Who remembers Brierton Hospital and the new matron who arrived with her Yorkshire terriers?

A 1964 Northern Daily Mail look at Pamela Cook, the new matron of Brierton Hospital
A 1964 Northern Daily Mail look at Pamela Cook, the new matron of Brierton Hospital

Pamela Cook arrived in Hartlepool with a determination to eradicate a serious disease which had plagued the town for centuries.

Yet soon after her arrival in 1964, she had fallen in love with Hartlepool and set about making a difference to people who were in “the autumn of their lives.”

Miss Pamela Cook, matron at Brierton Hospital in West Hartlepool

Miss Pamela Cook, matron at Brierton Hospital in West Hartlepool

Today, we look at the matron of the West Hartlepool Brierton Hospital who endeared herself to the 76 patients with her cheeriness and cool efficiency.

Yet it all started far away from Hartlepool. Miss Cook was born in the West Country and went to boarding school in Surrey.

In 1964, when the Northern Daily Mail focused on her life, she was 34 and told how her life could have taken a different turn if she had got into teacher training college.

She didn’t and chose nursing as an alternative. It was a fine choice and she never looked back.

Soon after her arrival in 1964, she had fallen in love with Hartlepool and set about making a difference to people who were in the autumn of their lives.

Northern Daily Mail reporter, 1964

She began her training as a State Registered Nurse at the Royal East Sussex Hospital in Hastings after spending almost a year as an uncertified teacher in a junior and infants school.

After her training, she joined the staff at Exmouth Cottage Hospital as a night sister.

She spent a year there before going on to Stoke Mandeville Hospital for a year, and then headed for Southampton Chest Hospital where she began training in chest ailments.

After periods as a ward at Chelmsford and Barnet General, she headed to North Middlesex where she worked as an administrative home sister but that was her last appointment before coming to the North East.

Brierton was her next stop as it catered for the two areas of health that she really loved - chest problems and geriatrics.

And while tuberculosis was still in existence, it had largely been eradicated since the days the Brierton hospital was built in the 1930s specially to deal with it.

It meant Pamela could concentrate on giving geriatric care to the hospital’s women patients who were aged 60 to 90.

“From Miss Cook and her fully trained staff,” said the Northern Daily Mail at the time, “the elderly receive specialised treatment, and the companionship they most need in the autumn of their lives.”

Miss Cook was joined at her Hartlepool flat by her cousin Lynn Galilee and three “adorable” Yorkshire terriers called Lindy Lou, Beau Beau and Shagrine.

Our article of 1964 read: “The hospitality of Northern people has impressed the new matron and her cousin who have been quick to adopt the Hartlepools as their new home.”

But who can tell us more about the woman who came to Hartlepool to make a difference to the town’s health and immediately endeared herself to dozens of people.

Did you receive care from her, or perhaps you worked with her.

Get in touch and tell us more. We would love to hear from you.

Contact Chris Cordner on (0191) 5017473 or email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk