A charity endowment run from Oswestry Guildhall Mr Richard Bill Smale (a retired Chemist) was born on 27 October 1830 and died on 18 March 1908. In his will dated 10 April 1908 he left his estate, 30,277 pounds 12 shillings 7 pence, (a huge sum of money worth around 2.5 million pounds in 2018) for the benefit of the deserving poor. This endowment was put under the Eure and Smale charity (which was then absorbed by the Town
Hall Charities Act 21 December 1979).
At the start of the War, the Smale’s Home Help Scheme was up and running. The committee had taken advice from Annie M Peterkin the acting General Superintendent of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Institute of Nurses. The charity was originally founded to organise the training of District Nurses. It was instrumental in developing a comprehensive, highly-skilled service to meet the healthcare needs of millions of people every year.
‘District nursing’ began in England in 1859 when William Rathbone, a Liverpool merchant, philanthropist and later an MP, employed Mary Robinson to nurse his wife at home during her final illness. After his wife’s death, he retained Mary Robinson’s services so that people in Liverpool who could not afford to pay for nursing would benefit from care in their own homes.
Nurses went into the home and nursed those who could not go into hospital as there was no room for them or they could not afford to pay for their care. These nurses were all married local women. They were paid well; 22 shillings per week. Dr Beresford, in his annual reports, noted the valuable work these nurses had done around the town. They did not deal with large numbers but covered a large range of illnesses, such as pneumonia, cancer, bronchitis, cardiac paralysis, phthisis, abscesses, gastroenteritis, broken leg, flu, etc and worked the whole day in the patient’s home.
Here are some of the nurses working on the Smale’s Home Helpers scheme:
Mrs Laura Price
Born 1870 at Sellattyn, Oswestry. In 1911 she was married to John Price, a labourer, and lived at 3 Hurdsman Street, Oswestry. She had been married 20 years and had 6 children, four living, whose ages ranged from 4 to 16 years old. In 1939 she was still living in Oswestry, at 71 York Street and was a widow. She died in 1963 aged 94 years old. She worked on the scheme from 1913 until the scheme closed. These were some of her cases:
Mrs Evans: 38 Gate Street, 2 children, both with Phthisis – pulmonary tuberculosis or similar progressive wasting disease.
Mrs Hughes: 3 Coronation Cottages, 9 children all with abscesses.
Mrs Carrington: 3 Oakhurst Road, described as aged, bronchitis.
Mrs E Barclay
Known as Minnie, she was born in 1883 and died in 1911. Married to Edward, a house painter, living at 71 Castle Street in Oswestry. They had 2 young children, 4 years and 5 months. Minnie worked on the scheme between 1912-13 and only had one case:
Mrs Roach: 67 Castle Street, internal illness.
Mrs Mary Ellen Pearce
Born in 1856 in Camberwell London. In 1911 she lived at 66 Salop Road, Oswestry. She had been married for 40 years and had 11 children – 10 living. She began working for Smales in 1912 and worked until the end of the scheme, on a large number of cases. She was still nursing in 1919 aged 64 years old. These were some of her cases:
Mrs Heath: 17 Edward Street, one child, with cancer.
Mrs Thomas: 14 Oswald Place. A widow. Dropsy.
Mrs Lumids: 8 Green Cottage, Castle Street. Her baby had pneumonia.
Mrs William Evans. 46 Upper Brook Street, described as aged with bronchitis.
Mrs Wood: 3 Lorne Street, bronchitis.
Mrs Pritchard: 46 Roft Street, aged with a broken leg.