During the first half of the 20th century, and very likely into the 1950s and 60s, many residents at the Royal Albert carried out everyday cleaning tasks. As the century wore on these jobs would have been done by paid domestic staff.
Recorded at a Lancaster College of Adult Education reminiscence group on March 4th 1988, Frank Cochrane and James Leach remember hospital cleaning work carried out by residents during the regime of Matron Wareing (1962 – 1972). However, the memories of cleaning steps probably relate to what had been going on for decades before the 1960s.
(Sue Cowgill, a Royal Albert Social Worker at the time, is asking the questions.)
Frank: Everywhere was highly polished, you could see your face… And when you was walking along the corridor you could see your own shadow. Lovely it was.
SC: But all that bump – All the work with the bumpers eh?
Frank: Ah yes. And then when they got machines like – and then as soon as they got them she (Mrs Wareing) come and asked me if I’d like to use electric machines. Mind you she had to have permission first off Committee. At first they didn’t agree with it, at first. Then a few weeks after there was four of the porters left and that made them short like so and she asked the Committee again and they granted it… Scrubbing machines.
SC: Well it must have saved a lot of sore knees and elbows.
Frank: Oh aye.
James: Aye it would.
Frank: Get up at half past six at morning – buckets out! Scrubbers out!
James: Mops out! Everything out!…
Frank: On your hands and knees –
James: Scrubbing, aye –
Frank: Somebody walking up and down all the time.
James: All the time, can’t keep still, when you’re scrubbing steps up and down.
Frank: How things have changed though? There’s lots of people won’t believe me.
SC and NI: We do!!
James: Used to do Welch steps scrubbing up and down.
Frank: You know them front entrance steps, used to have to scrub them twice a day right from top to bottom. Twice a day when Mrs Wareing was there.
James: Twice a day.
SC: And in those days was that when only the staff used them.…
Frank: Yes. They weren’t allowed – (not) one patient allowed in the front entrance, not one. They daren’t go through the main entrance like they do now, in and out.
SC: … Those staff must have had very dirty feet if it needed scrubbing twice a day.