1.       Centenary Celebrations
2.       Out with the Old and in with the New
3.       43 Years of Life and Surgery - Pam Ball
4.       The Croft
5.       The most important item of news this week - 100 years ago
6.       Centenary Dinner
7.       Trustees of the Post Grad Centre
8.       The report book of the Stourport MOH - 1886

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On the same: day, in the same place, and exactly 100 years later, we held our centenary AGM. Thanks to the generosity of Thursfield's and Westons, and the organizational skills of our secretaries, we were indeed able to hold this meeting at 27 Church Street . The only member to don Victorian costume was, most appropriately, Mr. R.E.Gibbins, previously senior surgeon at Kidderminster General Hospital , and a very worthy successor to the Strettons. Sincere thanks of the society go to Messrs Thursfields for enabling us to make this event so memorable.


Monday 25th October 1993. Sir Richard Bayliss, KCVO , MD , FRCS. Late Physician to Her Majesty the Queen and consultant at Westminster Hospital . Talked about 102 years of Thyroid disorders. Tuesday 26th October 1993 Evening meeting with 3 speakers. Graeme Wilcox talked about Dr. Roden, Jos Williams talked about Dr. Masterson and Mark Mantle talked about the 'Stretton Dynasty'. Wednesday 27th October 1993 Clinicopathological conference at the Post Graduate Centre. Friday 29th October 1993 Centenary Dinner at the Gainsborough House Hotel

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Thank you for the honour of electing me as your president for the past year. I owe a great deal of gratitude to the officers of the society. whose untiring work is so important for its success. The newsletter had gone from strength to strength culminating in the Centenary edition. On your behalf, I would like to congratulate the Editor. Dr. Graeme Wilcox, for his hard work and vision. I feel the newsletter is an important way of keeping the members of the society in touch. Many thanks Graeme for all your hard work. Many thanks also to our printing and publishing editor, Dr. Barrie Davies, for the excellent service he has provided to the society in the printing of the newsletter. We are indebted to him. I would also like to thank the members of the social committee who are responsible for organizing the various functions. David Malcomson and Wendy Kingston carry out this work without any fuss. All these people have helped to organize another successful year for the society.




It is a cliche but there is really no other way of saying it - I am honoured and absolutely delighted to be elected your president for this centenary year. The Kidderminster Medical Society was formed 100 years ago today to counter a threat to

ethical medicine posed by local medical associations. Over the years it has been a very important factor that has united the doctors and dentists working within the district in general practice and in the hospital. We are now faced with the ultimate division, that between purchases and provider, and we need a unifying force more than ever. Thus, in my opinion, the aim of the Kidderminster medical Society now must be to keep doctors and dentists in hospital and general practice meeting and talking together. The motto, very slightly modernised, is still amazingly appropriate :- 'IT BECOMES ALL WISE PERSONS TO GATHER TOGETHER AND CONVERSE'.

In this time of great change I would like to add a superb prayer, attributed to St. Francis :- 'God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference'.

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I have enjoyed a very varied career. It stemmed from the fact that originally I really wanted to study mathematics. My second choice was veterinary surgery, but when they could not take me for 3 years I turned to medicine, starting at Birmingham Medical School in 1945, to qualify with honours in 1950

I followed Michael Drury as Jimmy Leather's House Surgeon at Birmingham General. John Fulford, his registrar, gave me lots of operating - gall bladders, gastrectomies and so on. This stood me in very good stead when I arrived at Kidderminster as RSO having done Casualty and Orthopaedics and taken my fellowship in the meantime, but I had done no more general surgery. There were nominally 4 residents, but usually only 2 or 3, so now I had no shortage of surgical experience,

John arrived when we were down to one resident (me) and I was desperate for help. He subsequently became our first ever Casualty Registrar. We got married in 1957 and interestingly, our reception was held in the same house in Church Street as our Society's Centenary AGM. These were lean times so I did various clinical assistant jobs including anaesthetics. I joined the plastic unit m 1958 to replace the senior registrar who had left without notice. As I knew no plastic surgery at all, I had to learn very rapidly. I rejoined Kidderminster as clinical assistant at the end of the year. When they started an accident unit I switched to that and stayed for 5 years. It was very hard to fit this job (no house surgeon) in with the family, and when they eventually became mutinous, I was glad to rejoin the plastic unit although sadly my predecessor had left because of multiple sclerosis. Oliver Mansfield was my boss. He is stiff alive but has severe rheumatoid arthritis. I concurrently did various jobs at Kidderminster ending with 17 happy years on Casualty. I continued doing plastic surgery, largely at Sandwell and Good Hope under Henry Goldin.

Throughout I have kept my feet on the ground by doing a surgery, baby clinic and minor ops one day a week in my husband's practice. However, I think my greatest personal achievement was obtaining my Open University Mathematics Honours Degree and Masters while I was fully committed in the NHS. I officially retired in 1991, but have worked for 2 years past my sell by date as a locum. I am happy to leave the hassle of what the NHS has become although I shall greatly miss the patients and the excellent and dedicated staff with whom I have worked for so long. Perhaps it seems a little late to take up veterinary surgery at this point ……perhaps.

Pamela M. Ball


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I have been in communication with Mr. Malcolm Cooper, chairman of the North Worcestershire Health Authority, who was somewhat disturbed by our 'news in brief item in the centenary newsletter. Mr. Cooper pointed out that at present the authority technically owns the Croft, having had the ownership trans/erred from the Kidderminster Health Authority. However, should the authority no longer need the Croft as headquarters, then part of the asset would again be available for the use of Kidderminster Trust. I have a suggestion - why doesn't the authority move its offices to the now empty Mill Street Hospital , thereby restoring the Croft to clinical use.

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A serious fire involving loss of life and imperilling the safety of many persons, broke out about Bam on Sunday morning at the Borough Hospital at Kidderminster . The alarm given by the steam fire whistle aroused the whole town, and when it was known that the Borough Hospital was in flames it threw the inhabitants into a state of the most painful excitement, there being a large number of inmates in the institution, and the question of their safety causing intense anxiety particularly among those who had friends there. The hospital is situated about a mile and a half from Kidderminster and the building that was destroyed was erected about 9 years ago at the time of a smallpox epidemic in Kidderminster and it has since been used as occasion has required for the reception of patients suffering from various infectious diseases. it's size may be realised from the fact that it has once had a maximum of 35 patients and on Sunday there were 28 there, all suffering from scarlet fever and nearly all of them children under 10 years of age. When first erected the hospital was not intended to be a permanent structure and it was built of wood with a felt roof tarred and covered with broken shells; and internally it was lined with Willesden paper which is regarded as non inflammable. Every provision had been made in case of fire. 2 trap-doors had been placed in the passage on the end of each of the wards and these were only fastened with bolts so that there might be the readiest possible means of exit. It is apparently owing to the existence of these doors and the means of exit they gave on Sunday morning that the disaster which occurred was not intensified by a great loss of life. The fire which broke out came with a-terrible swiftness on the place. The mischief was already practically past remedy when the inmates themselves discovered the fire. In the wards the patients had all had their breakfasts and the servants were preparing breakfasts for the nurses when the fire broke out. Miss Mulligan, the matron's, rooms were in the centre part of the building and her attention was caught while in her bedroom by a crackling noise. She went to a door looking into a kind of hall where the nurses take their meals and perceived the ceiling was on fire and the wood was crackling as the flames spread. – The nurses and the servants also about the same time became aware of the fire. An attempt was made to check it with hand grenades and Miss Mulligan ran to the telephone and rang up the exchange and the police station but could not hear any reply owing to the roar of the flames. Every energy was then directed to the rescue of the inmates and every second was precious in the matter. Although the fire started in the centre of the building the puffs of wind not only fired the nearest wing but seemed to back and brought the opposite one as quickly into the grip of the flames. Miss Mulligan had on only her nightdress and a pair of slippers and she had no time to seize any more clothing. Some of the patients were dressed but others had only their nightdresses on and the only point aimed at was to bear them swiftly from the doomed structure. Other persons hastened to the spot to render what aid they could in rescuing the patients. The entrance was impassable from the fire but the trap-doors, before referred to, were fortunately available and turned to account. Through these, as it was believed, all the patients were either carried or walked and they were taken to the nurses bedrooms in a 2 storey brick building not far from the hospital. When they were counted, Miss Mulligan was distressed to find that instead of 28 there were only 27 accounted for and it was found that Florence Pugh aged 18 months of Yew Tree Road Kidderminster was missing. The fate of the poor child was sealed for the return into the furnace of fire which the hospital had become was utterly impossible and indeed so impetuously had the flames wrapped the whole place in their folds that 8 minutes after the steam fire whistle sounded, part of the roof collapsed. The rescue of the inmates, save the child who perished, was accomplished in about 5 or 6 minutes. Had it been night time instead of day the consequenses of the fire must have been most calamitous. After the alarm was raised in Kidderminster , the fire brigade with their steamer and manual were soon galloping to the scene of the fire. A quarter of mile of hose had to be run out by the firemen but nothing remained for them to do except extinguish what remained of the burning structure. The fire is supposed to have originated from the stove in the nurses room which had only been there a few months. The Borough Hospital was built in response to a Smallpox epidemic that began in late 1883. The hospital stood on a 5 acre site on the Stourport Road close to Bewdley railway cutting. The first Smallpox case was admitted in January 1884 and the epidemic lasted until March 1884 with 10 deaths out of 83 cases. The Borough Hospital was subsequently used for treatment of other infectious diseases including Typhoid (110 deaths out of 1200 cases in an epidemic between August and December 1884) and Scarlet Fever (average length of stay 47 days). After the fire the hospital was quickly rebuilt and extended and was in regular use until 1936 when it was decided that cases requiring isolation would be sent to Hayley Green Hospital . The Borough Hospital Site is now part of Foley Park Housing Estate{ - the hospital lodge still stands, ? occupied, on the bank on the opposite side of the road to Charlie Brown's Garage).

Thank to the eagle eye of Mark Mantle for this 100 year old titbit. (and for more fire raising stories - page 4 II)

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Some 130 members and guests  descended upon the Gainsborough House Hotel on Friday 29th October 1993. After an excellent meal, the toast to the society was proposed by Professor Sir Michael Drury, until recently Professor of General Practice at Birmingham University . Having been at one time a clinical assistant at Kidderminster , he was able to colour his speech with reminiscences of Mill Street and of such as Mr. Doran in the '50s. Dr. John Wilner then proposed the toast to the guests, after which the President and Mrs. Taylor led the way onto the dance floor. The evening was much enjoyed by all who attended.

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A Short Update Prepared by Dr. Geoff Campion

An appeals committee was formed in early 1968 after it was decided to raise the money to build a Post Graduate Medical centre on the new hospital site. It subsequently became necessary to apply for charitable status for the appeal, in order that covenants, with their tax advantages, could be used for contributions to the appeal. The required committee of trustees was therefore formed from the appeals committee who had monitored all the financial arrangements and the building of the centre. Thus, the chairman, Mr. R.E. Gibbins (Consultant Surgeon, now retired), Dr. J.G. Ball (General Practitioner), Mr. J.A. James (Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, now retired), Dr. J. Sheward (Consultant Paediatrician, now deceased) and Mr. Don Wooley (Retired Bank Manager as treasurer) formed the original committee of trustees who were required to act as guarantors for the financial commitment.

Since the opening of the centre, the trustees have continued in being and are responsible for the prudent investment of surplus funds from the appeal- which money is mainly intended for any future building but requests for financial assistance for educational requirements for the centre are also considered. The trustees also insure the fabric of the building as, though it is now Crown Property, it needs to be ensured that a capital sum of money for rebuilding is available should disaster befall.

Mr. Gibbins and Dr. Campion remain from the original trustees and they are now joined by Dr. John Murray (Consultant Anaesthetist) and Dr. Graeme Wilcox (General Practitioner). Mr. Charles Waring, a retired bank manager is the honorary treasurer who supervises and submits the accounts which are audited annually and gives his expert financial advice. Maureen O'Neill (Dr. Robertson's secretary) acts as secretary to the trustees.

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Those who were present at the historical meeting held to commemorate the centenary of the Kidderminster Medical Society will be familiar with the descriptive powers of this remarkable medical man. If there had been time, I would have included this short account of how not to deal with fire if The article was written shortly after a spectacularly disastrous fire in Kidderminster in 1886 (see dreadful fire in Kidderminster on this edition).

"The recent disaster in Kidderminster should remind us of the extreme insecurity of the greater part. of. this town (Stourport) if a fire of any gravity should break out in any of the streets of crowded old houses with only so- called party walls between them. Even if our engine were of a more reasonable size and power it would be utterly useless as a means of extinguishing it. For, although water is popularly regarded as the opposite to fire, it is, except in overwhelming volume, quite the reverse. To pour a relatively small quantity of water into a mass of incandescent matter is to add fresh fuel and a more dangerous combustible. At a bright red heat, water is decomposed into its constituent gasses, and the towering flames one sees at a great fire are entirely due to the hydrogen (or it's compounds) of water thrown into a white hot mass, which is utterly insufficient to cool. Had we some mechanical means for throwing up much dry earth, or sand, the results would be incomparably better. But a small quantity of saline matter will act much better still- common salt, sulphate of soda, nitrate of magnesia or chloride of calcium – the latter is perhaps the best, from its cheapness and ready solubility. 

The fire grenades' so extensively advertised are dangerous missiles and almost useless; they contain, I find, only a solution of common salt and sal-ammoniac, and are dear at 2 pence apiece. It should be generally known that a handful of sulphur thrown into the grate will immediately extinguish the burning soot in a chimney. I believe the board does not own a fire escape.


G.F. Masterton, MD. June 1886

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