October 24, 2021

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Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre patients watch clowns at annual fete

Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre patients watch clowns at annual fete
Clowns entertain patients and visitors at the Wingfield fete at Headington in 1951 Patients at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford were fully involved in the hospital’s annual fete. Staff opened the ward doors and pushed them out into the open air so that they could enjoy the festivities with everyone else. This picture was…

Clowns entertain patients and visitors at the Wingfield fete at Headington in 1951

Clowns entertain patients and visitors at the Wingfield fete at Headington in 1951

Patients at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford were fully involved in the hospital’s annual fete.

Staff opened the ward doors and pushed them out into the open air so that they could enjoy the festivities with everyone else.

This picture was taken in August 1951 as families and friends gathered round the beds and joined in laughter at the antics of a couple of clowns.

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Doctors believed that fresh air helped patients to recover from illness and they were often pushed out of the wards, even in cold and wintry weather.

The hospital, which celebrates its 150th anniversary next year, was originally called the Wingfield, after being funded by Hannah Wingfield.

She gave £1,500 in memory of her husband to create a convalescent centre for patients who had been treated at the Radcliffe Infirmary.

It appears she was unhappy with a smoky city centre site, so she decided it should be built on a vacant plot at the corner of Windmill Road and Old Road at Headington.

It opened in 1872, but by 1929, it badly needed rebuilding. William Morris, creator of the Cowley car industry and later Lord Nuffield, stepped forward.

He gave £70,000 to build new nurses’ quarters, seven new wards and a massage department. It was renamed the Wingfield-Morris Orthopaedic Hospital in 1930.

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Seven years later, thanks to another donation by the then Lord Nuffield, Professor Gathorne Girdlestone became the first Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery attached to the hospital.

It was renamed the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in 1950, although for several years afterwards, the ‘Wingfield fete’ remained a popular date in the Oxford calendar.

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