Amidst the many hundreds of images of soldiers preparing to leave Doncaster for battle, this full length studio portrait of two young female domestic servants stands out as a reminder that ordinary life for many people continued as normal.
From the records kept by Luke Bagshaw, and the census returns of 1911, we believe it is possible to identify the women in the picture. The names of the sitters are recorded as Dodgson and Paddison, and in 1911, 15-year-old a Lilian Dodgson was working as a domestic servant for Rosa Whitehead, the manageress of Peniston and Co Drapers at 50, Market Place. There was only one family called Paddison living in Doncaster at this time, so the second servant is either Eve or Nora Paddison of Hexthorpe.
The War changed the lives of many of the country’s female domestic servants for ever. Many left their positions for work in the new munitions factories for better pay and the desire to contribute to the war effort. After the war, the number of women employed as domestic servants decreased dramatically. A much wider range of occupations were now available to women, which provided higher wages, better conditions and greater independence.
A Local Nurse
Mrs Jemima Rogers served as Assistant Quartermaster for the British Red Cross at the Arnold Auxiliary Hospital in Doncaster from 1916 until 1919. She was the widow of a local music teacher, and lived just a few doors away the hospital. The Quartermaster was responsible for accepting, storing and issuing of provisions such as food, clothing and bedding.
Auxiliary hospitals were temporary convalescent homes for wounded and sick soldiers. The patients generally did not have life-threatening injuries and simply needed time to recover. Auxiliary hospitals were not usually as strict as military hospitals, they were less crowded and often much more personal and homely. Many soldiers found their experience of an auxiliary hospital a very pleasant one indeed.
The Arnold Auxiliary Hospital was set up in a building donated by building contractor William Sayle Arnold. Pupils from Doncaster Girls High School regularly sent donations of gifts, food and money, and it gained a reputation for the excellent treatment of its patients. The hospital finally closed in April 1919.