By Dot Long of Didcot and District Archaeological and Historical Society.

MY first article on Didcot Cottage Hospital was published in the Herald on September 29.

Since then, my knowledge of the early days of the hospital has been enhanced with feedback and telephone calls from people willing to share their memories.

It is very rewarding to know that the Heralding the Past column is being read and enjoyed and produces favourable comments from friends, relatives and new people who have moved into Didcot.

On reading the history of the hospital, my sister Joan recalled the following.

As a member of the St. John's Ambulance Brigade at the age of about 13 years she would put on her uniform and go to the hospital to clean out the sluices. The uniform sleeves were protected by white elasticated covers.

I was also a member of the St. John's Ambulance Brigade and gained my certificate in 1957 but I didn't do any sluice cleaning!

The back of the certificate states 'This certificate cannot be reckoned as a qualification towards the medallion of the St. John's Ambulance Association, nor accepted for membership of the St. John's Ambulance Brigade, but, in the case of Juveniles, will be accepted as qualification towards membership of a Cadet Division of the Brigade'.

A few years later Joan, who was a proficient pianist, would volunteer in a different way by entertaining the patients and staff by playing the piano, which was situated in the men's ward at the time, so everyone could enjoy some singing.

There were two separate wards, one for men and one for women and, at that time, there were 12 beds so presumably six beds in each ward.

As mentioned in my first article, the annual hospital fete was well-supported and very necessary for fundraising.

Some of the local shopkeepers would support the hospital by setting up a stall.

A photograph I found in the book Didcot Revisited, by Ken Caulkett, shows Cyril Moxon's fruit stall at the Didcot Carnival on the hospital field. Mentioned in the caption is a young John Rowland (another Herald history columnist), whose mother was Stella Rowland (nee Moxon). John later met and married my sister Joan and their knowledge and interest has helped me to put together this piece.

Also in the book are the photographs accompanying this article of the St. John's Ambulance Brigade taken outside the headquarters in Hagbourne Road.

I have since met up with Shirley, the daughter of Ron Stevenson – a prominent member of the St. John's – who told me that it was her original photograph that she gave to Ken Caulkett to use in his book.

Shirley and I used to play together as children in Kynaston Road... it's a small world!

Another popular attraction in the early days of the fete was the gymkhana which was held in Fleet Meadow (which is now a housing estate) and the Bosley's family public address system was used for the eagerly-awaited announcements of the winners.