1964 Our first house – 36 The View, Alwoodley, Leeds
Early February 1964, Ann visited Cardiff to see her father, Vivian Phillips, who was dying with terminal lung cancer. Around that time she started with morning sickness and it soon became apparent that we had been “blessed early” in our marriage. It was soon confirmed by Miss Lister, the obstetrician at the Leeds Maternity Hospital, that Ann was due to have a baby in August.
It did not seem very satisfactory to have a new baby in a rather gloomy top floor flat in my mother’s house in Roundhay, so we decided to look for a house of our own.
Fortunately, Ann’s Auntie Muriel Search had many friends in Alwoodley (a suburb in north Leeds where the Search family lived). Fortunately one of Muriel’s friends was in the process of selling a very pleasant small three bedroom detached house at 36 The View, Alwoodley. Thanks to Auntie Muriel’s influence, her friend was prepared to sell us the house for £3,600; she also left us the carpets and the cooker. For the deposit we used all of Ann’s £360 savings.
So we moved into our first house in 1964. The house at 36 The View has been modified considerably over the years by new owners and a garage and extra bedroom built over the drive area. We considered ourselves lucky and were forever grateful to Auntie Muriel – who incidentally also was responsible for our securing our next house at 42 The Mount, Alwoodley!
So new marriage, new house, new jobs for both of us and a new baby on the way – quite a lot to take on board! However, then and subsequently, we both seem to have taken events as they come and dealt the best we could with the situations as they presented themselves. I still had to become familiar with my new role as Lecturer in Paediatrics in Prof. Craig’s Department and Ann had to start running a house as well as being pregnant.
Ann went into labour at 2.00 am one morning. Susan was only 32 weeks gestation (i.e. 8 weeks early) but fortunately she was a good size at 5lbs 2ozs. I was out at one of the hospitals dealing with a problem and just made it back home in time to take Ann to the Leeds Maternity Hospital in the Triumph Herald – it’s final journey with us. Susan was born at 5.00 am 3 hours later.
So although Sue was very immature there were no major complications apart from moderate jaundice. She was cared for in the Special Care Baby Unit at the Leeds Maternity Hospital (LMH) under the expert supervision of Prof. Craig and Sister Pattullo. Sue returned home after 4 weeks on August 1st – her due date having been the 15th. Ann said Sue never cried properly until the 15th August – the day she was due!! Ann had visited her daily on the LMH and provided breast milk both for Sue and also for a pair of twins who were in the Special Care Unit at the time.
There are not many pictures for the rest of 1964 as we seem to have been fully occupied in our new roles of husband and wife, new parents and settling into our new home! I don’t even remember which camera I had at the time. I think it was one I inherited from my brother Douglas.
Grandma Phillips, both then and subsequently, was a great help and stayed for a few weeks after Sue came home. At one month Sue still required feeds every 3 hours day and night. She vomited frequently and breast feeding was only continued for another 2 months or so as she needed topping up with SMA. At that time we didn’t appreciate that infants could be allergic to cows’ milk, the protein of which could even transfer from the mother’s circulation into the breast milk. As “intelligence is learning by experience”, I subsequently wrote several papers on milk and food allergy in children!
My new job as Lecturer in Paediatrics with Professor Craig was very busy and I was expected to go round the wards with him most Sundays. Also I was still on a steep learning curve with regard to paediatrics.(further information in Sixties section)
December 28th 1964. Susan was christened at St John’s, Moortown
We were fortunate that our house at 36 The View had a small but very pleasant and fertile back garden and soon we acquired a greenhouse (which I assembled from a kit believe it or not!).
We grew tomatoes also various vegetables at the end of the garden. Uncle Clifford Walker gave us our first tomato plants. They grew well and seemed healthy but we waited in vain for the tomatoes to go red – they never did and he told us later that they were in fact a yellow variety of tomato!
We had a quiet domestic life then – in fact we had neither the time, energy nor the money to do much else! Grandma Skilbeck and Auntie Rose came to us for lunch most Sundays. Grandma Phillips and Eli moved from Cardiff to a nearby house in Alwoodley in 1965. Grandma Phillips proved to be an absolute godsend and helped us a great deal with Sue and subsequently with the other children.
Ann’s youngest sister, Eli, came to Alwoodley before Grandma moved to Leeds to start school and stayed with Muriel and Bill Search at their house nearby on Alwoodley Lane. In the picture, taken June 29th 1965 Eli is in school uniform in our back garden with Sue, who is now a year old. A healthy crop of tomatoes in the small greenhouse and various other vegetables can be seen in the background.
Holidays at Filey in my brother’s holiday home
The only holiday we managed in 1965 was in Doug and Pat’s holiday cottage in Filey. Over the years they had a series of holiday homes in Filey – at least three that I remember. Doug and their two boys, John and Richard, were keen weekend sailors in their Osprey boat at the Filey Sailing Club. On occasion we were at their cottage near the church in Filey, but more often we would be in Filey in late autumn or even the winter when our children, who were not yet at school, would be seen digging on the beach in anoraks and boots.
We rarely went away anywhere as so many families do today as we could not afford to (I think my salary as a lecturer in paediatrics was around £2000 pa) – so we spent much time in the garden. Also we shouldered much of the responsibility for Grandma Skilbeck and Auntie Rose whom we usually entertained at weekends. My brother Doug and his wife Pat were usually away at Filey most week ends sailing with their boys John and Richard.
More recently Sarah remembers these early holidays in a lovely poem she wrote for our Golden Wedding Book.
“October holidays in Filey
Fish and chips with a fork made of wood
Candy floss wispy and fresh from the pan
Keeping warm with a jumper and hood” !!!
In our own house at 36 The View we had an additional window put in the back wall of the kitchen overlooking the garden so there was a pleasant view of the garden from the kitchen; also the children could be observed.
Sarah Jane arrived on Sunday October 9th 1966
In October there was a new addition to the family – Sarah Jane. Sarah was a generally placid cheerful infant described as “easy”
She gained weight rapidly in contrast to her elder sister Sue, where vomiting had been a problem and weight gain had been a struggle. For example Sarah weighed 17.5 lb. at the age of 5.5 months – the same as Sue weighed at a year.
July 1967 Sarah Jane was christened
Grandma Phillips with her three daughters and two grand daughters
July 5th 1968. We move to ‘Four Winds’, 42 The Mount, Alwoodley
We moved the short distance from 36 The View to our next house – Four Winds, 42, The Mount in Alwoodley on July 5th 1968 (the new house usually referred to thereafter as “42, The Mount”).
As had occurred with our first house, 42 the Mount belonged to another friend of Auntie Muriel’s, a Mrs Vynall, and she sold it to us for a very reasonable £7,600. With the help of Ann’s cousin, Roger Search, we decorated the house throughout before we moved in. There was no central heating but there were electric night storage heaters which we eventually replaced with standard gas central heating. But it was a wonderful house with an excellent large garden for the children.
We had the garage converted into a study
My first NHS consultant post in Leeds – 1968
In 1968 I moved from the University Department of Paediatrics and Child Health to the National Health Service. In those early days my job as an NHS consultant paediatrician consisted of a regular weekly outpatients at the Leeds General Infirmary (I shouldn’t work there said my “friendly” Irish consultant colleague Ian Forsythe as I was only a “regional board” paediatrician!), weekly outpatient sessions at Seacroft Hospital, St James’s University Hospital, Otley General Hospital and St Mary’s Maternity Hospital, Bramley; also responsibility for paediatric beds at Seacroft, St James, Otley General and responsibility for neonatal paediatric care of the 3000 newborns born at St Marys Maternity Hospital Bramley each year, also babies at Four Gables Maternity Home Horsforth and the small Maternity Home in Ilkley. In addition there were domiciliary visits to see ill children in their own homes at the request of their family doctors. Also there was one session each week of private practice on Friday afternoons in Clarendon Road, Leeds. Also I was on call for all the hospitals mentioned and available for domiciliary visits all the time – I recall once performing five exchange transfusions for haemolytic disease of the newborn at St Mary’s in one weekend! On the Monday morning, after this part ocular personal tour de force, a notoriously miserable senior pathologist phoned to ask if I would tell my junior staff to avoid sending so many blood specimens to the laboratory over the weekend. As I had no junior staff there – I put him in the picture in no uncertain terms!
But believe it or not, despite this ridiculous huge workload by present day standards, I was happy and really enjoyed my work – also I was very grateful to have obtained a consultant paediatric appointment in my home city, Leeds, even if not at the Leeds General Infirmary, the main teaching hospital. I did have a base in St James’s University Hospital which expanded steadily over the years. Also it was great to be one’s own boss at last!
Undoubtedly Ann and our young family adapted to this lifestyle and were a great support – it was all we knew and they accepted this was to be our way of life. We were happy and settling into our new house. Auntie Muriel and Uncle Bill Search lived only quarter of a mile away on Alwoodley Lane and Grandma Phillips, who had now moved to Leeds lived in a semi-detached house only a few hundred yards away in Mount Rise. Grandma Phillips was a really kind person and was a great help to Ann who was left with the main task of looking after the girls and running the house as well as organising my modest private practice and our other financial affaires.
In addition to all her other responsibilities Ann typed my MD thesis on an old typewriter of Uncle Bill’s – no computers or word processors in those days, not even photocopiers – just top copy and carbon copies. Mistakes had to be blanked out with white Tipex. I called in so frequently for more Tipex to a stationers in Leeds near the Infirmary that the assistant asked if we were drinking the stuff!!
In those days it was accepted that often a doctor’s life and that of his family was like that – heavily orientated towards work. It was to be expected that when one entered the medical profession one’s work would take high priority over most things other than the immediate family’s wellbeing. Very different from more recent times. As one elderly doctor put it, “medicine is a life not a job” and involves the whole family.
So by the end of 1968 we had two lovely daughters, a really nice house with supportive family nearby. I now had a permanent NHS consultant paediatric job in Leeds for life – meaning we would not have to move away from Leeds.
March 1969 – Doctor of Medicine degree awarded
My MD thesis was entitled – “Urinary tract infection in the newborn with special reference to variations in symptomatology and prognosis”.
It was the result of much hard practical work over many months when I went down to the Leeds Maternity Hospital every morning before work and personally microscoped and cultured the newborn infant urine specimens that the midwives had kindly collected for me over the previous 24 hours.
The study confirmed my suspicion that some newborns had transient urinary infections possibly as part of a general bacteraemia. I proved this finding was genuine by obtaining urine specimens by supra pubic bladder aspiration which was a new technique at the time. I can still recall seeing the first turbid (infected) urine entering the syringe the first time I performed this procedure (with some trepidation!), then seeing the millions of motile bacteria and pus cells when I examined the specimen under the microscope. Sorry, I’m getting carried away with memories!! The study formed the basis of four publications and also of my MD thesis.
There were no further major events during the Sixties BUT there will be one next year as Ann is pregnant and Katie is due to arrive on May 30th 1970