The boardroom is perhaps the most historically important and interesting room at City Campus, now called the Charles Hastings Building. Originally known as the physician's room, the boardroom was the location of the inaugural meeting of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association in 1832. This Association went on to become the British Medical Association (B.M.A.) in 1856.
A copy of Hastings' address to members of the inaugural meeting of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association in 1832 can be seen still in the overmantle in the boardroom, beneath a portrait of Hastings himself.
"I congratulate you, Gentlemen, that the day for forming a Provincial Medical and Surgical Association has, at length, arrived. An association which, I trust is destined to exercise no inconsiderable influence on the future progress of medical science. Feeling, as I have long done, the disadvantages under which the prosecutors of medicine, resident in English provincial towns have laboured, in consequence of the want of any system of co-operation, by which their separate exertions, for the promotion of our knowledge of the healing art, may be so united as to render them more influential, and more extensively useful; I cannot but hail this day, Hunc Lætum medicis diem, as one of peculiar promise; as one likely to lead to most important results.
THE BOARDROOM PAINTINGS
If you visit The Infirmary during one of their tour events, you can usually take a tour of the building which includes access to the historic boardroom. In this room are the portraits of eminent individuals who were important to the history of health and medicine in both Worcester and beyond.
The portraits belong to Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. When the former Castle Street branch of the Worcester Royal Infirmary closed and moved to the current location at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, the University of Worcester purchased the buildings and restored the boardroom to its former glory. This involved the relocation of the portraits from the Charles Hastings Education Centre's restaurant to their former home. The University paid for the paintings to be conserved, and for digitized copies of the portraits to replace the originals in the restaurant.
BISHOP ISAAC MADDOX (1697-1759)
Isaac Maddox was an Anglican clergyman, who had an active interest in medicine and science and did much good work for charity. He spent much of his early life in London but came to Worcester in 1743 when he became Bishop of the City. Maddox had not been in Worcester long before he launched his campaign for the foundation of an infirmary. In 1745, people of Worcester were occupied with plans for rebelling the Jacobite threat from the north but Maddox turned attention to the infirmary. He looked to the success of other Infirmaries e.g. Exeter. After the Infirmary was founded, Maddox played a leading part in planning and management.
On his memorial at the Cathedral: “Long may the sick and impotent bless the patron and those of this county the Institutor, of Infirmaries.” He preached at many other hospitals to spread the word about the importance of charity.
Dr. John wall (1708-1776)
John Wall was born in Powick to a grocer, who became the Mayor of Worcester. He was educated at King's School then Merton College, Oxford, and came back to practise in Worcester in 1738. He lived in Foregate Street and once he had died, the house became home to Charles Hastings. Along with Bishop Isaac Maddox, Wall was crucial in setting up the first Worcester Infirmary. Wall also founded Worcester Porcelain Works in 1751 and was a passionate artist.
Wall practised in Worcester until 1774 when a "lingering disorder" (presumably gout) forced him to retire.
james johnstone the elder (1730-1802)
James Johnstone of Galabank studied anatomy at University of Edinburgh under the famous physician Alexander Munro (the elder) and became member of Royal Society Medicine of Edinburgh. His brother, Edward, was a preacher in Kidderminster and told him the town sorely needed a physician - no less than 103 children had died in the previous year from a malignant sore throat, a disease of which James had made a particular study.
James took his chances and moved to Kidderminster, then to Bewdley. This began the Midlands medical legacy of the Johnstones. He had 11 children, 3 of whom became doctors. Two members of the Johnstone family are buried in cathedral. James made £100 in his first year, and soon afterwards his fame spread. He became a busy man with a successful practice. He visited patients all over the West Midlands and the West Country including Birmingham, Lichfield and Bath.
He mixed with a number of important medical and scientific men of the day, including Joseph Priestley and Erasmus Darwin. In 1788, he met King George iii and Queen Charlotte on their visit to Worcester. He also published on a huge range of medical topics, particularly fevers and how they were affected by climate, season and water supply. He and the younger James advised a tonic, rather than bleeding for fevers. He gave his patients mineral acids and like Wall, Peruvian bark for smallpox.
James Johnstone the Younger (1753-1783)
James' father called upon his son to assist at the Infirmary when he was 20 years old in 1774 and he was appointed physician in place of John Wall.
Like his father, James also visited the City Gaol to assess the health of prisoners. Unfortunately, James caught typhus from a prisoner and died in 1783 aged 30. His brother also caught the disease from him but survived.
His father took his position at the Infirmary and took a house, which was knocked down in 1849 to build Foregate Street Station.
William Russell (1718-1801)
William Russell was a part of the concerned group of medical men keen to establish an Infirmary in Worcester. His hand is on the scroll, which outlines the foundation of Silver Street Infirmary in 1745.
Russell was one of the longest serving surgeons. He remained active on the infirmary staff gratis for 48 years, resigning in 1793 when he was elected surgeon extraordinary. He apparently revolutionised the practise of surgery and amassed a fortune.
Knowing the propensity of the uneducated to apply to quacks for relief he once said as he dismissed an incurable patient: “Now I know you’ll apply to some old woman, or some possessor of a charm, to relieve you; in that case promise them no money until they have cured you; and then send them to me, and I will cheerfully pay them.”
In his portrait, he is 83 years old and is wearing the “traditional ‘physical’ wig.”
charles hastings (1794-1866)
He is most famous for founding the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association in 1832 in this very boardroom. The Association became the British Medical Association in 1856, which is now the most powerful professional body for medical practitioners in Britain. For more information about Charles Hastings, click here.
George Woodyatt joined in 1814. He settled in Worcester Foregate Street to wait to take up a place in the Infirmary. He died ten years later aged 60. His eldest daughter Hannah married Charles Hastings and their son was called George Woodyatt Hastings in his honour and later became an MP.
james pooke-sheppard (1784-1854)
Pooke-Sheppard was born in Hampshire. During the early 1800s, he trained to be a surgeon with some of London's most talented and famous surgeons, including Astley Cooper. Shortly after he qualified, he decided to relocate to Worcester in order to benefit from the fresh air and surrounding countryside.
He was appointed surgeon to Worcester Infirmary in 1819 and became vice-president of Worcestershire Medical and Surgical Society.
Not much is known about Knox-Blackall. His stature and dress, medical books and the aorta behind him suggest he was an important medical man. However, no records about him seem to survive and he is not referred to in any histories of Worcester Infirmary. A call for more information on him from a doctor writing to the British Medical Journal in 1890 also went unanswered.
We do know that his portrait was likely not painted by Joshua Reynolds. As Joan Lane suggests, Reynolds only painted three portraits of medical men and Knox-Blackall was not one of them. They mystery continues...
JOSEPH BANKS (1932-1937)
Joseph Banks was an important character in the Infirmary during the 1930s. In 1932 he welcomed the Prince of Wales to the Infirmary. the Prince of Wales opened a new wing of the hospital, consisting of operating theatres, an Orthopaedic Department and a Pathology Department, which Banks contributed £5000 to from his own money. This marked an important moment in the hospital's history.