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Topics / People/Zilpha Draper

Zilpha Draper

Zilpha Draper, a past resident of Griffydam, is still remembered and spoken about fondly by those who were fortunate to know her. She was born in Griffydam on July 1st 1893. The Draper family at that time lived in a cottage near to the Griffydam Wesleyan Methodist Chapel.


Coming from a poor and humble background, Zilpha was determined to make something of her life. It seems that she had an inbuilt desire to become a nurse, and when she had reached the required age, an application was made to join the profession. Apparently though, she was turned down because her father was a coal miner hewer and by 1911, at the age of 18, Zilpha was working in an affluent area of Leicester as a domestic servant. She was advised that she should re-apply to become a nurse by putting her father's occupation as a small-holder and she was subsequently accepted for training. She achieved her aim in life and qualified to become a ward sister.

Zilpha Draper Memorial.jpg

She travelled widely in England working in various hospitals, including Chester & Northampton, but is recorded in the 1939 register as lodging at "Paddock House", Coleorton, when she could possibly have been working at "Ashby de la Zouch District Cottage Hospital", although further research is required to substantiate this. On her retirement, probably around 1953, Zilpha moved back to live in the village of her birth in a cottage at, 25, Elder Lane, across the road from the Dimmock's family residence. Sue Smith (nee., Dimmock), relates the fond memories she has of Zilpha as a child, who her mother helped a lot. Zilpha in fact delivered her mother and twin into the world in 1927. Sue inherited the trunk Zilpha took on her travels with her, which she still has.


Zilpha's family were clearly religious, and apparently her father Arthur Draper became a local Wesleyan Methodist and features on Ashby Circuit plans in the author's possession. He Apparently travelled around the district on his bike to preach his sermons at various chapels. Either a bicycle or a pony and trap was the usual means of transport in those days. 


We understand that Zilpha worked at Northampton Hospital and helped in the development of radium treatment. Apparently, it was her duty to put the radium isotopes down the well when the German bombers came over. The same source related, that before she died, she became covered in large lumps and eventually her immune system broke down. After finding out she had worked with Radium, they decided that this was the cause, even though it was some 50 years prior. Zilpha was presumably cremated as only a plaque in memory of her is in Worthington Graveyard. Her brother Arthur is also buried there with his wife Elsie Tet.  

Article and photograph courtesy of Samuel T Stewart. Further information about Zilpha and her family can be found in Samuel T Stewart's publication by clicking here>

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