Nottingham Hospitals Archives 2011
“The Trent and I go wandering by”
Robert George Hogarth
"Personalities and Projects – In Passing"
At a Point-To-Point Meeting – I think it was of the Belvior, and held at Barrowby, near Grantham – I was walking around the Enclosure when a hunting man rushed towards me, and in a loud, autocratic and excited voice, yelled at me – "Hi! You doctor fellow, come here! There's a man hurt and we want you in the tent!"
I was not used to being so addressed or so peremptorily summoned, so I said to him, "To whom, in Hells named you think you are talking – one of your stable lads? If you want me to attend to someone who is hurt, you can ask me in a. Civil and proper manner." He was all apologies, and said that excitement had got the better of him – but I knew from experience that these hunting people were given to talking thus, and no more than one occasion it had annoyed me very much.
However, I went into the tent, already very crowded, and I searched found for the fellow who was injured. Pushing my way through the crowd, and not feeling in the best of temper I came at last upon the man sitting in a chair and holding his arm, obviously in some pain.
In front of the man was a younger fellow clad in riding breeches and a bright coloured sweater.
I said to the young man – "For God sake man, get out of the light and let me see to the injury." So doing, I gave him a push, nearly knocking him over. "I am a doctor," I said, "and I've spent some five minutes trying to find this injured man."
You can imagine my feelings when all of a sudden it dawned on me that the young man whom I had so rudely pushed aside, was none other than Edward Prince of Wales. Foolish of me not to have recognised him sooner, for had we not met many a time before the house of our mutual friend Colonel Charles Birkin.
And when the Prince recognised me, and burst out laughing. I made profuse apologies for my treatment and busied myself in dealing with what proved to be a fractured collarbone. The Prince of Wales watched me put up the fracture, and for some reason or other I did not adopt standing methods, but put it up in a patents way of my own. The Prince was a bit mystified (having himself had quite an experience of fractures) and said "Well, I've never seen any collarbone put up like that! I’ve broken both mine – just feel them and tell me what you think about them."
Doctoring makes you realise how small and how strange world is ours. I remember being called to Lincoln once, to perform an operation on one of the Canons of the Cathedral.
The nursing home in which he was lying is situated at the top of the steep hill, near the Cathedral. The operation was to be a major one, so I said to the Doctor who had sent for me, "I think I had better see the old gentleman before I do the operation." So I went to his room and greeted him with, "Good morning, don't you worry, I am feeling in top hole form!" This was one of my somewhat novel ways of giving courage to people, for it broke down the ice, and was so blunt that it made him believe that I at least was confident of success, even if they felt nervous!
The old Canon stared at me, and I wondered if I had somewhat annoyed him – not a bit of it – he was smiling and having summed me up said – "You are my Hogarth." "My Hogarth," I answered, "and what makes you use that expression?" – "Simply," he replied, "that you are my Hogarth of years ago, for I was your Form Master at Felsted, you remember?"
And so the small boy of some years past had the responsibility of operating on his erstwhile Form Master. But he stood the responsibility, and blood to say, and the patient got on well, which is all that really mattered.
I might have suffered in the past at his hands. I am glad he did not add mine!
With the growing reputation which came my way in connection with treatment of injuries sustained by our Notts footballers, it soon started to spread to the Hunting Field, for I noticed that for most of the serious hunting accidents in the district around, they used to send for me. The South Notts., The Belvoir, The Quorn and The Cottesmore all had me "on-call", and particularly during this period I saw many a sad fatality. I call to mind, the outright death in the hunting field of Lady Victoria Bullock, daughter of the late Lord Derby, Lord Harrington, Mrs Greenall, Mr George Hubbersty, Mr Bainbridge and Miss Le Marchant.
Nor, unfortunately were these all, and with them many a score who suffered serious injury.
I was consequent upon an accident in the hunting field that I was called in to perform an operation for complex and serious internal injuries to Miss Rosemary Laycock, the daughter of General Sir Joseph Laycock of Wiseton. I am proud in my belief that this is the most successful operation I performed to put to right such serious internal injury. Miss Rosemary Laycock is now married and, I am glad to say, fit and well.
I also attended Steve Donoghue when his mount fell in one of the races in Nottingham. He had a serious injury to his leg, just above and involving the ankle joint. It was a comminuted fracture and I was called in by one Racecourse Doctor, Dr Paul, to see him. He came into my Nursing Home and was in for about six weeks and made a very good recovery, I am glad to say. What a nice man he was and I think his generosity to others have helped to bring about his bankruptcy at one time. He was always very grateful to me for what I did to him and he gave me some wonderful tips – two of which won at 35 to 1 against, and I always accepted his tips with confidence, I got a pretty good fee out of each, to say nothing of the good bets I had on Brown Jack. By the way, I saw Brown Jack during the war when I was inspecting hospitals down at Market Harborough. I was staying with Lady Zia Wernher, to whom he belonged. He looks very well and was very happy and well looked after.
When the great Hackenschmidt, the wrestler, came to the Nottingham Empire, he had an accident and hurt his shoulder. I had him as a patient and as he was due to wrestle in the Albert Hall in London in 10 days’ time against the terrible Turk, Madrali, I had to advise him to put off the encounter. This caused a tremendous lot of trouble at the time. However, it took place later on and Hackenschmidt beat him.
Very naturally this professional attendance upon so many distinguished people, and upon County families, brought me into contact with a wide and influential circle with a good number of whom I still keep in touch and I'm proud to number amongst my friends.
Influence is one thing, a spice of good luck another! It is to the latter which I attributed the Honorary Degree of LL.D., conferred upon me by the Edinburgh University (a distinction of which any man would be proud) in 1927 after I had handed over the Presidency of the B.M.A. to Sir Robert Philip. I was particularly pleased when I found my fellow recipients to be Lord Moynihan and Lord Dawson of Penn.
When, in 1928, the Late Duke of Portland formed the Nottinghamshire Branch of the British Empire Cancer Campaign, the public meeting which gave the campaign its inauguration did me an honour in appointing me there Chairman, a position which I held for nearly twenty years.
The campaign has been a great success in Nottinghamshire, which is much to my delight, for I was from the early days very interested in the possibility of our forming a Radio Therapeutic Department at the General Hospital, in which, as you know, my chief interest centred.
To do so, meant raising a lot of money, for it was not only necessary to buy Radium (very much more expensive then than now) but also all the Deep X-Ray Therapy Plant.
But the effort has been successful and the result is that one of my dreams is fulfilled, for we now have in Nottingham one of the finest Radio-Therapeutic Centres in the County, complete with a highly skilled staff of technicians and operators. Their work is of course of the highest importance, and is most efficiently carried out. Recently they have done me the honour of naming it The Hogarth Radio Therapeutic Centre, for which I am very grateful.
My recent mention of Lord Moynihan makes me recall that in 1930 when President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, it was he who persuaded me to apply for one of the vacancies on the Council of the College.
Of the seventeen candidates all except myself had been from Teaching Schools and Universities – and most of them were leading surgeons in London. The election is by postal vote, taken from all the Fellows of the Royal College and over the whole Empire. To my own surprise I was elected, and not only elected but placed second in the list! There was some extra gratification in that I was possibly the first of the Surgeons elected to that Council who had not been associated with a Teaching School or a University.
The appointment was for eight years, and not only was I proud of the office, for it called me to Council Meetings in London once monthly – and often more frequently, for there were Committees to attend – but it also afforded me great pleasure and a widening of my interests.
But another great pleasure also came for me, for meanwhile the General Hospital had paid me the signal honour – they had named one of their Chief Wards after me, made me Vice Chairman of the Board of Management, a Trustee, and finally President of the Hospital. I am the only Doctor upon whom that Presidency has been conferred, and even though the holding of such an office can prove a costly item (possibly £300 per annum to carry out the things expected of you), I am immensely proud of having served the hospital thus.
Some while previously, in my presidential address to the B.M.A., I had advocated the provision of Pay Bed Wings or blocks for the Voluntary Hospitals.
I felt that they were much-needed for those who could afford an expensive Nursing Home, and yet who were perhaps not fully entitled to the charity provided in the Free Wards. To quote the passage: – "The interests of the middle classes deserve attention no less than those of any other class. May we not therefore look forward to a time when every General Hospital will be well equipped with paying wards, or have a Paying Hospital in association with it, served by the same doctors and the same nurses…. The middle-class patient, moreover, has always been the principal sufferer from the high fees of the Nursing Home, another Institution which has a necessary place in our existing system in dealing with the curing of disease, but which is by no means immune from all justified criticism."
My words were spoken in 1926, and though I continually pressed my point in the right quarters, I was sorry to find that Nottingham was one of the last places to adopt this provision.
Somewhat half-heartedly it was decided upon, and desiring to bring the matter to fruition, and speedily so, I undertook to raise the necessary money, in which great task I had exceptional help from many.
The principal initial benefactor was Mr J. D. Player who, with the usual generosity which he has displayed in Nottingham, started us off with £25,000.
Finally we raised over £63,000 and that is briefly how the present Pay Bed Wing of the General Hospital came into being. It's 43 beds are always occupied and its popularity proves it to have a long felt want.
Something over twenty years ago I came to have visualised (perhaps rather before the general public were ready to consider colour except it), that a State Hospital Service might one day come into being. My then advanced views did not meet with approval, indeed they formed the background of my resignation from the Board of Management and from the Trusteeship of the Hospital.
It is however, most interesting in the light of the interim and the present-day deliberations, that in 1926 I should have expressed the following in the public address –
"Other countries have their State Hospital Services but letters stand by the principle of voluntaryism in the hospital at whatever cost of energy and patience required for the adequate provision and efficient management."
You see, I visualise that if the Voluntary Hospitals were to retain their status in the Country they must get together with a definite policy and must cooperate more closely with the municipal and other hospitals. There was too much parochialism!
I saw no harm in their taking grants from the Local Authorities in order to provide for expansion for adequate dealing with all the ailments of all the people who wish to use them.
My views, as I have noted above, met with serious disapproval, and in some cases even personal loss of friendship. However, be that as it may, my own special thought was for the well-being and the general advancement of that hospital which I loved so well, the General Hospital, Nottingham.
In my eagerness I had perhaps pushed the matter too far, or expressed myself at times too bluntly, but there is some satisfaction to me in these later years of my life to find that what I had prophesied in this connection had come about and that my suggestions have been adopted by the Hospital, even though I momentarily lost friend or two in my zealous pronouncements!
Another project was the Hospital Saturday Movement, and when Mr William Player resigned from the Chairmanship of the Hospital, and it's Hospital Saturday Movement, I accepted the Presidency of the latter, and held the position for a good many years.
I started by pressing the advisability of having some definite contribution scheme, for though some £30,000 was raised in a normal year, it struck me that we might almost certainly double that amount by a contributory scheme. My belief did not find the acceptance by the majority, even though I urge that other large towns had both wisely and profitably used such a means of raising money. The controversy ultimately reached a climax and I resigned the Presidency.
But, having now adopted the scheme, which I had so long before proposed, our General Hospital is receiving something over £100,000 per annum as a result.
Without such contributory schemes, I wonder, could the many hospitals spread over a land, have existed? How much more would we in Nottingham have been able to do had this threefold increase in income come about so many years earlier!
Time heals wounds, for these were not too deep, and I am happy to think that I am now very good friends with all my antagonists, but that is, I enjoyed the full friendship of all, the Board of Management, the Doctors, and last but by no means least, with Colonel Pearson, the Chairman.
To be a Magistrate hardly proves a Project – though it certainly brings one into touch with personalities! I was On the Bench first in 1923, and having only just resigned, still keep my name on the supplemental list.
I have liked the work, and attend in my due turn, believing that, apart from the need to give such service when asked, a great benefit is derived from the insight which a Magistrate can obtain into human nature, and the differing environments in which man finds himself.
I have now some more to say of a personality, for I regarded Lord Moynihan of Leeds as one who was most probably the greatest surgeon we have known in this Country since the days of Lister. His contribution to the development of British and International Surgery was immense, and I am proud to have had his friendship, his advice, and personal assistance in much of my work. He had an exaggerated opinion of my own ability – but I learnt much from him. He answered my call on two great occasions, firstly to give the Opening Address on Cancer in the Albert Hall, to inaugurate our British Empire Cancer Campaign, and secondly to open one of the new Operating Theatres at the General Hospital.
His first visit was a memorable one, for few who were present will forget the absolutely engaging manner in which this polished orator held the audience, and to most of the Medical profession his oratorship came as a pleasing surprise, for the art of public speaking is not one in which our profession usually excels.
When Lord Moynihan opened the new operating theatre, at the General, it was upon the generous presentation of Sir Louis Pearson, at which time the work was being started on the second of these operating Theatres, the gift of Sir Thomas Shipstone, which I, myself, had the honour of opening some twelve months later.
The three men in the Medical Profession, who have made the greatest impression on my life are Lord Moynihan, Lord Webb Johnson and Mr Victor Bonny. I can truly say of these great men that I never had a conversation with one of them without learning something, and I am glad to think that I have been fortunate enough to have their friendship.
To bring this medley of Personalities and Projects to a close, I have two little yarns to spin!
About the time that I was elected President of the B.M.A. (and of course then considering myself "no end of a fellow!") I was provided by chance with quite a good tale to tell, against myself, at one or two of the Dinners which accompanied the Presidency.
Once out in the Country at a consultation I came round a road junction to find two men, one old and one younger, lying in the middle of the road and smashed cycle close by. I got out of the car and gathered that the young man had a broken collarbone, and the older man long and rather deep cut in head, both injuries the result of the younger man cycling into the older.
I was busy rendering aid to both when I realised that a crowd was gathering, a crowd of miners returning from the pits. The first conclusion of the crowd (by no means friendly upon this surmise), was that I had crashed into both of those injured!
One voice said "Who's that bloke?" "Why, he's the Doctor," said another – "in fact," he said, "It's ‘Ogarth, ‘Ogarth o’ Nottingham." The first speaker said " ‘Ogarth, never heard of ‘im, anyway he's a bloody funny looking doctor – I wouldn't let him doctor me!"
It was such a remark that pulled the then President of the B.M.A. completely abruptly from his pedestal!
We Surgeons are often asked – "What's the highest fee you ever got for an operation, and was it worth it? This story answers the question: –
A very well-known philanthropist and benefactor of all Hospitals engaged me to perform on him a serious operation. Under the circumstances I did not think that 150 guineas was too much to charge, and I duly rendered an account for that amount.
To show you that this philanthropy was not at an end I quote "My highest fee was 300 guineas," for this kind of fellow not only insisted upon giving me double that which I had asked, but, I am glad to say, did not forget to double the fee all who had anything to do with the operation, which he duly paid to the Anaesthetists, the assistance and to the Sisters – a magnanimous recognition!
May I now endorse an old popular saying: –
"The surest way to health, say that you will,
Is never to suppose we shall be ill,
Most of these evils, we poor mortals know,
From Doctors – and imagination flow!"
From any measure of success to which I may claim, I feel it no personal attainment, indeed I attribute very much to my friends, who have so greatly helped me and have so well supported me up on many occasions.
It is then to them that I pay tribute, for I should be mean in my failure to acknowledge such debt. I cannot mention all, for they are legion, I am thankful to say!
First I must recall the McCraiths.
Mr and Mrs James McCraith, afterwards Sir James and Lady McCraith. They were amongst the very earliest friends I had in Nottingham and they were almost lavishing their hospitality and support. Lady McCraith was the perfect hostess – no one could give such enjoyable Tennis Parties, Dinner Parties, etc. or manage them so well. It seems fitting that my niece should marry Sir Douglas.
No reference of this nature would similarly be complete without the mention of Mr and Mrs Charles Crompton of Stanton Hall. This Charles Crompton was Chairman of the Stanton Ironworks Company, and was one of my earliest patients.
I remember he had something the matter with his heel and he came to me because of my connection with the Forest Football Club, and from that moment until now (and I am glad to think that Mr and Mrs Crompton are both alive) they have certainly become the most intimate friends I have ever had. They have both entrusted their lives to me on more than one occasion. I shall have occasion to mention later the wonderful fishing and shooting which I have enjoyed in Mr Crompton's company.
The next friends I can think of have helped me so very much worth Mr and Mrs Stanley Bourne of Epperstone Manor. They didn't always live there, of course. I have had much to do with them professionally and it was a great blow to me when Stanley Bourne died during the war. Yes, I also had wonderful fishing and shooting with them.
I have mentioned how I became acquainted with the Duchess of Portland in the form of the Cripples Guild and that led me to a great friendship with the Portlands, and when the Duke had a very serious injury to his leg, he did me the honour of asking me to attend him, which I did. That naturally was very good for my reputation, particularly as the lake cleared up satisfactorily. My wife and I receive much hospitality both at Welbeck Abbey and Langwell in Scotland, where we were there guests on several occasions. Here again I shall have occasion to mention, in another chapter, the wonderful shooting I had at Welbeck for many years.
I now come to Lord and Lady Savile of Rufford Abbey, and it was owing to the fact that I had the honour of operating on both of them that brought me later in my life into such close contact with them. I had more kindness from them than from anyone I have ever known. They provided me with wonderful shooting, and extended a great deal of hospitality, and after Lord Savile’s death I found myself appointed one of his Trustees, and I was chiefly instrumental in selling the whole of the Rufford Estate for them. I also looked after the Estates, as my co-Trustee, Lord Kinnaird lived in Scotland and was not on the spot nearly so much as I was. Lord Savile was the most perfect Victorian and Edwardian type of an aristocratic gentleman, and Lady Savile was very pretty and had the most attractive and delightful personality that one could possibly desire to meet. She still has all these attributes today.
I must also mention their wonderful children. The present Lord Savile and his brother Henry and sister Deirdre are the most delightful children I have ever met. I can honestly say that I have spent more happy times with them when they were little than I ever did with any young people in my life. They were so clever, so amusing, so it easily entertained and so happy in everything we did together. Now of course they are all grown up; both the boys were in the war. Lord Savile went through the Burma Campaign, and Henry was severely wounded in Italy. He was in the Grenadier Guards, which was my son's Regiment.
I have mentioned before that the loss of our son was a heavy blow to my wife and myself. We had received so much pleasure out of his full life, and particularly since he had his success at games – her matter so much after my own heart – for he achieved much from the early days of Prep School cricket and football until he related captain and the Harrow Football XI and was a member of the Harrow Cricket Team.
Happily enough we both now derive a great deal of pleasure through his children, for we are proud to possess, dare I say it, four very pretty granddaughters.
I should fail if I did not mention Mr and Mrs Frederick Acton, because they both were always great supporters are mine and did much to help me. What wonderful hospitality and kindness we received when we went to stay with them at their house at Seacroft.
And then there was the brothers Player – especially J. D. and his wife. Their support, their great kindness and their confidence in my professional ability was very inspiring, and I shall always remember both the Players with gratitude and affection.
General Sir Joseph Laycock and Lady Laycock have also been wonderful supporters; both hospitable and having great faith in my abilities, after all, I think I have operated on nearly all of the family at one time or another! I often think how lucky they all are to have survived. I still see them, and the General, like me, will no doubt agree that he is getting old and a bit worn out, but what a wonderful career he has had!
Lord and Lady Charles Bentinck also played a very important part in my life, and similarly Lord and Lady Belper have always been very kind and we have had many interesting, but I can't go on enumerating all the people who have helped me so much in the world, and to whom I am so deeply grateful. I will finish by an equally deserving mention of Col. Charles and Mrs Birkin of Lamcote House, Radcliffe-on-Trent – our friends for many, many years.