers, one older three younger.

Solomon2From an early age Winnifred had 2 n’s in her name (see her 1885 sampler) but later changed to the single n.[3]

oakham school (2)
Ockham School

Winifred was educated at Ockham School, Kingsley, Alton, Hants – a boarding school also attended by her brothers. In fact the first co-educational boarding school in the country.

She trained for her life’s work at University College Hospital, London (Cert 1899-1902) and in 1901 she was living at 113 Gower Street London, a Hospital Sister.

Metropolitan Board testimonial

Testimonial Letter Metropolitan Asylums Board 10. April 1922[4]

1906: Sister in the Infectious Fever Hospital Service of the Metropolitan Asylums Board at the South Western Hospital, Landor Road, Stockwell (today the rebuilt Lambeth Hospital).

1912: Promotion to Superintendent of Night Nurses

1913: Promotion to Home Sister, then 2nd Assistant Matron

1914: First Assistant at Northern Hospital until war broke out.

War OfficeTerritorial Force Nurses Service On 17th August 1914. just a fortnight after war was declared, Winifred joined the Territorial Force Nursing Service, Sister at 4th London General Hospital; 1915 Assistant Matron; 1917-19 Matron.  She left the Territorial Force on 21st July 1919.

Royal Red Cross 1st ClassOn 14th November 1917 Assistant Matron Winifred was at Buckingham Palace to receive her Royal Red Cross medal, First Class, for serving in the Civil Nursing Service.[5]

After demobilisation, Winifred returned to her post at the Northern Hospital.

  

header-orchard
Orchard Military Hospital[6]
In April 1921 Winifred was transferred to the River Hospitals, promoted to Acting Matron at the Orchard Hospital (600 beds) and in 1922 at the neighbouring  Joyce Green Hospital, Dartford, Kent.  The latter, now demolished, was built as an isolation hospital to replace 3 fever ships moored in the Thames Estuary.[7] It was opened in 1903 – in 1918 it housed 1140 Russian refugees thought to have been in contact with smallpox and in 1926 electricity was installed – possibly when Winifred was there. Because the need for beds fluctuated with demand, there was no full time position for a matron, but this meant Winifred was responsible for all aspects of opening and closing a hospital.  [An experience that would be valuable a century later!]

Australian MedalMany Australian soldiers were treated at the Orchard, hence the Medal (shown here) awarded to Winifred by the Australians in 1919.

In 1923 Winifred was appointed Matron of the 349 bed Colindale Tuberculosis Hospital in Hendon where she stayed until retirement, sometime between 1940 and 1943, during WW2.  It would seem Winifred lived above the shop, so to speak, her address also being the Colindale.  In the 1939 census it was an address she shared with another 292 people – staff and patients of course.

WP Solomon and Staff

British College of Nurses
The British College of Nurses[4]
Winifred was first listed as a registered nurse on 21st April 1922 (the date was later adjusted to 22nd of July) – being the year that the first list of nurses was made by the new General Nursing Councils – these were changing times. She was a member of the R.R.C. (Royal Red Cross) and in 1931 she represented the Matrons’ Council of Great Britain at the AGM of the National Council of Nurses of Great Britain.[8]

WHAT WINIFRED DID NEXT

League of Fever Nurses
League of Fever Nurses[4]
In 1934 Winifred was Vice President of the Matron’s Council of Great Britain and Ireland; in 1935 onwards she was the President of the League of Fever Nurses[9]; in 1936 she passed the examination on First Aid in Chemical Warfare (a sign of the times)[10]; in May 1937 she chaired the League of Fever Nurses’s AGM at Plaistow Fever Hospital, London E13 (another Thames side site reflecting the fever ship history)[11]; in August 1937 she co-hosted the reception for delegates  at the International Congress of Fever Nurses, at the Edward VII Room, Hotel Victoria, Northumberland Avenue, WC1.[12]; and in 1938 she became a member of the Executive Committee of the National Council of Nurses of Great Britain.[13]  In the records she was always referred to as simply Miss W.P. Solomon – perhaps a Matron with the name of Patience was to be avoided, though a fitting description.

solomon square with dogThe puppy in the photos was one of the doctors’ eight Dandie Dinmont terriers, a Scottish breed.

On retirement she moved to Winchcombe in Gloucestershire, in 1943 living at Manor Farm, Stanley Pont Large, in 1946 at Gretton Hill Farm, Gretton.

Winifred died on 6th July 1958 when living at Flat 18, Bouverie House, West Folkestone, Kent, her estate in the hands of her brother Edward, also a farmer. 

anzac day (2)

In Australia on ANZAC Day, 2017 Winifred was remembered by her family and the local forces club.

With many thanks to Mrs Pat Carruthers, great niece of Winifred, now living in Australia, for providing mementos and memories of Winifred’s career, and to Judy Ward of the Macksville ex-Services Club, Macksville, NSW, Australia for all her help.

BACK TO TABLE 16


[1] Miss Solomon, Hutchinson’s Woman’s Who’s Who 1934, Hutchinson & Co. London.

[2] The Hospital World : Colindale Hospital, Hendon, The British Journal of Nursing September 1928 page 234

[3] Image source from Ancestry, bought in an auction in Adelaide Australia in early 2019.

[4] Photographs and memorabilia provided with grateful thanks to Winifred’s family. 

[5] British Journal of Nursing , 24.11.1917 p332 

[6] Dartford Hospital Histories website, accessed 29.7.2020

[7] Joyce Green Hospital  wikipedia, accessed 29.7.2020

[8] AGM of National Council of Nurses of Great Britain, British Journal of Nursing, Vol. 79 December 1931 p331

[9] Annual Meeting of the Grand Council of the National Council of Nurses, British Journal of Nursing, Vol. 83 December 1935 p322 

[10] British College of Nurses, Passing of examination on First Aid in Chemical Warfare, British Journal of Nursing, Vol. 84 March 1936 p64 

[11] AGM of the League of Fever Nurses, British Journal of Nursing, Vol. 85 May 1937 p131

[12] Reception by Joint Fever Nurses Association at the International Congress of Fever Nurses, British Journal of Nursing, Vol. 85 August 1937 p209

[13 Executive Committee Report, British Journal of Nursing, Vol. 86 November 1938 p294.

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