Search This Blog

Friday, 16 September 2011

Gary’s Memories of the White House

We have been contacted by Gary McCormick, who was a patient for two years at The White House on the seafront in Milford on Sea.  Gary was eleven when he was admitted to the sanatorium (although everyone referred to it as a hospital).  He stayed for two years around 1958 and he was also joined by both his brother and sister, all were suffering from TB.  At that time The White House was for children only and treated TB, Asthma, and other bad chest infections.

He recalls that twice a week all the kids who could walk, went to the village with two nurses in charge.  Once there, they would buy sweets from the newsagents if they had any money.  This was followed by a walk to the Pleasure Gardens, where there was an old derelict house which the kids thought was haunted.

Monday night was Sea Scouts night.  Gary and his friend were the only two scout members from The White House, and Scoutmaster, Charles Anderson would travel each week from Everton to collect them.  In the summer of 1958 Charles Anderson took Gary and Graham Daw on a trip to the Isle of Wight with the local Sea Scout Troop.

The people Gary remembers who worked in the hospital were; the full time school teachers; Mrs Campbell for the seniors, Mrs Sims for the juniors and Mrs Potter looking after the infants.  On the nursing side was Sister Thomas, Staff Nurses Butt and Jordan, Nurses Crocker, Nunn, Scott and Reilly.  Staff Nurse Butt was the boys favourite, as she let them have her record player and Rock and Roll records on their ward.  Staff Nurse Jordan lodged with Mr Fisher, who looked after the hospital grounds and lived in a bungalow right next to the hospital.  There were two auxiliary workers Uncle Robbie (Robert Hewison) who came from Hordle and Uncle Ziggy who Gary believes was and ex German POW.  His wife Freda was a cook in the hospital kitchen.

Gary also recalls going on Hospital outings, such as to the circus in Highcliffe, and to a Christmas Pantomime at the Winter Gardens in Bournemouth.  Every few months they were sent for X-rays at Milford on Sea hospital and dental check-ups in Bournemouth.

Other than his brother, sister and Graham Daw, all of whom were also patients, Gary never saw any of the other kids again.  He knows that some fellow patients, Brian Golding, his twin brother and their sister, Jenifer all came from Sway, so perhaps they are still around locally.

Gary went on to spend two years at sea with the Cunard Line, before spending the rest of his working life in engineering. Today Gary lives in Chandlers Ford near Southampton.

Our thanks go to Gary for taking the time to share his vivid childhood memories and some delightful photographs from the time.

To see more of Gary’s photographs of his time at The White House, please click link below:


  1. I remember going carol singing at the White House, when I was a pupil at Milford primary school It was about 1970. As far as I remember, the children there, at that time, were severely handicapped. It was the only time we ever went in.

  2. Hi Gary, I was at The White House between 1959/1960 as a patient and I remember Ziggy very well and doing crafts in the classroom at the top of the building also happy memories of going crabbing with the nurses using bacon rind from the kitchen Elizabeth

  3. Hi, I was a TB patient at the White House in around 1961. I sent 7.5 months there including my 4th birthday, finally coming home on Christmas eve. I was there during the time of Nurse Cheetum and Sister Butt and I remember being in a large ward with big shutters over the windows. I think that there was a slide outside that we played on and I also remember going for xrays in a big ambulance. One of the other children on the ward used to jump up and down at the end of his cot shouting and we called him Terry I Want. I remember running along a long corridor and sliding under the beds in the ward at the end which seemed to be occupied by older people. The floors were polished wood and I got a splinter in my big toe and would only let Nurse Cheetum get it out.

  4. I visited Milford on sea yesterday 27/06/16. I was delighted to see the White House still looking magnificent and unspoilt. I was a resident there for a year over 1959/60 at the tender age of 7. I remember it with great fondness. We used to play in the grounds to the side and I saw my first adder (viper) nestling in a ditch. We called the gardener who promptly chased it away. We used to go for walks on the beach with the nurses and collect cuttlefish which we would take back to the classroom to carve and paint. We used to have lessons in the tower and I can still picture a large map of the world haging in the classroom. I remember making a clay easter chick as a present for my mum. It was in one of the outer buildings that sit right on the sea front. I think it was the left hand room as viewed from the house My dad would visit me each sunday. He would catch a bus from Southampton, Hants and Dorset was the company, green and cream buses. I would wait in the room at the top of the white house looking straight down the driveway waiting for him to appear then charge out to meet him. There was another boy who used to wait with me who never had visitors. my dad "adopted" him and I used to get quite jealous saying "he's not your dad he's my dad" I was sent there to help recover from acute asthma. In the year I was there I only had one asthma attack. When I returned home they became more frequent again.

  5. My brother Raymond was in The White House around 1958,he had TB.I remember visiting him with our Mum. We got the train from Basingstoke and then missed the bus connection to the White House at Milford, so had to walk, it felt like miles, and I was only a child myself at the time but I have never forgotten what a beautiful view by the sea it was. I have never been there since the years my brother was there, but I can remember it very clearly.
    I wonder now, if it was my brother (mentioned above) that didn't have any visitors, as my Mother and I wasn't able to visit him much due to finances!...I am sure he is in one of the pictures shown, but it is not very clear. I wonder if anyone remembers him??... I would love to hear from anyone who did, as He often spoke of fond memories of the time he spent there.