Huthwaite Health Care

Founding Ambulance Brigades

Reported use of a company ambulance comes to light in 1895, when the New Hucknall Colliery conveyed a seriously injured Thomas Marshall to his Harper Lane home in Hucknall Huthwaite. Despite attendance by a Dr Hirwin, Thomas didn't recover from head injuries, only adding to a growing list of colliery fatalities.

Coal mining was by far our most dangerous industry, and New Hucknall company the biggest employer. Of their many community duties came introduction of emergency services. A horse drawn ambulance mainly returned workers for home care, otherwise it could barely speed patients requiring an uncomfortably long journey to the nearest Nottingham city hospital. But the company generously donated funds adding nearer Mansfield Hospitals, plus trainee safety classes following workers involvement into the urgency of first aid.

St John Ambulance Association

Britains industrial revolution presented many dangerous occupations. Saving lives of many injured workers with first aid and free medical care was one major aim at founding the St John Ambulance Brigade in 1877.

Welcome CafeA Sutton-in-Ashfield Division was instituted in 1901 based at St Modwen's Hall. Headquarters did however move into the Welcome Institute and Cafe on Brook Street, which was opened by the Duke of Portland on 8th December 1906. Subscribers for this temperance building included several local collieries and factory owners, plus business men and doctors. By year 1907 this Sutton division claimed 34 members, headed by Mr A H Bonser JP; Superintendent, Mr A E Wingrove; First Officer and Hon. Secretary, Mr C H Whetton; Treasurer, H J Frow and J. Wade as Sergeants, and Mr W H Slack; Inspector of Stores. The Hon. Surgeon was Dr Nesbitt JP and Instructor of Nursing Classes a Dr Mitchell.

Their main annual fund raising event continued to be fancy dress balls held in the Town Hall. Various charitable groups often added donations. One example is a 1932 Sutton Charity Cup Association, showing an itemised balance sheet with equal payments made to both a Men and Ladies section of the Sutton St John Ambulance, below awards also to a Sutton Nursing Association and Mansfield Hospitals.

Voluntary ambulance personnel obviously continue being recognised as a familiar presence at most local public gatherings. Reportage doesn't really highlight the cases that do arise when training and equipment best serves emergency. But like other standby services, their public profile was most often raised by the parades and promotional displays, as well as socially inviting various activities to secure further funding.

New Hucknall Colliery Ambulance Division

Because underground workers were the most susceptible to serious injuries; which often proved fatal, the Hucknall Huthwaite coal pit may well have supplied the first recognised type of ambulance carriage. While it gained reported use conveying some injured personnel to a Nottingham hospital, it seems not equipped or manned by any medically trained staff. Apparently most cases including severest, were simply returned to the comfort of home, before only then seeking the often forlorn attention of a private doctor or care nurse.

Forming the New Hucknall Ambulance Brigade was of course in the workers own interest. Whereas title did suggest they were company funded as an independent team, their attendance at the funeral of the former pit manager confirms this colliery division were actually volunteers who'd been trained and uniformed as members of the afore mentioned Sutton St John Division. Some would very likely have represented the earliest to join that Sutton Brigade upon being newly taught how first aid can really save lives of colleagues.

The Huthwaite colliery management continued to be seen as supporters of most good causes, including nearer Mansfield Hospitals. They did provide an updated motorised ambulance, although a 1932 request to assist in its funding was received by Urban Councillors. Rare example of that vehicle being called for public duty was at the 1937 Huthwaite Carnival. But even first hand attendance of the St John Ambulance Division had no chance assisting those involved when they witnessed that fatal aeroplane crash.

Ambulance Officer G. Rallings demonstrated first aid to youths involved in an Evening Mining Class hosted at the New Street Schools, whilst annual dances at the Drill Hall in the Newcastle Street Miners Institute helped fund the New Hucknall Ambulance Division. In 1933 they sought new uniforms. Maintaining a smart turnout was always demanded, especially so for performing an annual Church Parade. This public display took advantage from 1932 of rallying upon their new Huthwaite Road sports grounds. A reported attraction which notes this Colliery Division was not just confined to one Huthwaite pit. The New Hucknall Company actually owned New Hucknall, Bentinck, Welbeck and Annesley collieries, all jointly and proudly presented.

CWS Factory Ambulance Classes

A large CWS hosiery factory became the next biggest employer in Huthwaite. Although its not found ever boasting its own division or ambulance vehicle, they do appear classing employees in the practice of first aid. This finds mention from a 1932 Huthwaite wedding, where bridegroom is Mr Ralph Gelsthorpe. Noted not just as an employee, but also a member of other factory interests including Ambulance Classes.

Huthwaite St John Brigade

A 1935 Huthwaite charity football competition rallied local members 1955c Huthwaite St John1950s Huthwaite St John Outing of the St John Ambulance Brigade from both factory and colliery employees, under one team simply named Huthwaite Ambulance.

Mr John Nowell reveals two splendid photos dated circa 1955. Firstly showing uniformed and medalled ambulancemen of the Huthwaite St John Brigade, and secondly enjoying an outing to the Miners Camp for an Ingoldmells Holiday


Written 23 Sep 13 Revised 10 Aug 14 © by Gary Elliott