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Richard Burton Archives: Health and Medicine

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

Sources for Health and Medicine

Printed extract from report praising work of nurses.The Richard Burton Archives hold various collections from before and after the creation of the National Health Service that are of relevance to the history of medicine, health and various associated professions. These cover:

  • organisations, such as nursing associations
  • professional roles, including nursing and general practice
  • remedies, medicines and prescriptions

Entry from annual report and balance sheet for Clydach Nusing Association, 1931 (ref. LAC/92/R/6)

Voluntary / Subscription Organisations

Friendly and Medical Societies

Particularly prior to the creation of the National Health Service, friendly and medical societies were ways in which people could make provision for some health care provision and support. Individuals, usually men, could apply be admitted as members, and this could sometimes cover their spouses and families too. If they were admitted as members they would pay a regular contribution to the society, so that, if needed, they could later apply for support. The societies would have rules and regulations, some of which would make moral as well as medical decisions.

  • Bedlinog Medical Society minute book, 1912-1912 and 1920-1932, and agreements appointing medical attendants (ref. SWCC/MNA/PP/119)
  • Medical certificates from Bodwigiad - Cambrian Lodge of the Old Unity of Oddfellows, Hirwaun, 1927-1972 (ref. SWCC/MNA/NUM/I/7/17)
  • Particulars of sickness benefits for the Sibrwd Rhondda Lodge of the St David's Unity of Ivorites, 1892-1893 (ref. SWCC/MNA/NUM/I/34/98) 
  • Correspondence re sick benefit claims for the Glais Friendly Society of the St David's Unity of Ivorites, 1892-1893 (ref. SWCC/MNA/NUM/I/34/159-160) 

Trade Unions

The South Wales Miners' Federation, later the National Union of Mineworkers (South Wales Area), organised and supported different types of health provision including ambulances, nursing, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, including 'homes' at Porthcawl, Talygarn near Pontyclun and Bournemouth. Examples from the South Wales Coalfield Collection in the Archives include:

  • Financial papers relating to deductions for Coegnant Lodge Welfare Fund, 1967-1969 (ref. SWCC/MNA/NUM/L/23/60) and Coegnant Funeral and Ambulance Fund, 1967-1969 (ref. SWCC/MNA/NUM/L/23/62)
  • Correspondence re medical expenses, 1935-1938 (ref. SWCC/MNA/NUM/3/5/21)
  • Correspondence between Oakdale Navigation Lodge and miscellaneous hospital management committees regarding hospital facilities, and how they affect the miners at Oakdale, including a copy of proposals of the Welsh Hospital Board (1973) and a copy of the annual report of the Oakdale Workmen's Hospital (1939), 1939-1977 (ref. SWCC/MNC/NUM/L/94)
  • Photograph of miners and staff outside Court Royal Miners' Rest Home, Bournemouth, 1961 (ref. SWCC/PHO/NUM/6/2)

Exterior of large residential building.

Postcard of the north front of Talygarn Miners' Rest Home (ref. SWCC/PHO/NUM/6/11/2)

Talygarn Miners' Rest Home

In 1923 the South Wales Miners' Welfare Committee bought the house and grounds near Pontyclun from Wyndham Damar Clark, transforming it into a miners' convalescent home and later a rehabilitation centre for mineworkers. Items relating to Talygarn in the collections include:

  • A series of postcards with views of the south front, north front and the terrace; lounge; writing room and library; dining hall; conservatory; concert hall; main corridor; a painted ceiling; the Talygarn Anti-Pessimists (entertainers?), c1923 (ref. SWCC/PHO/NUM/6/11/2)
  • Caerau Lodge medical certificates for admission to Porthcawl and Talygarn rest homes, 1909-1933
  • Annual reports, surgeons' quarterly reports, management committee minutes, agendas and circulars and other papers used by David 'Dai' Francis (ref. SWCC/MNA/PP/35/24-33) as well as those kept by the National Union of Mineworkers (South Wales Area) (ref. SWCC/MNA/NUM/3/5/32)
  • Register of patients, 1924-1936 (ref. SWCC/MNA/NUM/3/5/31)

Nursing and Nursing Associations

The Archives holds a variety of items relating to nursing throughout the collections. As well as material relating to nursing associations, there are a significant number of photographs in the Raissa Page Collection relating to hospitals, nursing staff and doctors within the section relating to physical health.

Nursing Associations

  • Contribution card belonging to H W Currie for the Abercynon and Ynysboeth District Nursing Association, 20th century (ref. SWCC/MNA/PP/9/4/1)
  • Clydach Nursing Association annual report and balance sheet, 1931 (ref. LAC/92/R/6)

Henry Leyshon Collection (ref. LAC/64)

Mr Henry Leyshon of Swansea was a committee member of the East Side District Nursing Association 1906-1912. The association was founded in 1905 when the first district nurse took up her duties. Henry Leyshon was later Chairman of the Association, 1913-1919, and Honorary Treasurer, 1914-1940. The collection includes:

  • East Side District Nursing Association annual reports and accounts, 1905-1940 (except 1923) (ref. LAC/64/7)
  • A summary of work done by district nurses in Swansea's East Side, 1905-1935 (ref. LAC/64/8)

Remedies, medicines and prescriptions

Archives can reveal much about remedies and medication used in the past. These can be as part of the records of pharmacists and other medical practitioners as well as non-medical records such as church and household papers:

  • Report book of Dr J Roberts of Picton Villa, Swansea, physician, of medical examinations for insurance purposes and notes of medical prescriptions, c1898-1920 (ref. LAC/125/12)
  • Pharmaceutical notebook, c.1875 (ref. LAC/6/6)
  • Parchment bound note-book containing hymns, devotional essays, medical prescriptions and other items, c1808-1813 (ref. LAC/99/H/1)
  • Remedy for piles / haemorrhoids from a notebook of sermons, c1900 (ref. SWCC/MNC/PP/32/2)

Handwritten recipe for cold remedy.

'A much approved Recipe for a violent Cold' from the 'The Pennsylvania Town and Country-Man’s Almanack' for 1768 kept by William Dillwyn (ref. LAC/26/B/7)

Gallery of images

Cover of printed programme for opening of Swansea Hospital.

Order of service for the Opening Ceremony of Swansea New Hospital, 27 Oct 1869 (ref. LAC/17/1)

Printed order of service for the opening ceremony of Swansea New Hospital.

Order of service for the Opening Ceremony of Swansea New Hospital, 27 Oct 1869 (ref. LAC/17/1)

Printed silk playbill advertising theatrical performance.

Ebley’s Olympic Theatre playbill, April 1892 (Ref. LAC/106/E/22)

Printed leaflet.

Industrial Health Education Society ‘Health Hints to Miners’ (ref. SWCC/MNC/17)

Illuminated dedication to Nurse James.

Illuminated dedication to Nurse James on her resignation in 1922, after almost 20 years' service, by the workmen at Llanbradach Collieries and Coke Works

Cover of printed report and accounts.

East Side District Nursing Association, report and accounts for 1910 (ref. LAC/64/7)

Printed rules.

East Side District Nursing Association rules, 1910

Gallery - Raissa Page

Two women discussing diet in GPs surgery.

Photograph by Raissa Page of 'Surgery, Oxford "Health: discussing diet with patient as part of "health MOT".', 1987 (ref. DC3/28/1/8)

Photograph by Raissa Page. Protected by copyright. Not to be reproduced without permission, please contact Richard Burton Archives 

Male hospital porter and female nurse moving hospital bed with male patient.

Photograph by Raissa Page of "GB Hospital Porter", 1980s (ref. DC3/28/1/37)

Photograph by Raissa Page. Protected by copyright. Not to be reproduced without permission, please contact Richard Burton Archives 

Female GP talking with older male patient in his home.

Photograph by Raissa Page of "GP visiting pensioner (83) at home, Tower Hamlets" (ref. DC3/28/1/49)

Photograph by Raissa Page. Protected by copyright. Not to be reproduced without permission, please contact Richard Burton Archives 

Three female nurses.

Photograph by Raissa Page of nurses at Homerton Hospital (ref. DC3/28/1/29)

Photograph by Raissa Page. Protected by copyright. Not to be reproduced without permission, please contact Richard Burton Archives 

Doctors' marching and carrying banners during strike demonstration.

Photograph by Raissa Page of "Doctors strike demo Jerusalem 13.4.83" (ref. DC3/5/3/41)

Photograph by Raissa Page. Protected by copyright. Not to be reproduced without permission, please contact Richard Burton Archives 

General Practice

The employment and work of doctors, both pre- and post-creation of the National Health Service, can be found in the collections in the Archives:

  • Series of photographs taken by Raissa Page of GPs at work both in and outside of their surgeries (ref. DC3/28/1/4-12) 
  • Contribution card belonging to H W Currie for his doctor, Dr W R Thomas, Abercynon, 1937 (ref. SWCC/MNA/PP/9/4/2)
  • Agreement between Bedlinog Medical Committee and Dr E L N Hopkins which appoints Dr Hopkins as Medical Attendant to the employees fo Keen and Nettlefolds Ltd, 1908 (ref. SWCC/MNA/PP/119/3)
  • Visiting/treatment lists of Dr J M Wilson, in 1920 medical diaries, 1927-1928 (ref. SWCC/MNB/PP/67/13-14)
  • Letters re appointment of Dr H Thomas as R T Crawshay's medical attendant, with medical bills, 1878-1879 (ref. LAC/20/25)


Various types of record relating to named and unnamed hospitals in south Wales can be found in the collections:

  • Balance sheet for Powell Duffryn Workmen's Hospital, Aberbargoed, 1938 (ref. SWCC/MNA/NUM/I/32/1)
  • Financial records for Mountain Ash and Penrhiwceiber Hospital, 1925-1948 (ref. SWCC/MNB/I/7)
  • Order of service for the opening of Swansea New Hospital, 27 Oct 1869 (ref. LAC/15/1)
  • Silk playbills promoting performance of 'The Arabian Nights or A Day with Mother-in-Law' and 'A Dead Shot', and recitation for the benefit of the cottage hospital, 1906 (ref. LAC/106/E/16/1-2)
  • National Union of Mineworkers (South Wales Area), Tondu Artisans' Lodge hospital and ambulance fund donations account book, 1938-1963 (ref. SWCC/MNC/NUM/L/32/7)
  • Maesteg and District General Hospital annual reports, 1937, 1941 and 1944, in the Coegnant Lodge collection (ref. SWCC/MNA/NUM/L/23/160)

Coloured postcard of hospital with ornate framing.

Image of the hospital, Swansea, early 20th century (ref. SWCC/PHO/TOP/1/79/1)


Within the collections in the Archives there are documents relating to medicine and health overseas, particularly regarding the Spanish Civil War. Items include:

  • Circular appeal for donations for the new Stalingrad Hospital, in memory of the Welshmen who died in Spain, c.1944 (ref. SWCC/MNB/PP/6/1)
  • Photographs of a doctors' strike in Israel, 1983 (ref. DC3/5/3/41)
  • Loose sheets of miscellaneous newspaper cutting written by J Williams Hughes, with some relating to his experiences in the Spanish Civil War as a member of the Welsh Ambulance Unit, 1936-1937 (ref. SC/324)
  • Letters written by Douglas Hyde concerning Spanish Medical Aid and the Welsh Ambulance Fund, 1937 (ref. SC/751)


The Archives holds a variety of items relating to the provision and operation of ambulances throughout the collections. There are items relating to colliery ambulances, as well as rescue teams, St John ambulance and types of ambulance service.

Group of standing and seated men in ambulance uniform with list of names beneath.

St John Ambulance

  • Pontygwaith Division, St John's Ambulance Brigade, minute book, 1939-1949, miscellaneous correspondence 1944-1960, miscellaneous bills and receipts, 1944-1953 (ref. SWCC/MNB/I/12)
  • Contribution card belonging to H W Currie for the St John's Ambulance Service, 1948 (ref. SWCC/MNA/PP/9/4/6)
  • Photograph of the Crynant St John Ambulance team standing outside the Crynant Village Public Hall and Institute, 1939 (ref. SWCC/PHO/REC/2/61)

Sources at Swansea University

Miners' banner "Help in time of need": South Wales Miners' Library