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During the War

Broad Leys Officers’ Hospital

During WW1 Broad Leys was one of the many country houses used as an Auxiliary Hospital – as an annexe to the Fusehill Hospital in Carlisle –  and one of four in Westmorland, the others being Calgarth Park, Stramongate and Red House.
Helen Currer-Briggs funded and organised the use of Broad Leys and became Matron-in-Charge, receiving an MBE in recognition of her work.

Broad Leys Officers’ Hospital opened on 7 May 1917 with 12 beds, increasing to 26 beds. Over a 19 month period as many as 150 injured officers were cared for and there were no deaths. It eventually closed on 10 Dec 1918.

Wartime Nurse Helen Currer-Briggs
Nurses of Broad Leys wartime officers hospital

There is a record of who worked here;  Dr. W.D.Chapman (Medical Officer) the Rev. Eustace Nurse (Minister), Mr. R. Marriott (Hon. Treasurer), Arthur Dixon (assistant quartermaster) and Mrs. Yates (linen store keeper).  In addition there were eleven trained nurses, eight VADs [Voluntary Aid Detachment], and five nurse helpers, who were all volunteers from the local area.  Most were unmarried.

We are fortunate to have photographic evidence of the entertainment provided, such as fancy-dress parties for the Officers during their recuperation.  Unfortunately although there are no available records of who was treated here, we do know the names of two of them…

Helen’s elder son, Lieutenant Reginald Martin Briggs of the Royal Field Artillery, who had “shell shock” and gas poisoning, but recovered sufficiently to return to the family colliery business in 1917.  He later married one of the nurses here.

Captain Thomas Garibaldi Farini of the Northumberland Fusiliers was wounded by shrapnel on 30 July 1917.  He must have grown to respect and admire Helen Briggs during his stay, as she became godmother to his daughter Ann in 1928.

Visit the Bathrooms
Beatrix at Broad Leys
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