Saving Our Hospital – the life-changing power of a movement

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Hospital Box Scheme

The article is: ‘Saving our hospital’: the remarkable Bath Royal United Hospital Box Scheme.

If you would like to tell more people about your unique family history, then please contact us via this page: I want to donate our family’s unique history.

John Daniels never knew his grandfather, Frank Pine, during his lifetime. He was a man who harnessed the life changing power of a movement – the Bath Hospital Box Scheme to help change people’s lives for the better.

Through his research into Frank’s life, John discovered that Frank’s accomplishments were overshadowed by his death just before the Bath Blitz and its publicity ensuring Frank Pine remained relatively unknown.

He has a fascinating tale to tell though, a tale of social security in two ways: establishing a role in society from humble beginnings and promoting the welfare of a community before the introduction of the Welfare State through friendly societies and local government.

Frank Pine played a significant role in the Bath Hospital Box Scheme, which saved the Bath Royal United Hospital from financial ruin.

Frank Pine relied on his connections to the Beckingsale family and had a close relationship with the Daniels family of Combe Down as he played a crucial role in these endeavours.

Alongside many other local residents, Frank and his family, as well as the Daniels family, actively participated in the political and social scenes of Bath, particularly Combe Down, during the 1920s and 1930s.

We’re so used to the Welfare State, including the NHS that we forget that before the second world war life was distinctly different especially when it came to health care.

The main availability of health care was the health insurance element of National Insurance, introduced in 1911 by Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George and expanded throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

This was a compulsory insurance scheme for workers in certain industries, though it generally did not cover family members.

The insurance granted access to a doctor from the local panel when needed, but usually didn’t stretch as far as hospital treatment.

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The other scheme was membership of one of the various community-owned mutual aid funds and medical clubs, into which working people could pay while times were good.

They would receive access to a doctor, medicines and sometimes hospital treatment without having to see the almoner, by means of paying in advance.

Organisations followed a similar ‘hospital Saturday’ approach in fundraising for their local hospital. 

These were named Saturday funds, as this was traditionally payday for workers, when they could make their contributions to the hospital.

The Hospital Saving Association (HSA) was founded in London on 11 July 1922, focused on providing cover for working people, with both member and their employer contributing. 

The association was formed as limited liability, but non-profit.

Those taking part in the scheme were exempted from charges at the London Hospital (now the Royal London Hospital) and other voluntary hospitals taking part in the scheme.

In Bath and the surrounding areas there was the Bath Hospital Box Scheme that was vital to the survival of the Royal United and other hospitals – Frank Pine played an important role in its success.

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Hubert Beckingsale – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Saturday 13 April 1940
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Death of Mr Beckingsale
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Late Mrs Beckingsale

He and his family lived at The Firs and, as well as his role in the Bath Hospital Box Scheme he found time to serve non Combe Down Council.

Combe Down Council Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette Saturday 22 March 1930
Combe Down Council – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Saturday 22 March 1930

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Help to kick-start Prior To Now Trust

The time has come to unveil some more information about the future direction of Prior to Now Trust.

As you know it’s mainly the website ( and Facebook group.

They will, of course, continue and the Trustees are very keen to make sure that TrustMembers continue to be involved.

Mentioning Trustees they are:


Margaret and I have been married for over 40 years and it was a ‘no brainer’ to ask her to be a Trustee.

She has many years of detailed administration experience and as chair of the Parents and Friends for Prior Park raised c. £75, 000. Her fetes and Xmas market were always over subscribed.





All these good folk have committed to progressing the development of the Prior to Now Trust towards the vision of “a virtual village”.

What this means is shown in the diagram and, in creating it we want to make sure that the software is freely available to other groups like ours.

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Imagine being able to enter the name of an ancestor and being able immediately to find out where and when he lived, what family he had, what he did, how he was related to others in the village, where he’s buried etc. etc

That’s the ‘virtual village’.

All of this, of course, supplemented by a growing body of family history, photos, documents, anecdotes and other historical information.

It’s clear to me that this is a substantial undertaking and, whilst there is some money in the kitty, it will need funding.

We’re looking at a number of options for that.

It’s also clear that having some volunteers will be helpful.

There are 3 main areas where you can help.

  • People
  • Places
  • Production

The first two are about researching and writing about the people or places. Production is about crucial support to publish research results, man the social media etc.


That’s it for now.

I hope that I’ve made it all clearer than mud and hope you all think it’s a good way to continue.

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Wonderful, genuine tributes to remarkable people

We all have loved ones and want to remember them with wonderful but genuine tributes.

The passing of Frank Sumsion, whose Memories of Combe Down are a well-loved and well-read part of the site made me think.

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Frank and Jane Sumsion

What might Prior to Now offer the Combe Down area to not only honour their memory but also “cement” them into our history? An obituary page seemed the obvious solution and would also allow us to search out historical obituaries of people who came before and provide another small insight.

I approached the Sumsion family who, very kindly, gave their permission and provided the material.

I also wanted to remember Glenys Green (née Wynne) who we met very soon after we came to Combe Down in 1984. She became a Godmother to our daughter Victoria and she was just the nicest, most genuine person you could meet. She also did a great deal of voluntary charity work.

So I asked Etta, Glenys’ grand-daughter, whether she would provide an obituary for Glenys. She said yes.

So came about the obituaries page.

We’d love to learn about your suggestions as to whom we might seek out historically, and it’s not easy, obituaries were quite unusual. Brief announcements of death were published in America as early as the 16th century. But not until the 19th century, and following a lead from us British, did obituaries become more detailed accounts, appearing with regularity in the press.

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Richard and Glenys Green

The first obituaries were published in ancient Rome around 59 B.C.E. on papyrus newspapers called Acta Diurna.

Ancestry, has enhanced its online obituary archives by using AI algorithms to extract biographical information from over 262 million obituaries dating back to the 1750s – which sounds like a lot of obituaries until you calculate it as a percentage of people who have lived.

As newspapers began automating typesetting in the 20th century, more space became available for death notices and obituaries.

Newspapers realized the financial potential in publishing obituaries, leading to the modern obituary template taking shape in the 1930s and 1940s. This template typically consists of a death announcement, a short biography, a “survived by” section, and funeral details.

Naturally, we would be happy to receive requests to add an obituary for genuine Combe Down area people – but you have to provide it, and allow us to edit it. There are some suggestions about how to write a tremendous obituary here.

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