The practice is thought to have been started shortly after 1860, by a Dr Lister. Not much is known about him and there are no records still in the practice. Long Eaton at that time was a small market town, midway between Nottingham and Derby. Sawley was an entirely separate village. The main industry of the town was lace making and the original Nottingham Lace was first manufactured in Long Eaton. The town has developed enormously since then, and especially since World Ward II. It is now a prosperous community with Sawley included in its border.
Little is known about the early years of the practice, but by the turn of the century, Drs Beane and Moseley were in partnership. The practice was firmly establihsed at 25 High Street, where it was to remain for over 70 years. This was a large Victorian house, situated between the Prince of Wales public house and large shops. The premises have since been occupied by an optician and part of the original stables can still be found at the rear.
Records of the early years of the practice are still available and make interesting reading. For example the 1903 account book reads:
Accounts £861 19s 4d.
Club Payments £194 19s 7d.
Cash at the surgery £20 17s 2d.
Weekly collector £223 7s.
Drugs £51 17s 6d.
Dispenser 30s weekly.
There were no insurance schemes or National Health Service in those days and patients had to pay for every surgery attendance or visit. Many joined Friendly Societies or Clubs, contributing a small amount each week for this purpose. The practice also employed two collectors who visited patients each week and collected money from those who were not in in the Clubs. This practice continued until after World Ward II.
During World War I, the town and the practice began to expand and Dr James Denny joined the partnership. Dr Moseley retired during World War 1 and in 1927, immediately prior to the retirement of Dr Beane, Dr Charles Highfield joined the partnership, he was a graduate from Guys Hospital. Dr Beane retired in in 1928, and Drs Denny and Highfield practised together until 1938, when they were joined by Dr D Isaac. Dr Isaac graduated from St Mary’s hospital, he was the pupil of Professor Flemming, the discoverer of Penicillin. Co-inciding with Dr Isaac’s arrival, more consulting space was needed and the practice rented a room from Mrs Jacobs at 26 College Street. Later in 1952, the practice was to acquire the whole house and convert the upstairs to a self contained flat for Mrs Jacobs. Initially, however, the patients waited in her front room and were examined in her living room. No alterations to her living conditions were made and the patients were seated across a green biaze covered table, surrounded by several hundred ornaments of Victoriana! and if necessary examined on an ancient Chesterfield couch. This arrangement continued until 1952, when alterations were made and the whole ground floor converted into a suitable waiting room and consulting room, with Mrs Jacobs living in the upstairs flat. Eventually, due to the persistence of Dr Murphy, 26 College Street was sold and with the proceeds considerable structural improvements were made to the surgery on High Street.
During World War II, there was further expansion of the town and the practice began to enlarge. Dr Highfield served on the War Services Committee and Dr Isaac was medical officer to the Home Guard. Immediately after the war the National Health Service was launched on 5 July 1948, and 12,000 patients registered with the practice.
The practice had a heavy work load and it was decided that another doctor was needed. Dr Highfield became a member of the Derbyshire Local Medical Committee and became one of the first trainers in the county. In 1950, Dr Alan Murphy came to the practice as a trainee. Dr Murphy was a graduate of Manchester University. After completing his training Dr Murphy became a partner at the practice. During the 1950’s, general practice was in a period of frustration and stagnation. Nevertheless the partnership continued to prosper. improvements were made to 25 High Street, and the upstairs flat accommodated a caretaker, Mrs Walker and her family.
Dr Highfield retired in 1967 and Dr Denny died in 1972. Dr Isaac and Dr Murphy were joined by Dr William Highes, who was a graduate of the Welsh School of Medicine in Cardiff. Dr Hughes returned to Wales and Dr Isaac retired to Brighton. The partnership invited Dr P W F Lane to join them. Dr Pat Lane, was a graduate of Birmingham University, and after completing house appointments and a period of general practice in Scotland, he joined the practice in 1973, and was appointed as a trainer in 1975. He had a distinguished record in the teaching of general practice.
Two further additions to the practice were soon made. Dr Julian Nicholson, a graduate of St Andrews University joined the practice in 1974. He had previously worked in hospital in Austria and was a fluent linguist. Later in 1974, Dr Martin Lee joined the practice, a contemporary of Dr Lane at Birmingham University and a previous flat mate.
By this time it was becoming apparent that 25 High Street, despite improvements, was totally inadequate for the practice of modern medicine. In 1972, Dr Murphy became one of the first five lecturers in the Department of Community Health (later general practice) in the new medical school at Nottingham University, so there was a continual flow of undergrate students into the premises. This combined with Dr Lane’s trainee general practitioners, produced congestion at the surgery and it was clear that alternative accommodation had to be found.
This was the era of local authority health centres and it was suggested that the local authority clinic in Midland Street, should be enlarged to become a health centre. Only two practices, ours and that of Dr F Lee showed an interest. After prolonged negotiations plans to enlarge the clinic were finally agreed. Perks the builders of Long Eaton were given the task, and finally in 1976, the two practices moved into their new premises, (the old health centre building on Midland Street). The transition was remarkably smooth, but there were teething probelms, the flat roof leaked and the drainage system was inadequate and several floods occurred. Eventually the state of the building was improved to everyones satisfaction. After a further 10 years or so, it became apparent that the accommodation was still inadequate and portacabins were added to the sides of both practices.
To be continued….
The Practice History was originally written by Dr Alan Murphy, who joined the practice in 1950 and retired in 1990.