Thursday, 28 April 2016

Tuberculosis Treatment (part 4 of 6)

Going to more favourable climates was one of the “cures” for TB. A belief in the powers of a fresh air cure made many mountain-side sanatoriums popular. Sanatoriums were established in different areas as well. The first hospital in Bournemouth was actually a sanatorium built in 1855 as a convalescent home for the Brompton Hospital in London. Perhaps William and Sarah Ann Chambers were lured there by the book The Medical Aspects of Bournemouth and its Surroundings which was published in 1885 and written by Dr Horace Dobell, a specialist in chest diseases.

While popular with those who had the means to attend them, sanatoriums in this time period seem to have had questionable success. Their regimes of good food and rest outside of crowded cities may have boosted some sufferers' resistance, but with the on-again off-again symptomology of tuberculosis, the disease might have just decided to retreat for a while. The demand for immediate results by various groups lead to misleading reports of therapeutic successes. Although there was a sanatorium in Bournemouth, it is unlikely that Sarah Ann would have been admitted to it as preference for spots was given to male breadwinners. Sanatoriums were less popular with women than for men as women didn't like to leave their families and, if given a place, tended to leave when there were problems with the children at home. Busy wives and mothers would have been more likely to have used one of the dispensaries in Bournemouth which doled out medication for consumption sufferers. Dispensaries were cheap and some were even free. 


Thomas Dormandy, White Death: A History of Tuberculosis. (New York: New York University Press,

F.B. Smith, The Retreat of Tuberculosis 1850-1950. (London, New York, Sydney: Croom Helm, 1988).

“Streets of Bournemouth: Health”,  accessed February 25, 2016

Flurin Condrau, “Beyond the Total Institution: Towards a Reinterpretation of the Tuberculosis     Sanatorium.” In Tuberculosis Then and Now, ed Flurin Condrau and Michael Worboys (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010).

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