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Providing district nurses for rural areas was in its infancy when the Sandbeck Nursing Association (SNA) was founded in 1902 by the Countess of Scarbrough. Intended for the ‘poorer classes’, the SNA appointed hospital-trained nurses to help recovery in people’s homes, especially nursing bread-winners back to health to prevent the home from being broken up, and assisting with childbirth. Some 12 villages were included in the SNA reaching from Loversall to Letwell, with Tickhill one of the largest of the communities served. By July 1903   Nurse Wasteneys was at work in Tickhill and a few weeks later Nurse Mangham took up her appointment in Maltby. In all, four permanent nurses were appointed (two based in Tickhill, one in Wadworth and one in Maltby).

The scheme was funded by annual subscriptions according to the wealth of the contributor. The breakdown of subscription payments throws light on the social divisions at the time.

Class 1  Labourers earning less than 1 a week                  2/- (10p)

Class 2  Artisans, gentlemen’s servants                               3/- (15p)

Class 3  Farmers and Trades people                                    5/- (25p)

Class 4  Gentry                                                                     10/- (50p)


Various fund raising efforts also contributed to the scheme such as a Garden Fete held at Wadworth Hall, home of the Rev J C Ross and family, on 3 September 1903. The Countess’s opening remarks were followed by two performances of a ‘Pastoral Play’, two indoor concerts, then dancing on the lawn during the evening. Just over 18 was raised for the fund. The event was reported in The British Journal of Nursing Sept 12, 1903, page 209:

‘The Countess of Scarbrough last week gave a garden party in the grounds of Wadworth Hall on behalf of the Sandbeck Nursing Association. In opening the proceedings the Countess said that the Sandbeck Nursing Association was begun a year ago, and, considering the difficulties which always occurred when something new was started in a country district, they might well be satisfied with what had been accomplished. They had decided to have nurses of their own trained, and having selected three suitable candidates they sent them up for training, and two of them had completed their course and were now nursing. She thanked the Hon. Sec. Mrs White, and hoped the Committee would not be discouraged if the scheme was not taken up keenly at first.’

The Journal then adds ‘The training given to the candidates selected must have been a remarkably short one if, as was stated, the Association was only started a year ago and two of the candidates have already finished their training and are at work!’ The standard period of training for a hospital nurse at that time was two years, hence the Journal’s rather critical tone, but the nurses’ training was not unduly brief for work in rural areas. Village nurses needed only one year’s training for hospital work, 3 months for midwifery and 3-6 months for district work, as determined by the Queen Victoria Jubilee Institute for Nurses founded in 1887. 

The SNA nurses were each provided with a chair-bed and a hamper containing among other things a bed-rest, spirit lamp and a thermometer. Subscribers had to pay for the conveyance of the nurse if all these accoutrements were needed, otherwise the nurses would travel round their district on bicycle. Between 1903 and 1910 the number of times per year the nurse was employed in Tickhill ranged from seven times to thirty times.

The type of ailments suffered by patients attended by the nurses across the SNA was listed in one annual report and included typhoid, scarlet fever, consumption, rupture, broken arm, paralysis and acute indigestion.  

A subscription list has survived for Tickhill from 1904 in the Lumley Archive showing that, in fact, less well off people did not join the scheme in any great numbers. The 1904 Tickhill subscribers were: Class 1: 3, Class 2: 3, Class 3: 4, Class 4: 6. In its eight years’ existence the scheme only attracted, at the most, 51 subscribers in Tickhill.         Expense might have been one reason for the modest number of subscribers. Apart from the subscription, a weekly fee was payable when the nurse was in attendance ranging from 3/- (15p) for Class 1 to 15/- (75p) for Class 4 scheme members. The fee was doubled for ‘infectious disorders’ and illnesses lasting more than six weeks.   

It was resolved to wind up the SNA at the end of 1910. The number of subscribers was falling, fewer donations were made and the scheme was less necessary after district nurses were ‘best suited to meet the needs of the neighbourhood’, according to the 1910 annual report of the Association. Fortunately for Tickhill there were perhaps fewer causes of ill health, ranging from contaminated water supplies to pollution, than in some areas. The Medical Officer of Health, employed by Tickhill Urban District Council, in one of his quarterly reports to the Council at the end of the 19th Century noted that there were far more people in Tickhill surviving beyond age 65 than in other districts.  

For copies of nursing journals see website

For Prof. Michael Warren’s A chronology of state medicine, public health, welfare and related services in Britain 1066-1999 see website 

Thanks are due to Lord Scarbrough for use of the Lumley Archive and to Hon Archivist Mrs Alice Rodgers
























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