VAD Cissie Stell

Voluntary Aid Detachment page

Red Cross, St John Ambulance Brigade and Royal Army Medical Corpsbadges

Cissie Stell

General Service (May 1915-June 1916)

Assistant Nurse, Surgical Nursing Duties (July 1916-June 1919)

Early life:

Cissie was the name by which Sarah Stell was known. She was born on 2nd November 1895 to John Stell, a textile machine maker who was the son of William, one of the founders of Messrs. Hall & Stells worsted machinery makers, which in 1931 would merge with Prince Smith and Sons to become Prince Smith and Stells. Cissie's mother was Clara Stell nee Cooper.

A Hall & Stells publication

Cissie was baptised on 29th December 1895 at Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Eastwood. Their address at this time was 27 Belgrave Road.

The baptism of Sarah (Cissie) Stell

In 1901 the three lived at 3 Victoria Park View. John was working as a manager of a worsted machine shop (employed), I assume employed by the family business.

The Stell family shown on the 1901 Census

By 1911 John was documented as an employer, so presumably had taken over in the business when his father died in 1905. They had moved to 30 Devonshire Street, and had been joined by a son, William Ewart who was nine years old. Cissie was not at this address at the time, however, she was away at a boarding school named Oakfield in Arnside, Cumbria.

War service:

Cissie worked on a volunteer basis throughout the majority of the war. Initially at Spencer Street Auxiliary Hospital in general service, she worked 1,200 hours over thirteen months. In July 1916 she transferred to Morton Banks as an assistant nurse, undertaking surgical nursing duties. Her VAD record card notes that she was mentioned in dispatches though I have not been able to locate it.

In June 1916 the Wounded Soldiers' Comfort Committee was founded, and a depot opened where donations of clothes and food could be dropped off and distributed to the hospitals. I believe Cissie may have been involved in this to some extent, as the photo below shows her with two other ladies collecting cigarettes for soldiers.

Dorothy Mitchell, Mabel Rothera and Cissie Stell collecting cigarettes for soldiers in the military hospitals

Post war:

On 21st September 1921 Cissie married John Harold Wright, a partner in a paper manufacturing firm. They married at the same Wesleyan Methodist Chapel that she was baptised in and one of her bridesmaids was Miss Edith Laycock who was a fellow VAD.

The Yorkshire Post marriage announcement fom 22nd September 1925

Cissie and John had two daughters, Christine Mary (1923) and Helen Elizabeth (1925).

Cissie's father John died in 1937, his probate record shows that his wife Clara, and daughter and son in law lived at Browfield, Spring Gardens Lane. William had died in 1928 at the age of 27.

By 1939 Cissie and John had moved to Beck House, Micklethwaite.

They still lived at Beck House when Cissie died on 17th November 1974, aged 80, and John died on 22nd December 1978, aged 95.

Information sources:

England and Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
West Yorkshire, Non-Conformist Records, 1646-1985
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
1939 England and Wales Register
England and Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
England and Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995
Keighley News, 3rd July 1915
The Yorkshire Post, 22nd September 1921, marriage announcements

Comments are closed.