Hospital Bends the Rules

Story Courtesy of Eric Flavell ( My Leicester’s Diary)

John and Minnie Wakefield

John and Minnie Wakefield


A recent request for memories of the early years of Leicester General Hospital resulted in my meeting with Mr John Wakefield, of Countesthorpe. He was born in the lodge by the main entrance only two months after the hospital was officially opened in 1905. “My father, John Wakefield senior, later assisted by mother, was gate porter there. His service was at the North Evington Poor Law Infirmary, as the hospital was originally known, and, at the Leicester Workhouse, which it mainly originally served, totaled almost 40 years.” Mr Wakefield told me.

“In the early days, Matron rode out in a landau and the nurses not so fortunate. One of my parent’s jobs was to book the nurses out and back in the hospital complex. The book was carefully scrutinized by matron each morning and woe betide any one who was late getting back. On numerous occasions, father bent the rules and didn’t enter that they had been out late,” said Mr. Wakefield.

A strict check was also kept on patients’ visitors and a large notice displayed at the main gates (closed promptly at 6pm) laid down a number of rules, including no liquor being allowed to be taken in.”Each patient was allowed two visitors, who were issued with pink passes by mother. These had to be handed to a porter on the door in order to gain entrance to the wards,” he continued.

The hospital dispensary became quite a source of interest to young master Wakefield. He was occasionally allowed to visit there and watch the work being carried out. In adult life he became a qualified pharmacist, eventually having his own shop.

Mr Wakefield still has a number of carefully preserved mementoes of the yester year Leicester General. They include the diploma presented to his parents in recognition of long and loyal service when they retired in the 1930’s.


gatehouse at Leicester General Hospital

Gatehouse at Leicester General Hospital

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