We seem to take the NHS for granted these days, especially the ambulance service and the 999 system which will dispatch an emergency ambulance to reach you within the eight minute target time. Our ancestors didn’t have such a good service although we did have a doctor and nurse within the village. 

A one-man ambulance was purchased in 1909 at a cost of £16. 7s. 3d. It was manufactured by Carters Invalid Furniture Manufacturers of New Cavendish St, London. It was kept at the old fire station in the High Street and was used by the Fire Brigade and others. It was last used by Mr C Barnes and PC White in 1932 to remove a deceased person from outside the Co-Op stores in Station Road. 

This device was basically a canvas stretcher mounted on two large wheels with handles at front and back, with a collapsible pram type hood that protected the patient from the weather. Do come and see it in Henfield Museum. In 1933, Henfield had its own modern ambulance. A large car was converted by Mr Albert Brazier and crewed by the Henfield Division of the St John Ambulance. I

n 1934, the Henfield and District Ambulance Club was formed and for an annual subscription of 1s 6d the club provided a round the clock ambulance service for its members. In 1944, the Henfield Ambulance Club agreed to purchase, for the sum of £650, a purpose built two stretcher ambulance and for 30 years Henfield had a 24 hour, 7 days a week service. The 1947 Health Act made the Local Authority responsible for ambulance services and ‘our’ ambulance was transferred to Worthing in 1963. Up to 1963 Henfield ambulance had travelled 152,861 miles and was used for:       

5722 Stretcher cases 

915  Road accidents 

1336 Sitting cases 

STEVE ROBOTHAM (Assistant Curator, Henfield Museum)

Taken from the June 2017 edition of The Parish Magazine.
Read more stories like this by subscribing to the Parish Magazine for just £6 per year.