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Nayland with Wissington Conservation Society
 
David May Collection 3
Jane Walker & Wiston

 

The East Anglian Sanatorium was founded in 1901 By Dr Jane Walker, one of the early women medical pioneers and a strong supporter of the early feminist movement.  She had been to Germany and studied the new treatment for tuberculosis which consisted of rest, good food, plenty of fresh air, preferably cold fresh air, followed by carefully graded exercise.  A south facing situation, preferably on a sandy soil where pine trees would grow, was considered important, so she purchased Maltings, Sandpits and Rushbanks Farms to found the sanatorium.  The upper building, now Jane Walker Park, was a paying sanatorium, look at the seventh card to see a brief prospectus) and she used this to support Maltings Farm Sanatorium, founded in 1904, and the children's sanatorium, founded in 1912 where the patients were treated for minimal charges.

Although a cure for TB was not found until antibiotics arrived at the end of the second War, the open air treatment could put this disease into remission and many patients were able to return to normal lives although it was always liable to return.  Therefore many patients chose to remain near the sanatoriums, often working as nursing assistants, gardeners and domestic workers.  Of course there was a high death rate as Dr Walker did not select her patients because they were likely to be cured but did her best for all.

When the San, as it was known, was at its heyday between the Wars it dominated Wiston.  The Fox inn served as a drinking hole for doctors and visitors while the Pound House was a café and library for patients and houses around took in patients' visitors and lodges staff.  Dr Jane had some rather eccentric ideas.  She considered outside sanitation to be a good idea and there were small black sheds all over the place.  She also insisted that the children wore no shoes which must have been very cold in winter.

Dr Walker died in 1938 and without her driving energy the San fell into some financial difficulty and had to be taken under the care of the local authority until it was purchased by the British Legion in 1943 to treat mainly women.  Although it joined the NHS in 1948 the Legion continued to run it until the discovery of streptomycin, which finally cured TB, enabled all the sanatoriums in England to close in 1959.

The upper block became Jane Walker Hospital for those with learning difficulties while the lower block was sold off at auction in 1962 and became four private houses.  These postcards show the old sanatoriums in great detail and are a good record of what was a very valuable institution in its day.  

Please click on thumbnails to see the whole image and caption

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Jane Walker Hospital St Mary's Wiston St Mary's Wiston Radleys Lane Wiston
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