Sandra Evans


My Memories of Dolawen;      by Sandra Evans nee Griffiths

The 60’s was a time of free love, the beginning of youth culture as we know it now.For those of us living in Dolawen however things were a little different. We had to be in at 10.30, with a late pass was until 11pm, and only once a month after a visit to matron to explain why you needed it.

The training school was in the basement Mr Girlling, Mr Davies, Mr Hall and Sister Tutor M Williams.From the base of the stairs upwards it was an all-female environment, Dolawen called by some, the nunnery at the top of High Street.  Mrs Evans was the warden and she guarded us to the best of her ability

I first arrived at Dolawen in the spring of 1965 when I went with my mother and Hilary Denham for my interview; it was with Mr Girlling and some other members of the teaching team.  I met Margaret AnnJones now Williams from Mold and now lives in Llanfyllyn, she would be in my PTS. I think I was surprised and delighted to discover that I had been accepted.

I started PTS in January 1966, but before that I became a cadet in September 1965. At the time we lived in Abergele nurses home because of overcrowding. Life in Abergele was much more relaxed, there were men, if you didn’t get back for lights out someone would let you in, or there might be a window open somewhere. We travelled each day into Rhyl and then to Dolawen. We were in preliminary training for 3 months, 5 days a week. My PTS was made up of, Ann Jones, Hilary Denham, and Gaynor Jones [I was in school with Gaynor and was quite surprised when I heard” SANDRA GRIFFITHS! What are you doing here?”].There was Jackie Ellis, Glenys Griffiths, Gladys Lucas, Julie Perkins, and some more that I can’t remember. As the winter turned to spring, we’d spent our days learning about what it was to be a nurse; I think I thought at the time, I would have done the job for nothing.

One day the donkeys jingled their way down Church Street and as Rhyl spruced itself up for the Easter holiday season, were thought ready to go on to the wards.      

My first ward was ward 8 in Abergele hospital so it wasn’t until that summer that I moved down to live in Dolawen. At first I didn’t like it but I soon becameused to it. I shared a room for most of my time there with Hilary Denham and I’d like to think we became friends. The rooms were all very similar, two beds both withbrownish red bed covers, two dressing tables that could double up as a desk. And I think there was usually a chair or two.

Therewas a kitchen on the 1st floor and a laundry room on the 2nd floor I think, butI may have them the wrong way round. There was a large square central area onboth the 1st and 2nd floors, rooms went off this, there was also a corridor on the far right hand corner where the bathrooms and some more bedrooms were, and there were 3bathrooms to each floor which was usually enough. The constant unlimited hot water and central heating was for me, worth the lack of freedom  There was also an attic; Hillary and I found ourselves for a while when we did our second lot of nights, I think.

Down in the foyer there was a settee and at least one chair plus a coffee table and a table for our mail. Not the most upto date looking furniture but ok. At the far end was Mrs Evans‘s office and the room where the sewing machine was kept.To the right hand side were the stairs up, and the back stairs down to the dining room,[the back stairs also went up to the 2nd floor] and Mr. Girlling’s office. Mrs Evans also lived in and the door to her rooms was on the left after the seating area, I think. On the right hand side of the foyer was the sitting room, a large space with a bay window and many chairs and settees. The television was in this room and every Thursday we gathered if we were off duty to watch” Top of the Pops”, and then down to the disco. Great times.  After complaining that we needed morefacilities we got a radiogram. I didn’t have any records but others made good use of it.

Between the sitting room and the stairs was the table with the signing in book on it,just above and slightly to the side was the telephone. In a time pre mobile a very important piece of equipment, it kept us in touch with our families not to
mention making dates with boyfriends. It was common for the shout of “Sandra,
or whoever, phone!”

The domestic staff that looked after us [yes we were very well looked after] were all lovely. The kitchen staff gave us good wholesome food, unfortunaly I can’t remember any of their names. We had to make our own beds but otherwise we did little else, they even knocked us up, we were very pampered.

To end I remember it as generally a happy place to live but it was a bit like a girls boarding school which wouldn’t do these days.

If anyone else has memories about Dolawen, please get in touch.