Leeds can be traced to the 5th century name for a wooded area of the Kingdom of Elmet. The name has been applied to many administrative entities over the centuries. It changed from being the name of a small manorial borough in the 13th century, through several incarnations, to being the name attached to the present metropolitan borough. In the 17th and 18th centuries Leeds became a major centre for the production and trading of wool.

In 1924 Leeds was the site of an inaugural meeting of a dozen provincial surgeons (calling themselves the Junior Surgical Club) who had approached Sir Berkeley (later Lord) Moynihan to seek his help in establishing contacts with Continental colleagues, from whom they thought there might be something to learn after their own experiences at Casualty Clearing Stations in the First World War. Twelve of the fourteen founder-members accepted an invitation by Sir Berkeley to his home town for a three-day programme of operations, demonstrations and discussions. On the evening of Wednesday 17 July he sent a list of cases to each member at the Metropole Hotel and arranged to meet them at the Infirmary at 0930 the next day. He wrote to the Honorary Secretary W W Wagstaffe thus: “ I conceive my chief role in surgery to be the training of other men to do work better than I can do it myself: so you will see some of my “boys”, who I hope will convince you that I have not laboured in vain.”

The first business meeting, with H H Sampson in the chair, was held in a private room in the Metropole Hotel hired at a cost of £4-3-10 whilst postage and telegrams accounted for a further 4s 2d. It was formally agreed to call the group the Travelling Surgical Club (the TSC) and limit the initial membership to practising “surgeons who had served overseas in the great war” [sic]. It was also “resolved that the Club meet once a year at a place and time to be decided at the previous meeting. The general idea shall be to see the work done in clinics especially abroad.” The annual subscription was fixed at 15/- (fifteen shillings).

Sir Berkeley consented to honour the Club as President, and although he did not attend any subsequent meetings he offered his blessing and support, sometimes in writing. At the first Leeds gathering in 1924 he entertained his guests to a historic dinner in his home where one of them later recalled that a silver bowl of red roses (or possibly carnations) had been displayed on a black tablecloth.

Leeds was next visited in 1979, hosted by Mr David Pratt and his wife Libby, St James’ Hospital being the obvious venue and the papers being the first to be given in the new Clinical Sciences block. We returned in 2004 as guests of our fellow-member and Professor of Surgery Pierre Guillou who gave us an instructive day enlivened by the professorial contributions of iconoclastic liver surgeon Peter Lodge and innovative scoliosis surgeon Bob Dickson. We visited Harewood House.


Images above show the Leeds Townhall (Left) and the Corn Exchange (Right)