Friday, 30 January 2015

Hospital Hub to include museum items

Budleigh Hospital Hub project development manager Rob Jones with a jar used for storing live leeches by 19th century doctors. Barts Hospital in London used 100,000 leeches annually to bleed patients

A Victorian surgeon’s set of instruments, cupping therapy equipment and  a leech jar are among the artefacts that could be on view for visitors to Budleigh Salterton’s new Health and Wellbeing Hospital Hub. But patients can rest assured that the items will remain in glass cabinets as medical curiosities.

If, like me, you tend to visit doctors’ surgeries and hospitals more often than you would like, the chances are you’ll wonder how our various ailments were treated in the past.  And how they’ll be dealt with in the years ahead. CT scans, hip replacements, robotic surgery and laser eye treatment would all seem miraculous to patients and doctors of just a century ago. As for genetic engineering, we can only dream of how diseases like cancer will be avoided in the future.

Budleigh Salterton’s Hospital on East Budleigh Road

Such is medical progress. And it’s an area which the planners of Budleigh Salterton’s new Health and Wellbeing Hub are keen to display for visitors to the transformed Community Hospital.  

Plans for the NHS-backed transformation were announced by Budleigh GP Rick Mejzner at the annual meeting of the Hospital’s League of Friends in July last year. The types of services which could be available in the new Hub include additional physiotherapy, podiatry, hospice services and audiology.

Clinics offering specialist healthcare for elderly patients will run alongside the day hospital and will be complemented by a respite centre, as well as other services run in partnership with charities such as Age Concern and the Alzheimer’s Society.

“The Hub will offer support, information and educational resources to people of all ages and backgrounds, with a focus on preventing illness at the earliest stages, says Hospital project development manager Rob Jones of Westbank Community Health and Care which is leading the project.

Architects David Wilson Associates have developed designs for the Hub, due to be opened in late summer 2015 following the start of building work in January. 


A 19th century Assistant Naval Surgeon’s Capital Set  in "a superior Brass-bound Mahogany Case, lined with Silk Velvet"  as described in the supplier's catalogue. It contains forceps, catheters, probes, knives, screw tourniquets, a tooth punch and a skull saw among other items. Manufactured by Evans & Wormull it was known as a  Capital Set because of the Capital Knife, used for amputations on board ship.

The saw would be used to sever the bone. The average amputation of a leg would take two and half minutes. 
Image courtesy of the Devon and Exeter Medical Society 

The idea for the displays of medical equipment from the past came about after visitors to Fairlynch Museum’s 2013 exhibition were shown items that the 19th century Budleigh physician Henry John Carter FRS might have used. 

“We’re keen to tell the story of the building of Budleigh Hospital and the way that medicine has developed over the centuries,” explains Rob Jones. “The Hospital Hub is extremely grateful to Professor David Radstone of the Devon and Exeter Medical Society which has built up a fantastic collection of fascinating items from the past that we’re being allowed to display.”   

On view in the new Hub will also be profiles of some of the eminent doctors who have lived in the Budleigh area, thanks to research by volunteers at Fairlynch Museum. 


Some local people know about Dr Thomas Brushfield, pictured above, who lived at The Cliff on Cliff Road in Budleigh and wrote about Sir Walter Ralegh and East Budleigh church. Not too many are aware that he was a pioneer in the treatment of the mentally ill in a more enlightened way.

Other notable medical experts from Budleigh’s past include the surgeon Marmaduke Sheild, who has a chair of pharmacology at Cambridge University named after him. 


Photo courtesy of the National Museum of the Royal Navy 

There is also Murray Levick, the naval medical officer  who settled in retirement on the outskirts of the town.  As the doctor and zoologist on the ill-fated Terra Nova Antarctic expedition of 1910-13 he was the subject of Fairlynch’s recent two-year exhibition about Captain Scott’s Northern Party.

Curiously, some of the Victorian items on display would be recognised by some medical practitioners today. In the 19th century, Barts Hospital in London used 100,000 leeches annually to bleed patients. The use of leeches in modern medicine made its comeback in the 1980s after years of decline, with the advent of microsurgeries, such as plastic and reconstructive surgeries.


Lady Gaga during the ArtRave Tour
Image credit Zlouiemark45546

And although most doctors would say that modern science has not found any benefits of cupping there are many supporters today of this most ancient of practices in Chinese medicine, including celebrities like Victoria Beckham, Paris Hilton, Lady Gaga, and even tennis ace Andy Murray.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

‘Wildlife photography and illustrations’

The Otter Valley Association and Fairlynch Museum are jointly presenting talks on Saturday 7 February in Budleigh Salterton’s Peter Hall by two distinguished experts who are noted for their stunning images of wildlife.

Photographer David Spears' talk is entitled 'Tiny Lives in Rivers and Estuaries.' David filmed with David Bellamy and David Attenborough on a number of projects before later setting up his own production company, Science Pictures.  

He uses various imaging tools including high-powered electron microscopes to illustrate the range of organisms that he finds interesting.  Two of his pictures are shown here. He will include brief descriptions of the methodology he uses, but more importantly, show images of organisms which form critical stages in the food chain that sustains the larger and more accessible and familiar animals living in the Otter.

Mike Langman, a full-time wildlife illustrator with a passion for birds will present ‘Make a note of it.’ 

Mike worked for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) at their headquarters in Bedfordshire, for nine years after he left art college in 1983. His bird illustrations can be seen in nearly every RSPB reserve His work has been published in over 50 books and regularly appears in the all of the UK’s birdwatching magazines. This is an interactive, informative talk on how to make field notes quickly and efficiently. Bring along a pencil and small notebook to join in the fun. We’ll even go on a ‘virtual’ field meeting to find a couple of rare birds to practise on!

The talks run from 10.00 am to 12.30 pm. Admission is £3.00 (£2.00 for OVA members and Friends of Fairlynch). 

Friday, 23 January 2015

A shared parking issue

Only a few months ago I ventured outside the Museum to write about a Budleigh Salterton parking problem. Essentially, as you may gather from my post,
East Devon District Council wants to charge motorists for what has been up until now a free car park. 

Not surprising, many local people are annoyed, especially as local landowner Lord Clinton’s family had bequeathed the car park to Budleigh Salterton’s old urban district council many years ago.

So, always on the look-out for the little joys and tribulations that we share with our US cousins in our sister-town of Brewster, I was struck by the annoyed tone of a letter written to the Editor of the Cape Cod Today newspaper.  

 There’s the same matter of a bequest from many years ago, and a similar accusation of ‘ingratitude’ and ‘betrayal’ – words that have been used to attack our East Devon District Council planners.

You can read the letter here

Elegy for the Rosemullion Hotel

Poor old Budleigh!  

Still smarting from Noel Coward’s stinging lines in his play 'Blithe Spirit' with that memory of an unhappy honeymoon in one of Budleigh Salterton’s grand hotels, where an eager young bride had to endure “potted palms, seven hours of every day on a damp golf-course and a three piece orchestra playing ‘Merry England.’”

I thought of Coward’s disappointed young bride, Elvira Condomine, when I saw this sign in Fairlynch Museum.  It’s one of the few existing reminders of one of Budleigh’s grandest hotels, where famous Victorians like the writer Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925) stayed to find peace and quiet after the turmoil of London.

Things have changed a bit of course, but just a few days ago a feature on the much-acclaimed TV adaptation of 'Wolf Hall' in the Western Morning News described its author as living in the “genteel resort of Budleigh Salterton.” 

That word ‘genteel’ made me feel uneasy. “Often used today in a somewhat mocking tone, as though good manners and elegance are passĂ©,” as an online dictionary has it.

“Still,” as the dictionary editor reflects, “it would be nice if more people were a little more genteel.”

Anyway, this is what I was inspired to write by that sign:

In Budleigh Salterton’s halcyon days,

When people wore top hats,

For its hotels it won much praise.

Now all you see is flats.

It’s true, I fear, that Coward’s play

Did raise some merry laughter;

And Budleigh’s reputation may

Have suffered ever after.

Yet notwithstanding Coward’s lines,

So full of bile and spite,

I’m sure the hotels served fine wines

And were a lovely sight.