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Voices of Stannington Sanatorium

In 2013 we ran our “Voices of Stannington Sanatorium” project. Stannington Sanatorium opened in 1907 and is significant in being the first sanatorium in the United Kingdom to treat tuberculous children. The Sanatorium was established by The Poor Children’s Holiday Association (now Children North East), the oldest independent children’s charity in the north-east of England.  The Sanatorium aimed to provide children with healthy food, fresh air and exercise and was very advanced, providing the latest equipment and using the latest techniques, and as a result of which it was able to achieve a very high success rate in prevention and cure.

In 1947 the Sanatorium formed part of the new National Health Service and continued to treat tuberculous patients until the mass availability of effective anti-biotic therapies, at which point the Sanatorium began to be used as a general children’s hospital. Stannington Children’s Hospital closed in 1984.

Before the introduction of antibiotic drugs patients spent many months in the Sanatorium and were separated from families for long periods of time. Therapy was largely the provision of healthy food, fresh air and exercise with some patients undertaking radical surgery.

Our project involved recording reminiscences of patients and staff of the Sanatorium during this early period.  In the course of making the recordings we borrowed and digitised papers and photographs from many of the interviewees. These items can be viewed in our online catalogue and the oral histories are available to listen to in the Audio Booth in our searchroom at Woodhorn.