“Children as young as two were sent to Leeds hospital to treat TB” - Do you remember The Hollies?

The Hollies.
The Hollies.
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Dr David Cundall is researching The Hollies and would like to hear from any people who remember being there as a child.

“Walk the Meanwood Valley Trail in Leeds and you will come across the gardens below the Hollies, a Victorian mansion.

Venture a little further up the hill to Weetwood Lane and you will find the memorial plaque for Major Harold Brown who died in the 1914-18 war.

This tragedy led to the Brown family donating The Hollies to the city’s Council in 1921.

But not many people know that from 1925, for most of the next 40 years, The Hollies was used to look after children at risk in a much longer war between humanity and tuberculosis, a conflict that continues to this day.

The Hollies was a ‘sanatorium school’ or ‘preventorium’ where children who were at risk of developing TB were admitted.

I used to work as a paediatrician in Leeds and have had a special interest in TB ever since I caught it myself at the age of 27. My treatment was easy and lasted six months.

We sometimes forget that it was not until the late 1950s that effective drugs were found to treat TB.

Before then, TB was often a death sentence. The idea of a preventorium was that children from households where one of the adults had ‘open’ TB could be sent to a boarding school where they would receive good food, plenty of fresh air and sunlight so they could fight off any early TB disease.

In the 1930s, Dr Norman Tattersall, the Medical Officer for TB in Leeds had become a national expert on preventoria, having written an article about similar institutions he had visited in North America.

He was a conscientious visitor to the school at the Hollies and was commended for his work by Dr Muriel Bywaters, the Chief Inspector of Tuberculosis Schools for the Ministry of Education between 1929 and 1945.

Her reports make fascinating reading, with detailed comments on the diet (she thought they could do with more fruit and salad) and the handicrafts, as well as the quality of the education.

Many of the children were very young and in her report from 1938, Dr Bywaters noted that 22 of the 39 children were aged between two and six.

She gave some advice about furniture, teaching methods and materials for such young children. During the Second World War the school moved temporarily to Meanwood Park and, briefly, to Embsay before returning to The Hollies after the end of the war.

Now retired, I would like to find out more about what life was like for the children in the Sanatorium School at the Hollies.

I am sure that some of the older readers of the YEP will have been there as children. If you, or one of your relatives, have any memories you would like to share, I would love to hear from you.”

To get in touch, email davidcundallwrites@gmail.com.