VALERIE Thorpe has been hunting details of distant and not so distant ancestors.
In her search she came across a close link with a woman featured in the Examiner this February, one ‘Nurse Hunt’, a well-known district nurse from Birkby.
“Nurse Hunt delivered most of my family’s children and my mother Emma Thompson nee Porter, used to go around with her, helping, though she wasn’t a qualified nurse, ” said Valerie.
“My grandparents Alice and George Porter were said to have had 21 children, who had children of their own, so Mrs Hunt would have had reason to know the Porter family very well.”
Nurse Hunt’s daughter, Roberta Walker, whose memories of Birkby, was Valerie’s contemporary.
“I would love to get in touch with her,” said Valerie. “If it prompts her memory, my family came up from Yarmouth in 1911 to operate the switchback and Hotchkiss rides at Hope Bank Pleasure Grounds, Honley.
“My uncle John was a fairground operator and was recruited by Hope Bank’s owner John Mellor to manage the pleasure grounds.”
Roberta’s parents were not originally local, either. “Dad and mum came to live in Huddersfield in the 1930s from Barrow in Furness. Dad had played rugby for Barrow in the 1920s/30s,” said Roberta.
“The expectant mothers used to come to our house for their ante-natal checks, and sometimes the patients’ doctor would also be in attendance.
“Mum would be seen on her bike riding to Fartown, Fixby, Sheepridge, Leeds Road or wherever to attend to her ladies and deliver the babies or she would catch the trolley bus to get there.
“The midwife had to be paid for her services, once one family saved up to pay for the new baby with farthings! I seemed to be spending those farthings for years at Murray’s shop!
“Eventually when the National Health Service began, she went to work at the old Huddersfield Royal Infirmary on the midwifery unit – it was then known as ‘the abnormal midwifery unit’ which meant it was for mothers who were expected to have difficult births.
“The other babies were born at St Luke’s, Princess Royal and Holme Valley. Sometimes though of course a mother who went in to labour at one of these other hospitals had to be transferred to the Royal Infirmary where the obstetrician was available.
“You can imagine in her 30 years of midwifery how many babies she brought into this world, and often under difficult circumstances.”
Valerie’s email address is email@example.com