Edith Hogarth
27th July 1895 - 27th June 1996

Left:  Inscription on back -- added later -- reads "Edith Duggan, 19 years old. Salonika, Macedonia. 1917".  (I am aware of a disparity between this and certain other dates.)  She would later marry my grandfather - Master draper Wilfrid Hogarth of 107 Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland, and become Mrs. Edith Hogarth.  She is shown here, at the beginning of a remarkable career in nursing, with her cousin Richard Boyle, 21 (later killed in action).

Right:  Edith in Midwife's uniform at the time of her first retirement at age 60.

Edith's father, Bernard Duggan, was a Colliery surveyor who helped establish the pit at Bolden Colliery.  Catherine Cookson the novelist was Edith's friend and had attended the same school.

The following is a transcript from the local newspaper on the occasion of her 100th birthday in July 1995.

100 Years and 3,500 babies

After delivering more than 3,500 babies in her time, retired midwife Edith Hogarth yesterday took a breather to celebrate with her own.  Forty relatives joined in the party at her son Bernard's house in Blackwell, Darlington.  But as if that wasn't enough she had another party to go to afterwards.  Staff at The Oaklands nursing home in Bishop Auckland, where she lives, also insisted on celebrating in grand style.

Born in Tyne Dock, Mrs. Hogarth was bought up in Bolden Colliery and after serving as a Red Cross nurse in Turkey during the First World War, she returned to become District Midwife in West Auckland, near Darlington.

For the next 50 years she delivered thousands of babies, and even after she was retired by the local authority at 60, she returned to private nursing by popular request.

Her son Bernard said he remembered a childhood filled with his mother disappearing on her bicycle to deliver babies.  "She'd just deliver one baby and she would get a call and would be out again," he said.  "She was very popular, fair with the patients but any husband who stepped out of line would be thrown out."

She never learned to drive and did her rounds, which included Bishop Auckland, South Church and Torronto, on her bike.  But she recalled yesterday that she had a close call one day.  "The local lads had been playing with my bike's brakes," she said.  "I went hell for leather and flying down a hill.  I was like a motor-bike."

At 68 Mrs Hogarth decided to call it a day, but she was then asked to become a cancer nurse, a post which she held for the next four years before retiring again.  But that retirement was short-lived - She became a regular baby-sitter for a local doctor's children.

Translation, from the german language original, of an article which appeared in the 'Gütersloher Volkszeitung' newspaper, on Friday the 21st of August, 1981.

Cradle of a long friendship
started in PoW camp

86 year old English midwife visits Güterslohe
couple for the second time.

Güterslohe: If somebody helps you you do not forget in a hurry.  The conviction in Georg Kern's voice is genuine as he says it.  He looks at Edith Hogarth who sits, small and fragile, an 86 year old Englishwoman beside him.  But her lively eyes tell you she follows the conversation with interest.  As Georg translates her story nods agreement, mutters 'Oh, yes', and mostly adds something else to the story.

They have known each other for 37 years and their friendship started during one of the infamous chapters of our history.  Near the end of World War II Georg went to England as a PoW.  He had been wounded by shrapnel.  He first got to know the country by different PoW camps.  The final one was at Bishop Auckland and as a barber he was allowed to work at the hospital.

In 1945 some prisoners had the idea to found a church choir.  The advantages of this undertaking were soon apparent.  Soon the singers marched every Sunday to St. Wilfrid's Church and, as the guards found it too boring and too cold, they soon sent them by themselves.  Thus came the first contact with Edith Hogarth, at Christmas 1945.  After the Ave Maria the PoWs were allowed to spend Christmas with an English family.  Edith Hogarth chose Georg and soon he became one of the family.

Through her work in World War 1 Edith was used to soldiers and prisoners.  She worked in a Greek field hospital.  In all the senselessness of war for her there were no boundaries of nationalities.  It didn't matter to her whether they were Greek, Turkish, English or German.  So it didn't take long before Georg was entrusted with the house key.  Against all the rules he went with the family for several Sunday outings wearing the clothes of the oldest son.  [i.e. Vincent]

Georg soon found that his friend was a special personality.  This fragile little woman brought nearly all the youngsters in the town into the world.  From 1937 she was the only midwife in South-west Durham.  The fact that she delivered 2,500 babies speaks for itself.  Whether storm, hail, snow or shine, midwife Hogarth was always there.  The press and TV remembered her for her 40 years of public service from the age of 17.

Even four years ago, at the proud age of 82, she did three night shifts a week at the hospital - true to her motto "Never get old."  Her son John and daughter in law Barbara, who are on holiday with her at Güterslohe bear out her strong character.

Three years ago she took it into her head to go to South Africa because she wanted to see her sister once again.

Now retired as a midwife she babysits for her grandchildren and woe betide anyone who suggests she is too old for the job.

Twice Edith Hogarth has been to Friedrichsdorf, in 1953 and now.  Impressed by the spectacle of a shooting festival at her first visit, she had to come back.

The Kerns visited her in 1966.  John Hogarth and Georg Kern are both ardent collectors of coins and stamps.  The next visit to England is planned for next year and there is a determination not to let the friendship go stale.

Go to Wilfrid & Edith's page