20 March 2021 ·

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With the growth of the town, it soon became apparent that a Medical Officer for Barry was desperately needed. There was one appointed on a part time basis, but he already had his own practice and as the town grew, it was obvious that more was needed.

The very first Medical Officer appointed was Dr George Neale in July 1888.

Dr George Neale

The first hospital in Barry was based in High Street. Dr George Neale was the surgeon. In 1989 this hospital closed and two rooms in Princes Street were used instead.

The population of the town at this time was ten thousand five hundred. Dr Neale gave his first report to the Local Board in February 1890. The report stated that infant mortality in the town was one hundred and sixty eight per thousand children. Eighty one of these deaths took place in Cadoxton, and Dr Neale gave the cause of death as improper food and clothes. His report also states that in 1888, there were seven thousand people living in Cadoxton and living conditions were terrible. He warned that there could be an outbreak of infectious disorders at any time. There were badly constructed drains that emptied into cesspools which were then emptied into the brook that surrounded the town. He also noted that there was a terrible stench coming from the brook, that was particularly bad in the summer months.

His report also stated that public highways were narrow and dirty and private streets were in a terrible state. He attributed the high numbers of people who had respiratory problems to the living conditions.

in 1888 by-laws were introduced regarding the “good government” of the town and notices were displayed warning people about throwing their slop water into the streets. In April 1889, the Local Board agreed to spend £23,000 on a comprehensive drainage system for the town.

As people were throwing their dirt and excretions into the brooks and causing disease and offence, an Inspector of Nuisances was appointed in 1891. He was instructed to place disinfectant powder in the Cadoxton Brook. Cholera was raging through towns and cities at this time, so steps had to be taken to prevent it from entering the Port of Barry. Dr Neale kept his eye on the ships that entered the docks. He boarded any ship that had cases of sickness on and carried out inspections. There was a tugboat available at all times ready to tow a ship away from Barry, if Dr Neale requested this.

Cardiff and Barry Authorities jointly agreed in 1895 to build a hospital on Flat Holm, specifically for patients with Cholera, Yellow Fever or Plague. The next step was an Isolation Hospital to cope with infectious diseases. This was based in the Colcot area of Barry.

The first fever hospital was in a wooden hut that was built near the eastern end of No.2 Dock. It had three wards and enough room for ten patients.

Newspaper Clipping

In 1907 it became law that a parent had to notify the Public Health Authority as soon as a baby had been born. This then enabled trained nurses to offer advice and services to aid the mother, and ensure the baby was healthy. As soon as the mother was able, she was invited to bring her baby to the nearest centre to get free advice from a doctor regarding her health and that of the babies. Advice and support was also now available for expectant mothers. Dr Neale arranged with the Local Nursing Authority to visit the homes of babies five times during their first year and for them to keep records of the babies progress.

Nursing Fund 1902

A further clinic was opened in Cross Street. This was so mothers could get advice and support regarding their babies. In 1930 an Antenatal clinic opened. They were held once a fortnight in 1930 and by 1943 they were held twice weekly. In 1947 they were held three times a week and five hundred and ninety pregnant mums attended.

The Nursing Home on Woodlands Road was set aside for maternity cases. During 1947 there were one hundred and ninety six births at this home.

Woodlands Road Nursing Home – Glamorgan Archives

The first Municipal Accident and Surgical Hospital opened in 1895 at 34 Kingsland Crescent. This had six beds and opened for patients in April 1895. The first nurse here was Sister Amy Evans. Number 36 Kingsland Crescent was added a few years later. Due to the massive influx of men working on the docks, accidents were inevitable and prior to this hospital opening, all patients were taken to Cardiff Royal Infirmary to be treated. This was really difficult, particularly in the night if no trains were running. Unfortunately, delays receiving treatment meant that many people died. However, by March 1900, the council deemed the hospital to be insufficient and closed it. This was replaced by a larger new hospital. This was built in 1908 on Wyndham Street and was a General Accident and Surgical Hospital. It had twenty seven beds and had the facilities for operations to be carried out.

Sister Amy Evans took over a large hotel in Holton Road after leaving her previous post following a dispute. She established a voluntary Hospital for the Destitute, Sick and Dying. This opened in April 1898 and had ten beds.

The Neale and Kent Hospital

This was previously a hospital for infectious diseases such as Scarlet Fever, whooping cough and Typhoid. The original infectious diseases hospital that was built on the docks in 1891 but was moved to this site with the hope that it would become a permanent hospital.

The UDC were granted a loan of just over £6,000 in order to build a a permanent hospital. In February 1899 it was reported that apart from still needing furniture the hospital was ready.

Dr Neale retired in 1914 and the new Medical Officer of Health was Percy Wheeler Kent. The Glamorgan County Council honoured both men by naming the hospital the Neale and Kent.

The Neale and Kent Hospital – Old Barry in Pictures

The hospital was dilapidated for many years before Barry Hospital was built there in the 1990s.

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