Nottingham Hospitals Archives 2011
“The Trent and I go wandering by”
Robert George Hogarth
Stories of over fifty years of my life in Nottingham
R.G. Hogarth (1863 – 1953)
C.B.E., D.L., J.P., F.R.C.S., HON. LL.D. EDIN
Early days at the General Hospital
It was in 1894 that I applied for the post of one of the Residents at the General Hospital.
The night before the election, that which I wish to face those who proved to be my long-term employers, it was my good fortune to be invited to dinner by a character of who all men on the surgical side, so it seems to me, has stood out alone from the many who have held position on the Honorary Staff. It was Mr Anderson, whose remarkable personality you will find further mention.
Since he and I had the same "Alma mater" in St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, Mr Anderson took somewhat more than official interest in my anxiety to join the General Hospital staff. It was the finality of that election which proved an occasion for me to realise – if I had not sensed this before – that here was a man of unusual make up "a curious man," I said to myself more than once, but a man, for all that, whom one could both admire and like.
As we candidates nervously awaited the new verdict, the small assembly room door suddenly opened, and my friend Anderson, not very big, and with shoulders sloping so that the one was much lower than the other, popped in his head and with no additional word or signup pleasure said to me – "You've got it" – upon which he turned and slammed the door.
I was particularly glad to have been selected – and if in the proof is required of this pudding, well – here I am still in Nottingham – still an interested adherent to "the General," and surrounded by most happy memories of those 53 years between.
My experience of work as a Resident had already by that time been quite extensive, and my posts had included similar position in St Bartholomew's, London, and in the Royal Hospital at Wolverhampton; additionally I was already a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, a point which no doubt had weighed much in my favour before the Board, who had a large number of candidates from whom to select their man. Let it be added that the fairness of elections to all such posts in those days was opened to great question, and in many of the public appointments qualifications and experience were often outweighed by personal likes and dislikes, with prejudices and intrigue sometimes playing their part.
I made a brief mention of my post in the Royal Hospital at Wolverhampton, and – with the million trusts which were and which have since been mine – I am now pleasurably recalling that it was at Wolverhampton that I gained early experience of playing Football as an Amateur in the Professional (Wolves) side. The ability to give me full time to Football did not come my way, and I would make no regular appearances for Wolverhampton Wanderers – as much as I should have liked to play for such a team more frequently.
But, let's get back to the General Hospital. What a different set up in 1894 to that which we find today. Firstly, there were then only for Residents – two Seniors receiving the fat salary of £100 per annum, and two Juniors who got no salary at all.
There were no specialists on the Honorary Staff, but while all the Honoraries had a general practice of sorts, none could be so classed, accepted to be the Mr Anderson, of whom I have spoken, and of whose ability I soon came to be amazed, for he was by far the most able surgeon who has been on the staff of the General Hospital – one with whose efficiency I was intrigued, even after my excellent experience of working for and with some of the leading London surgeons of that day.
At this time there would be about 170 beds in the hospital, added by four poorly paid or unpaid Residents, whereas in the present day the General can boast of some 564 beds and has a Residents List of at least eighteen men, all highly qualified. In those years between I have seen many a sweeping change, (but have also gladly made many and note of progress), the mere suggestion of which would have been considered quite revolutionary at the time when I first joined the staff.
It seems that there must have been some general acceptance by the people of Nottingham of the fact that it was "not all beer and skittles" to be a young Resident at the General Hospital, for I shall always remember how the Honorary staff made a point of entertaining the Resident staff, and how they went further by passing cars on to their own friends, many of whom went out of their way to make our social life and off duty hours more amenable – and, believe me, there was quite a lot of lavish entertaining in the Nottingham of that day.
That this aspect of my Resident's life had a very great bearing upon my future happiness can well be seen, for it was not that I selected from the (then as now) markedly pretty girls of Nottingham, my wonderful wife. During the successive years which we have spent together she has made a large contribution to the happiness which has been mine since the day when old Anderson bluntly said – "You've got it."
The social side of the Residents life had a recreational counterpart and in this connection it was the Boards practice to consult me – then the Senior Resident Medical Officer, in the matter of appointing men for junior posts. Naturally (and I'm the same man who earlier mentioned likes and prejudices), with some say in the matter I put forward, other things being reasonably equal, the young men of the day who, like myself, had some football, cricket or other sporting interest, plus commended themselves at least to me. So it was that I persuaded more than one International into our ranks, to our enjoyment and to the enhancing of the Hospitals athletic reputation. You see, we were always busy looking for some games outlet, and sought for the best which circumstances could provide in the way of a football pitch, or some practice place for cricket. We had a patch at the back of the Hospital which we develop sufficiently to allow us much fun, for though we could never manage to arrange a regular fixture list, much good fun was derived from our annual "Medicos versus Parsons," or ditto versus "The Law," and in each of these encounters there was always the enjoyable anticipation (and later realisation) of good brown ale, supped from large brown jugs at the close of the games.
Nottingham had previously, and has much since, appealed to me as a sporting centre. In 1890 I managed to win the Amateur Long Jump Championship – and if my memory serves me right, it was at this meeting that I came into touch with Daft, who won the Hurdles in the same year. My personal satisfaction was not so much in the winning that that in so doing I be the fellow who held the Championship for the two preceding years, together with a miscellany of area champions and others of long jumping fame.
I had already had a taste of floating through air to a Championship, four, after gaining the Public School record (then something over twenty feet) I went on to achieve a United Hospitals Record, my best jump being of 21'11 inches length – made, be it noted, from a grass run-up and without that cinder grip has now provided for the run and take-off.
Athletics, as you will hear, were not my only recreational outlet, and it is of local interest to note that on being asked to play my first game for The Casuals, then a London amateur side of great prowess, I found myself at Trent Bridge and matched against my present friends Notts County.
The intermingling of my most interesting work with my varied sporting activities has brought me many wonderful friends, and I count it a blessing to be able to number amongst them men and women from every walk in life, and from what can be termed the highest and the lowest, the determined by rank, by achievement or by wealth.
You may be assuming that we young Residents were more interested in the social and recreational side than we were in our work, but there was much of the latter and you will hear how interesting when many of the characters composing the staff of the General during those years.
At the moment my mind is still on the fun and games tack, and I have a mind in compressed with more than a few amusing incidents connected with this early phase.
There were nothing like the present day Christmas Festivities for others. We did have some sort of Christmas dinner, but for many years there reigned supreme a very strict disciplinarian Matron, Miss Knight, who looked after the nurses very strictly. Upon such hangs the following: –
We had amongst us a very effeminate looking Resident as one of the Assistants. In later years he became a very famous surgeon practising in Liverpool, but at about the time when the strict Miss Knight had brought discipline to a high-pitch, we conceived the idea of playing a trick on her. And so, we dressed down not unwilling effeminate-like Assistant in nurses closes. As it was a nice moonlit night the Assistant and I climbed out onto the lawn at the back of the hospital and sat upon the seat in full view of the Matrons window.
Waiting until the correct moment when Matron came to her window to investigate I slipped my arm round Nurses waste and made pretence of caressing her most lovingly
Matron just fell for it and must have thought what a fine catch she had made, she immediately rang a bell, had all doors shut, and all nurses lined up for counting and questioning. Of course, she never found any culprit for all the nurses were reported present (and presentable), meanwhile we two men crept in at the window while Matrons Inquisition was at its height. For once, we felt, it would be Matron and not the nursing staff whose equilibrium would be upset, and I bet she spent a restless night wondering if her eyes had deceived her.
Everyone here has heard of the Hospital Ball, which is held annually and is undoubtedly one of the greatest social events of the year. I shan't forget the first one I went to.
It was after I had come to the Hospital and the Ball was held in the Albert Hall. The President, I remember, was Sir Thomas Birkin. This proves an expensive entertainment for the President (this as I know to my cost, because I was myself President years afterwards) for the President paid for the champagne, and for the oysters consumed, as well as meeting the cost of providing the Band. A £300 bill would be a lucky getaway.
To revert to the first Hospital Ball I ever attended. As yet, I didn't know many people in Nottingham – I had only been there about a couple of months – so I spent most of the evening dancing with our nurses, the selected few of whom were always allowed to attend.
After supper, in the Supper Room, I was sitting with another Resident from the Hospital, Dr Waring, who is still alive, and we were smoking cigarettes, when Mr Leslie Birkin (afterwards Colonel Birkin), sent a message to tell us to put out how cigarettes.
As I had enjoyed a good supper (and also something with which to wash it down), I felt very annoyed at this apparent dictation. Of course, the smoking of cigarettes was not so prevalent nor as common a practice at dances then as now, and, since how smoking was after the ladies had retired, I sent back a message to Birkin to telling – well, you can guess what, that at any rate enough to convey to him that I wasn't putting out my cigarette on his request. He, in his turn, replied that if I didn't comply he would have me put out, neck and crop. My reply was that, in such a case, he had better get on with the job.
However, he was the son of my host, the President and I was peacefully persuaded to comply. On reflection I'm glad that this contretemps did not result in a stand-up fight, because I rather fancy I might have got much the worst of it. As we were about to leave the Ball, Leslie Birkin's brother – now Major Philip – whom I knew fairly well by that time – rushed me towards his brother and introduced me to him as his friend. So, we potential antagonists thus became reconciled, and, I am glad to say, we became good friends from that day.
The word or two more about Mr Anderson, the Honorary "with the sloping shoulders" and my mentor in those early days.
Anderson had a strange habit of meeting you, staring at you for about 4 minutes and then walking away without even saying a word.
I well remember my arrival at the General Hospital to take up my duties, about a month after election. It was in the afternoon and so I asked old Dakin, the Hall Porter – an old Crimean soldier, I should guess – "Is anything interesting going on in the Hospital?" He said – "Yes Sir, Mr Anderson is operating upstairs," and thinking – "Well, at least you'll be glad to see me," I went up to the Theatre.
Anderson had just finished an operation, and when I came in he ambled up to me, stood and looked at me for about three or four minutes, never said a word and then walked away. "Truly this is a strange reception, I thought," – but I was so taken aback I did not offer a word of recognition myself.
However, all who knew Mr Anderson will recall his funny ways and yet appreciate what a very straight and reliable man in every way he was. Unfortunately, when he left Nottingham, and went to live in retirement at Bournemouth, he was never fully happy there, and I was one of the many who would have wished that he has stayed in this district.
When I was a Resident at the Hospital, I used to cycle with Anderson quite a lot. Very definitely he was quite the most dangerous bicycle rider I ever saw. His erratic ways with a cycle at my side always frightened me to death; and he had several accidents, in one knocking over a cow on the Radcliffe Road, and, just after I had started in practice, having a very serious accident resulting in injuries of some severity to his leg and knee.
Other great personalities amongst the staff of those early days, come to my mind. The Senior Surgeon on the Honorary staff was Dr Owen Taylor, a tall, very good-looking man possessing beautiful curly hair, which he parted down the middle. This made him appear to have a permanent wave, and with such embellishment and with the finest bedside manner of any (and there have been many) this I have seen, I do not wonder at the great success which he had in his general practice. For Surgery he did not seem to care much, nor did he appear anxious to practice this at the Hospital. It must however be remembered that in those days there were not nearly as many operations performed as there are today.
Many in Nottingham and District will know his son, Dr Owen Taylor of East Bridgeford Hall. Very like his father, he has the same cheery mien, an optimistic outlook and most polished manners.
Also very kind and likeable man there was in the person of Mr Joseph Thompson. In the Hospital Board Room is to be seen a picture of Mr Josephs father, who served the Hospital as a Surgeon before him.
Mr Joseph did not care much for Surgery, nor did he have to carry out very much, but it was always a great pleasure and worthwhile experience to see him operate and also to work for him.
Last of these Surgeons was Mr Chicken – indeed he was a strange fellow! I remember at one period, when I was House Surgeon, Mr Chicken did not attend the Hospital for the space of nearly a year. It fell to me to prepare his Operation List, and most often did he ask me to do his operations for him, which of course suited me well enough, for I gained thus quite an amount of excellent and varied experience.
However, the time came when the Board of Management heard about Mr Chicken's lack of regular attendance ("Chick hadn't come up to scratch," in fact!) and so they had him "on the carpet" and suggested that if he didn't care to come to the Hospital in might at least resign. After that he came most regularly!
Like Mr Anderson, he too left Nottingham to live in the south of England.
The three physicians of that day were Drs Brookhouse, Handford and William Bramwell Ransom. Ransom and Handford would have been marked anywhere as very fine physicians, and as a consequence they built up consulting practices of great repute, and enjoyed the confidence of many private patients as well.
William Bramwell Ransom was the son of old Dr William Henry Ransom, the Physician to the Hospital, and a Fellow of the Royal Society who had a distinguished career. Undoubtedly William Bramwell Ransom's early death was a tremendous loss to the Hospital, as it was to the Medical Profession and to the general public of Nottingham for whom he had already done much.
Dr Brookhouse, the Senior Physician, was a doctor of the old Victorian school. I should say that he only believed in about two drugs – of which one was strychnine! He had around boyish face, and rather red cheeks. There were many patients who were convinced that I was his son!
The Board of Management was composed of very able men. The Chairman was The Rev Henry Seymour, with Sir Charles Seely, The Rev Robert Holden, and Mr Tom Hill, and many others who over this period took real interest in the well-being of the Hospital. On Mr Seymour's resignation, Sir Charles Seely became Chairman. A great autocrat, very stylish in his appearance and generally dressed in a black tailcoat, and wearing white spats, Sir Charles Seely was a distinct personality. His chairmanship was such that he practically did what he liked at the Hospital, but in all probability he was the greatest benefactor the Hospital has enjoyed – though none more than myself knows what great things were done and have been done, then and since, – amongst which more latterly is the aid given by Mr William Goodacre Player, not at that time a member of the Board.
Sir Charles Seely had a great idea of looking ahead, and as a long-term policy he bought up all the property surrounding the Hospital, paying for it himself. Had it not been that Sir Charles possessed this foresight, the General Hospital could never have achieved the expansion which it has, nor could it all have been rested on the historical and commanding site where it now stands, historical in that it was that Standard Hill that Charles I raised his standard in the Civil War some 300 years ago – and arresting not only in its structure but from its position on which it towers above the ancient city, and stands as a monument to the relief of human suffering.
Once, I remember, Sir Charles Seely said – "Hogarth I want you to come to look at a property which I have in mind to buy us a Convalescent Home for the Hospital." He took me to see the Cedars, which he ultimately bought, and from that date it has developed into its excellence of today, with which most of you will be acquainted. He also built the new Outpatients Department, where the present Casualty Department is now placed. How dark, crowded and entirely inadequate it had been that Outpatients Department before!
When his own mind had been made up fairly definitely, he asked the Honorary Staff to meet him and to discuss the plans which he produced. After these plans had been well and truly criticised – and as some alterations had been suggested, but got Sir Charles and said – "Gentleman, these are the plans, and if you don't like them, you need not have them." We honoraries went out, and Sir Charles had correctly assessed the position, for nothing further was said – and he proceeded to have the unaltered plans put into execution. Such was Sir Charles Seely!
Again, after we bought the old Children's Hospital it was decided to build a bridge over Postern Street, to connect up this building to the main Hospital. It was an elaborate and very beautiful bridge, something after the style of The Bridge of Sighs in Venice, and might have taken its idea from such a Bridge as may be seen at St John's College, Cambridge, as it spans the Backs. But, lo and behold as soon as this connecting bridge is built, Sir Charles Seely said, "I don't like it" – and proceeded to have the whole thing pulled down, placing in its stead that far less picturesque indeed ugly bridge which is there to this day.
Yes, the General Hospital those very much to Sir Charles, and indeed to the Seely Family as a whole.
Other notable members of the Board of Management at that time were Mr Frederick Acton, afterwards its Chairman, and Mr James Forman – names which are familiar to any Nottingham men of that day.
The positioning of various Departments, etc., has suffered much changed since I first knew the General. The Old Boardroom, for instance, was where the Sisters Dining Room is now, and where you find the Offices there was the Dispensary, a funny place, I thought, and close to that is now the Casualty Department. In this Dispensary was a small hole in the wall through which patients used to get their medicine. Inside would be the Apothecary and Dispenser, Mr Crackle, a quaint being who reminded me of some Dickens character – very old-fashioned, but most methodical and conscientious about his work.
He had only one Assistant, a nice little girl and I suppose then about seventeen years old. She is still at the Hospital, having come to succeed Mr Crackle, and you will recognise her as Miss Prince who served from her teens upwards. She likewise has the efficiency of her childhoods tutor, but nowadays has a large staff to carry out such greater volume of work as the days demand. I can look back and forward and say "Just as charming and pleasant as she used to be in those early days."
She will be able to recall with me how very nervous about his health was Mr Crackle, but she may have been too young then to realise how we used to play upon his nervousness and, devils that we were, used to play every old trick to make Old Crackle think he was ill, or was going to be!
Mr Crackle lived in the Hospital, and was most friendly with Sister Smith on No.2 Division. She was old-fashioned too and somehow we came to form the idea that perhaps these two were man and wife. If in fact they were, they kept the secret well, because over a number of years we were not able to get the true perspective of their affinity.
At this time there was no Dental Department to the Hospital – so it fell to us Residents to extract all the teeth, as and when required. Now when I use the more modern word extract, I might have fitted better the word pull or tug – for that practically what it amounted to. No anaesthetics were used, of course, and the performances were generally accompanied by loud screaming! I got quite good at ridding people of their teeth!
We had a Dentist attached to the Hospital – Mr Blandy, who was father of Dr William Boothby Blandy who also served this district long and well, and who died quite recently.
Now Old Mr Blandy was a quaint old man, with a wooden leg, and was well known locally, though he did not carry out much dentistry at the Hospital itself. He certainly had no formal Department and there were no fillings and dental operations performed in the up-to-date manner of the present-day. He lived quite close to the Hospital, on Standard Hill, just at the corner of Mount Street – and he too would have well fitted as a model for the drawing of many a Dickensian character.
They fed us all quite well at the General, whereas Residents we were catered for by a funny old cook, Lizzie Green. I should say that she weighed about 18 stone! Anyhow she was fat and of some girth, one might say. I ought to know, for it used to be my annual, shall I say, duty and pleasure to open the Servants Ball at Christmas by dancing with Lizzie Green. I found her quite surprisingly light on her feet for a woman of such size – and we always got good appreciation by a burst of applause as she and I completed our opening circuit of the Ballroom floor.
Sometimes we used to try to take a rise out of Lizzie Green. I once sent the Staff Parlour Maid down to the kitchen with the following message (if only to see the reaction): – "Will you please ask Lizzie Green, with the Doctors compliments, how far off the cauliflower she stood when she threw the sauce that it?" The effect was electric – up stumped Lizzie Green into the Doctors room, flourishing her saucepan and demanding to know what we meant. I said, "My dear Lizzie, we only ask our question as a sort of complement to you, for we wanted to know how far off you could stand and do it accurately. Lizzie retreated with a broad grin on her face's formation!
The Doctors Dining Room was then situated where you will now find the lift to the Jubilee Wing. About this time we possessed a couple of parrots, of which one is I later passed on to Mr Crackle in the Dispensary where it lived for many years.
Scoundrels that we were, we still like to give these parrots bits of bread soaked in whiskey and they would eat greedily until, the worst for liquor, they flopped off their perches into the bottom of the cage. Can we claim responsibility for the expression – "As tight as an owl – (or parrot)", I wonder?
I have mentioned that I used to cycle a lot, and it became a favourite run of ours to make non-stop for Skegness, and then return later by train. This ride usually just about knocked me out, and we could not repeat the effort often. Smaller routes were frequent, and one day Mr Anderson and Dr Owen Taylor came to me at the Hospital and said: – "We want you to do a test for us," and, as the story unfolded, I became quite intrigued and willing to comply. It took place at the time when Mr Ernest Hooley, the financier, was in process of floating various companies, among sent to launch the production of The Simpson Lever chain. Dr Taylor was Mr Hooley's medical adviser, and Hooley (also an adviser) suggested that Dr Taylor might profitably take up shares in his new concern, which it was estimated, could prove a veritable goldmine.
Now this particular cycle chain, which looked like a mass of levers, was reputed to create power, so that if your foot, for example, put 100 lbs. of pressure on the pedal you would get from 150 lbs. to 200 lbs. Of pressure on the wheel – which, as the geometry book says, is absurd.
There came a day when Dr Taylor and Mr Anderson said to me – "Will you ride two cycles in turn from Castle Boulevard and up Standard Hill to the Hospital? They were both geared alike, that one is driven by an unusual form of chain. We want to know is whether you notice any difference between the two."
Well, I rode each cycle in turn as they asked and at the end of my second trip was eagerly asked, "What about it? I said – "This one – the one with the funny chain on it is perfectly wonderful. It has come up just as if I were riding on the level!"
My remark had somewhat disastrous result, for in consequence of my finding, both these men put a good sum of money into the new concern – and, of course, they lost the lot. I have often reflected on the matter, and of course my conclusion must have been the result of pure imagination – but little did I then know how my approval would cost my friends dearly.
There was however the pleasing outcome – neither of these doctors ever showed the slightest feeling against me because of it and our friendships remained.
At the Hospital – and on the spot where the University Ward is now – we then had a Fever House. It was full of sufferers from Typhoid Fever exclusively. No other cases went there except the Typhoid's, for this Fever was then endemic in Nottingham and there was a lot of it to be found.
It happened sometimes that a patient with Typhoid Fever gets a perforation, and I well remember Mr Anderson operating on some of these cases, and I believe that one of the first of many such operations done with success and ultimately recovery in the patient was performed by him.
How different things are today, Typhoid Fever is a great rarity and much is the advance in preventative medicine to keep it so.
In those days of course we operated without rubber gloves, which were not produced, and I often wonder how we Surgeons didn't get our hands infected more with sepsis, seeing that we frequently had to plunge them in contact with all types of abscesses and infected wounds.
There were not nearly the number of operations there are today, and it was the custom for the House Physician to give all the anaesthetics, an arrangement which the Honorary Physicians did not like at all.
On the Wards we had some most efficient Sisters, and it was the practice that they should keep in immediate touch with their own particular Ward. Amongst the great characters of the period were Sister Smith and Sister Turnbull. The former was Sister of the Women's Surgical Ward, which, I believe, is now 2B. She was a very nice, kind, matronly, efficient and capable woman, whom everybody came to like. After long service at the Hospital she retired from office at a good age. She will be remembered as the Sister to whom we all thought Mr Crackle, the Apothecary-Dispenser might perhaps be married to – but as you know we never found out if this were so.
Sister Turnbull was on the Division I, being the Sister of the Women's Medical Ward. She also was very efficient, and claimed that she should be for (and she was very proud of this) she receives her training at The London Hospital in Whitechapel Road.
She was certainly a very good Sister and an absolute stickler for punctuality – so well betide if you arrive late for your morning round!
Before I became Senior Resident Officer and House Surgeon, I was House Physician and I remember the first morning when I went up to Sister Turnbull's Ward. It seems that for a nine o'clock visit I had arrived some five minutes late – and didn't she give me a piece of her mind! I made certain that for her Ward I was never late again. However, despite the somewhat dogmatic way, I liked her very much and I found that she was very kind to all her patients.
She too, like Sister Smith, remained until she had to retire on account of her years.
It was when House Physician that I was concerned with what was probably one of the last cases of Hydrophobia to occur in this country. I was seeing the Outpatients when a man from West Bridgford – a big powerful fellow, over six feet in height – a commercial traveller, I believe, came in. He appeared quite normal so I asked the reason for his attendance. He replied that in fact he was in a terribly nervous state. "You see, Doctor, these last two days I have had terrible attacks of nervousness, and I ought to tell you that about a month ago I was severely bitten by a dog in West Bridgford. It was destroyed of course, for it was assumed to be mad."
Now, as by this time I did not like the look of the man, I told him that he'd better come in for treatment, but in the meanwhile I gave him a glass of water to drink, which soon gave him a kind of spasm – a result which tended to verify my conclusion – he had hydrophobia!
I put in in the Isolation and sent for Dr Ransom. We agreed that in all probability he was a case of hydrophobia, but neither of us has seen a case before. Later on, this patient became very violent, and we had to depute three men to keep him in bed – yet in spite of everything we did, he was dead within twelve hours.
Mr Anderson used to tell me that, when he was House Surgeon (he was House Surgeon for 10 years, holding, I think, that office longer than any before him) – he once had another man in the Hospital suffering from Hydrophobia.
In the night this man got out of bed, and ran amok, creating great disturbance and crashing things about the corridors, upon which the frightened staff locked all doors. Anderson, who was then insult charge, went out to tackle the man in the corridor. There was a terrific struggle apparently and both men fell and rolled on the floor, but Anderson held insufficiently for others to run in and help, so that the man was eventually overpowered.
I felt this was a very plucky thing for a man like Anderson to have done, and it must have had great effect in calming the normally unruffled Staff and in further cementing their confidence in him.
At this period to railway companies, the Midland and the Great Northern, ran into Nottingham.
If we Residents wrote and asked, it was the generous custom of either Company to providers with first-class returns to any place of our choosing on their systems – a kindness which was very much appreciated and was very convenient.
The generosity arose, it seems, from the fact that we were called upon to treat a lot of the Railway employees in the Hospital – and this facility was the Company's mark of gratitude.
Soon after I came to the Hospital I began to take an interest in X-rays, which had been discovered a little while earlier. I found that a Mr Simpson, working at University College in Shakespeare Street, had been experimenting with these, then very novel, X-rays. I got to know him, and suggested "Why not let us take a photograph of a foreign body in somebody!" You see, we were constantly getting at the General some man or woman with, say a metal splinter, or maybe a needle, embedded in their fingers, and so I soon found a woman who had broken a needle in her hand, took around to Mr Simpson who carried out the photography – and there was the needle to be seen quite plainly!
This picture was published in the local papers, the novelty of it causing quite a stir at that time. At any rate it must have been amongst the very first X-ray photographs ever taken in Nottingham.
This chapter which relates to my early days at the General would be incomplete without some reference to Mr Keely, who was for many years, both before and after my resident days, the Honorary Secretary of the Hospital. He was an amusing bird and was proud to be a Nottingham man. In actual fact he lived at the Cedars before Sir Charles Seely brought that house as the Convalescent Home, and I fancy that, after that day, Keely never went near the place again. Keely had an imposing moustache and was a thin, fair, little man, whose misfortune it was to have recurring bouts of gout. I do not know why he should thus have suffered, for he certainly did not get gout from any high living or excesses, but I would not put it past him to like a couple when the chance arose! We were all very fond of Keely, and it is with affection that I shall always remember him.
Many a yarn about the Hospital and its inmates could appear here – but I must bring this first phase to a close. In doing so, I should like to say that I had one of the happiest periods of my life during the time that I was at the General as a Resident.
I now look back on those times with great gratitude to my many friends and colleagues who made my association with this Hospital when of real pleasure and that over a good span of years.
In such a Hospital there must be sorrows, but there was also much gladness – and I am gratified to recall that there was ever a will to press toward something better. It is my blessing to have seen that will achieve its immediate end, and to find today the same will being expressed – a will to go further in providing for the future.
It is there that the torch is being carried – and I can do better than sit by, watch and repeat, have faith in it, for it deserves your trust.