Win Baldwin village nurse

This article by Win Baldwin, was first published by the Pirton Magazine circa 1960 and then again in December 2002 following her death, and provided courtesy of the magazine, the editor Derek Jarrett and David Baldwin (Nephew)


The Pirton District Nursing Association was run by a ladies committee and the amount charged was one penny per week for the family. When I first arrived in 1936 a bicycle was the means of transport and I covered Holwell, Ickleford and Hexton as well as Pirton. After about three months an Austin 7 was bequeathed to the district with the largest area to cover – and it came to Pirton. It was a load of trouble as it was worn out; however in 1939 Sir Patrick Cooper lent the sum of £140 for a new car to be bought.

Nursing care was given to the sick and elderly which included bathing and pressure points treated daily and if necessary twice daily. Midwifery patients were visited for ten days, then I would see the infants monthly for the first year and every three months the second year. Any problem cases I would transport to the Hitchin clinics. Schools were visited monthly for hygiene inspection and if any child was too verminous I would expel them for two days and instruct the parents to get them clean; this was rare in Pirton. When the 1939 War was declared pandemonium broke out. The evacuees arrived and nearly every one of them was lousy and had impetigo. This really was an eye opener to Pirton people. We spent days trying to get them reasonably clean.

Jumble sales were held quite often to raise money to pay me and run the car. Dr Wm Grellet was very supportive. He was greatly respected by all Pirton people but as he visited late afternoon I never knew when I could feel I had finished for the day. Where “Dr Willie” went sure enough he would find work for me. I had quite a few terrible journeys in snow, ice and fog. I always managed to get to the patient but not always back home and had to stay in Ickleford for two nights on one occasion as the roads were blocked with snow. However I survived to tell the tale.

I never looked forward to potato picking time because that meant the arrival of gypsies and there was quite often a birth imminent. The caravan would be placed across a couple of fields and one could be up to one’s knees in mud. Often they would wait until the woman had gone into labour and then try and get the caravan to the road. The problem then was getting water until eventually the farmer would send a tank full.

One girl whose name was Queen Victoria was taken very ill. It was getting dark when I was asked to go and see her. I left the car in the road and trudged down the muddy field, got back to the road to ‘phone the doctor – on his arrival the sparks flew! The farmer drove him down in a truck. They got stuck and I had to get a tractor to pull them out and then phone for the ambulance. The poor girl was pulled up the field on a trailer to the waiting ambulance. She was very ill for a few days but did recover. How times have changed, no pea picking no potato picking and we see very little of the harvest. I eventually finished up relieving Offley, Lilley, Tea Green, Bendish and Kings Walden – and even then Hitchin. If I was out all night I still had the day’s work to cope with and we did not get paid any extra no matter how many hours we worked. I cannot see that happening in today’s NHS.

Pirton resident Jane Ransom, who knew Nurse Baldwin well, wrote the following tribute:
I was so sorry to hear of Win’s death when we returned from Syria. She was a loved and respected member of the community who spent her working life and also her retirement in the village. She arrived newly qualified to take up her post as district nurse, and practised her profession with skill and kindness standing no nonsense from members of the medical profession whom she felt were not treating her patients properly.

She delivered many villagers, her first baby being Derek Cook’s brother, Peter, and her last my son Brough, although she was officially retired by then. I salute her skill, her integrity, her sense of humour and her courage in coping with a fractured hip which initially failed to unite. She brought comfort to many, and will be much missed.


This article by David Baldwin (nephew of Win Baldwin), was published by the Pirton Magazine in December 2002 following her death, and provided courtesy of the magazine, the editor Derek Jarrett and David Baldwin.

This month affectionate tribute is paid to


Win Baldwin’s nephew David from Guildford tells the details of her life;

Win was born at Poor’s Land Farm, Hastoe near Tring on 16th June 1913 the youngest of four. Her father was stockman on the farm.

In January 1931 she joined the nursing service at West Herts Hospital at a salary of £25 per annum. She did her midwifery training at Watford Maternity Hospital before coming to Pirton as District Nurse Midwife covering the villages of Pirton, Hexton, and Holwell & Ickleford. Her only means of transport was her bicycle. In 1937 the nursing association was left an Austin 7 for use by the district with the greatest distance to cover and was therefore given to Win.

Her first midwifery duty, after a few months at Pirton, was to deliver the 10th baby of a local gypsy woman. She subsequently delivered numbers 11,12 and 13 to this mother! These were in a caravan and she subsequently had occasion to deliver twins to a mother in a tent at Ramwerick Farm.

Midwifery was not her sole purpose in life. As District Nurse her duties were many and varied – from dressing scratches to dealing with more serious ailments. She used to dread the influx of potato pickers during the war years as this brought about an onslaught of head lice.

Following her retirement she continued by taking private nursing assignments and was able to devote more time to her love of gardening and walking her dog. She was also fond of travelling and enjoyed many holidays both in England and worldwide.

She is survived by her niece Peggy, daughter of her older sister and nephews David and Philip and niece Pamela, children of the younger of her two brothers.

This article by Bill Kitchiner, was published by the Pirton Magazine in February 2003 following her death, and provided courtesy of the magazine, the editor Derek Jarrett.

In an affectionate letter, Bill Kitchiner tells more about


On reading the last magazine I came to the tribute to Nurse Baldwin. I would like to pay my personal tribute to this great lady. I would also add some details to the feature, correcting one or two inaccuracies.

My mother and father lived at 3 Davis Crescent, Nurse Baldwin came to live in Pirton in the middle of July 1936 and moved next door to our family, at 2 Davis Crescent. Around 1939 the house addresses & numbers were changed; nos. 2 & 3 Davis Crescent became nos. 19 & 21 West Lane.

I can well remember the day when Nurse Baldwin and Nurse Win Baldwin, her mother arrived and walked up to the house; my a much loved Pirton mother made them a cup of tea and after that they figure for many years became good friends. At that time my mother was pregnant and every other day Nurse used to come in to make sure she was all right. My mother, who used to do pea picking in the field opposite, was doing just that on 29th August 1936 and at 11.00am Aunt Win who was also in the field, came home with Mum. She went next door to get the nurse, who came in and put Mum to bed. At 11:00am my brother Brian was born. Nurse was so pleased as it was the first baby she had delivered on her own and she always called him her ‘first son’.

Nurse Baldwin moved after about two years, to no. 31 West Lane. This was next door to the policeman as both services came under the control of the Herts County Council.

The gypsy in the article was one of those who were always working for John Lawton’s father at Ashcroft Farm in Holwell; they continued going to Mr Lawton for years.

Nurse Baldwin moved from 31 West Lane while I was away in the army. When I came back she was living in a new house at the corner of Royal Oak Lane (it was there that one of the photos in last month’s magazine was taken) In 1950 my wife came to live with my mum and dad in 21 West Lane as 1 was still in the army. Nurse Baldwin delivered my first daughter on Christmas Eve 1950 and my first son on 31st July 1955.

I am sure she will be truly missed by all the older generation of Pirton and the surrounding villages.

M W Kitchiner (Nurse always called me ‘Billy’)





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