A few weeks ago, I cleaned up a couple of photos that mum had in one of her albums. Below one of pictures, she had written in red ink, “Hopefield Hospital 1956.” I had never heard of this hospital. On further research, it turned out to be a small hospital just outside Portrush.
Mum’s family had lived in Portrush for a time (before moving to Moneymore). The hospital would have been less than a mile from their residence. It seems most likely that she took these two photos herself. In mid 1956, mum would have turned 17 years old. I can only guess as to the reason she was at Hopefield. By 1960, she was training to be a nurse in Belfast. But what would she have been doing at this small hospital in 1956. Was she sick, or perhaps she was visiting a friend who nursed there. I suspect, given the nature of the two photos, that she had a friend who worked there. The photos, taken from inside Hopefield and from the top floor, show a lineup of at least 12 nurses being presented to some undisclosed dignitary. You can just about see the top of the man’s head in one photo.
It’s 64 years ago, so probably nearly all of these people will have passed on. But I wonder if someone finding this web page, at some future date, will perhaps recognise their mother or grandmother. Or perhaps you remember this hospital. I would love to hear from you.
After a little more research, I came across a wonderful website by Len Blackwood. It’s well worth checking out. Len was a patient there in 1956. He says: “Hopefield Cottage Hospital was situated on the edge of Portrush. It was one of the many rural hospitals that performed minor operations and provided for the chronically sick. It enabled local patients to remain close to their families and the latter to avoid having to travel to a distant county facility. In the years before and after the 1939-45 war, few local people had a car. It was to Hopefield that I was taken when I was six years old, in 1953.”
One can tell from the images, that the hospital is situated in a rural area. Len says that the fields beside the hospital were part of a farm owned by the Caldwells. These fields were what he looked upon during his short stay at Hopefield. He adds: “When I was young, during the summer season a small plane used to land on those fields, and for a fee the pilot used to fly tourists over Portrush, the Skerries and along the north coast.”
Glenvale Horse Races, Portrush
Easter Tuesday each year, was always a public holiday in Northern Ireland, and those fields belonging to the Caldwells were used for the Glenvale point-to-point horse races.
Len recalls that the races, every Easter Tuesday, were “a grand occasion and people drove, cycled or walked from a long way to be there. The venue was only a mile from our farm, so I often went too. It was exhilarating to be close to the horses as they galloped by, jumping the hurdles and hedges.
“Access to the Glenvale races was along a lane beside John Rainey’s house and past Caldwell´s farm. The entrance to the lane was off the Coleraine Road, opposite to the road that led into Glenmanus. In those days Glenmanus village was on the edge of Portrush and on the road to Coleraine were just fields and the occasional house and farm buildings.”
I had a look across old 1956 newspapers and came up with an advertisement and the subsequent race results for the Glenvale Point to Point races in 1956.
THE ROUTE HUNT
will be held at
On Easter Tuesday,
APRIL 3rd, 1956.
1st Race at 2.30 p.m.
Tea Tent on Course
Londonderry Sentinel, 31st March 1956
Local media subsequently reported that “there was a large attendance at the annual point-to-point races promoted by the Route Hunt Club at Glenvale, Portrush, yesterday.”
Three riders were hurt at that 1956 Easter Tuesday point-to-point meeting in Portrush.
Mr. S. Patton, who had won the third race on a horse called Fair Gale, fell in the fourth race and suffered a broken collar bone.
Two other riders in the very same race were also injured, namely Mr. M. Lafferty, of Strabane and Mr. J. Blaney. Both men were admitted to hospital (presumably the nearby Hopefield Cottage Hospital).
The results of the five races were as follows:
Hunt Cup: 1) Mr. R. Mairs’ Mountain Foot II (owner); 2) Mrs. S. Henry’s Je Reviens (ridden by Mr. K. Wood); 3) Mr. H. Dick’s All Medals (ridden by Mr. J. Agnew). Winner won by three lengths. 3 horses ran.
Second Race: 1) Mr. J. Grieves’ Whiteway’s Pride (ridden by Mr. F. Fitzsimmons); 2) Mrs. A. McClelland’s Solar Lady (ridden by Mr. G. Dunwoody); and 3) Mr. J. Bamber’s Notsobad (ridden by Dr. M. Bamber). Winner won by three lengths. 5 horses ran.
Portrush Chase: 1) Miss M. Lawson’s Fair Gale (ridden by Mr. S. Patton); 2) Mr. H. Porter’s Delaware (ridden by Mr. G. Taylor); 3) Mr. W. Boomer’s Belaye II (ridden by Mr. W. E. Rooney). Winner won by three lengths. 4 horses ran.
Portstewart Chase: 1) Mr. R. Kelsey’s Bannon Lass (ridden by Mr. W. E. Rooney). 1: Mr. T. Walls’ Dery Castle (ridden by the owner); 3) Mr. I. Sherrard’s Your More (ridden by Mr. M. Bryson). Winner won by three lengths. 16 horses ran.
Farmers’ Maiden Chase: 1) Mr. C Hayes’ Fethernagh (ridden by the owner); 2) Mr. W. Coulter’s Lizzie Lasher (ridden by Mr. M. Bryson); 3) Mr. W. Esler’s Mary Mangan (ridden by the owner). Winner won by three lengths. 12 horses ran.