Vera Gold

Hackney Hospital
Interviewed by Claudia Jessop

Vera Gold was born in Stepney in 1918, the daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants. After leaving school at 14 she worked as a dressmaker’s assistant and a shop assistant. When the Second World War broke out, she reported for duty as a nursing assistant for the St John Ambulance. She worked at a First Aid post based at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, where she also helped in the outpatients’ department and on the wards. It was here that she met her future husband, who also worked for the St John Ambulance service. In 1940 her home was bombed, but luckily she managed to reach an Anderson shelter shortly before the bombing raid started. In the same year she got married and shortly afterwards started work at a First Aid post based at the Stepney Jewish Hospital, and then at the Eastern Fever Hospital in Homerton Row (the present-day site of Homerton University Hospital). At the Eastern she worked in the ambulances and on the children’s ward, and this job helped to secure her and her husband accommodation at Banbury House in South Hackney, where she was living when her two children were born in 1943 and 1946. After the Second World War the family moved to Loughton in Essex, where they lived for 28 years until, having been widowed, Vera decided to return to London where she set up a new home in Highbury, living there for 32 years.  We were very saddened to learn of Vera's death shortly before the completion of this website.

The birth of my two children

Vera describes pregnancy complications, which led to a long stay in Hackney Hospital before the birth of her son during the Second World War, her three-day labour and the eventual safe birth of her son. She also talks about a mix-up with her newborn daughter who was taken home by another mother by mistake.


Vera talks about breastfeeding her son and taking him to be weighed at a post-natal clinic.

Heating the hospital

Vera describes the wards at Hackney Hospital during the winter of 1942-43, and her request to be allowed to get out of bed to sit by one of the coal fires.

Working as an assitant in an ambulance

Vera remembers her work as an assistant in an ambulance, the equipment used and the need to pacify an agitated patient.

This page was added by Lisa Rigg on 15/10/2009.

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