It’s lovely that the Call The Midwife series is back again! We’re avid viewers. At the start of this series they had reached the harsh winter of 1962/63. I reckon the cold that winter explains why I was always cold as a child – I think I never properly thawed out!
I have mentioned before how I like to listen to podcasts, and recently I listed to one from The National Archives podcast series. It was a talk given back in 2016 but is still available on their website at http://media.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php/heidi-thomas-researching-call-midwife/ . The talk was by Heidi Thomas, who is the producer of Call The Midwife. In it she gives really interesting background on how the popular series came about. The original memoirs of Jennifer Worth gave enough material for the first one and a half series and subsequently they have continued in the same vein, but it is all most carefully researched. A practising midwife gives advice on the various delivery complications and medical conditions and is always close at hand when a newborn is on set. They have prosthetic babies, bumps and umbilical cords in a variety of skin tones too!
There is also great attention to detail on the music played (it must match the year if apparently being played on the radio) and on the food that appears on the tables. A large amount of viewer correspondence is generated by the china used at Nonnatus House – Royal Doulton Cascade. Heidi Thomas relates how the Irish Traveller community helped with the episode which focussed on issues within their own community at that time so that it was a true representation and I wonder whether they had similar help from Jewish advisers in the episode the other week.
In Granny’s 1937 diary there are many references to neighbours and friends, but one person was referred to as ‘Rushie’. It turns out that this was an affectionate name for Mrs Rush, the Community Midwife. She delivered my Mum and no doubt her older sister too. She had obviously become a dear friend by this stage: “the children and I went to see Rushie”, “took Granny round to see Rushie”, “sent postcard to Rushie”. But then on 8th September we read “dear Rushie passed Home”. Looking on Freebmd I discovered that Mary Rush, aged 75, died in the September quarter of 1937 in Croydon, which would mean she was born around 1862. Although there is a Midwives Roll 1904 – 1959 on Ancestry, I can’t find a likely entry for her and have not been able to identify her for certain in a census. Unfortunately that may be all I can find out about Rushie for now, but, like the midwives in the series, she was obviously a cherished member of the local community.
A 1930s midwife