The Children of Craign y Nos
Dr Carole Reeves
Dr Carole Reeves teaches History of Medicine at UCL.
Craig-y-Nos Castle in South Wales was a tuberculosis sanatorium for children and young adults from the 1920s to the 1950s. It was only with the discovery of the antibiotic, Streptomycin, in the mid-1940s that this disease ceased to be so dangerous. In December 2006 Carole and Ann Shaw, an ex-patient, began a project to collect the memories and photographs of the people who had been patients there. Over a hundred stories and 1200 photographs have been collected and these formed the basis of a book funded by a Heritage Lottery grant and co-edited by Carole.
"My father was married twice. His first wife died of TB at twenty-eight years of age, leaving him with two children. My elder sister had TB when she was twelve and she was in another sanatorium. My cousin living next door died of TB meningitis. I was admitted to Craig-y-nos as a four year-old in 1937. I was in an all male ward but it was not all children. It had two areas. One was raised. That's where the iron lungs were. I think there were about half a dozen. They were big, at least six foot in length. The only part of the person you could see was the head. It was like a box with a man's head on it. These machines helped "extreme" patients to breath. Very few patients came down from the platform alive" Haydn Harris
The Project today
Today, the ex-patients keep the project going in the community but it has now achieved international recognition as the world's only collective account of life in a TB sanatorium. The community has now been given space in the castle to develop a permanent exhibition for which Carole is beginning the process of applying for funding to renovate the space.
There are also people interested in making a film of
The Children of Craign y Nos.