London, with its large population and many hospitals, has been the most frequent venue for home meetings although it was not until 1972 that any meeting was held in the metropolis, perhaps because the purpose of the original Travelling Surgical Club was to ensure discourse between provincial surgeons. The meeting in 1972 was held at the Westminster Hospital, the stamping ground of the Society’s President Sir Clement Price Thomas (who sadly died that year) and was organised by Robert Cox (himself later to become President of the TSS). A symposium on Head and Neck Cancer was followed by eclectic presentations. Papers were also heard the next day at the Royal Army Medical College, Millbank.
The proposed visit to Israel in the spring of 1977 being cancelled, there was a record attendance in October of 34 surgeons and 29 wives for the meeting organised at the Royal Postgraduate Hospital, Hammersmith, by Selwyn Taylor, at that time Vice-President of the Royal College of Surgeons. He personally performed a parathyroidectomy, whilst Crawford Jamieson did an expert profundaplasty and Professor Calnan wrought plastic magic on a nose and finger.
St Bartholomew’s Hospital was host in 1975 in the Audio-Visual Aid Department (otherwise known as the Robin Brook Centre), to a meeting arranged by Sir Edward Tuckwell and James Robinson. Sir Francis Avery Jones gave a talk on Gastro-intestinal Bleeding, which he said was best managed by an enthusiastic physician and a reluctant surgeon. He later spoke after dinner at the Barber-Surgeons Hall on its history and treasures. Guy’s Hospital was host in 1980, starting with a party in the Highgate home of Randy and Mary Beard. Ian McColl gave a challenging paper on Medical Audit, beginning with a quotation from Alexander the Great: “A multitude of physicians have destroyed me.” He also volunteered the aphorism from Ecclesiastes that “Whatever is unknown is assumed to have greater potential.”
Adrian and Sylvie Marston hosted the meeting in 1983 at the Middlesex Hospital. The papers covered vascular, endocrine and gastrointestinal research and operations. The newly-opened Homerton Hospital was visited in 1987. The Society was also taken by double-decker bus to St Mark’s Hospital in Mile End where lateral sphincterotomy was demonstrated on closed circuit television, and presentations were heard on a variety of topics, mainly gastro-intestinal though a little vascular crept in. Bus journeys have a curious history for the Society, showing a predilection for excitement but happily not injury: at the Homerton hospital the vehicle got stuck on a hump in the road, and at the Charterhouse it became impaled on scaffolding. Nor have trips abroad been without incident!
London was also the venue for the largest ever meeting of the Society, held in 1999 to celebrate its 75th anniversary. The three day visit was hosted jointly by our President James Thomson and Secretary Geoffrey Glazer, at their respective hospitals. There was a tour of St Mark’s Hospital in its new surroundings (the grounds of Northwick Park Hospital with its distant view of Harrow), the move from Mile End largely credited to our President. Papers were heard, and closed circuit television again used to display a procedure from the operating theatre. This was followed by a day of marvellous papers at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington which culminated in a presentation to James Thomson in recognition of his services to both the hospital and the TSS. The first evening we dined in the Archbishop’s Palace at Lambeth having toured its library, and the next evening in the Apothecaries Hall. The apotheosis was a celebratory black-tie dinner in the Royal College of Surgeons whose President Sir Barry Jackson – our main guest and speaker – presented the Society with a copy of Lord Moynihan’s personal compilation, Truants. This slender but historic book, detailing those who left medicine and became famous in other spheres, had been bought in 1936 (the year our founding President Lord Moynihan died) by Bob Nevin, also a former President of the Society. The book joins many memorabilia retained by the TSS.
In 2006 under the new Presidency of David Ralphs, the Society accepted the invitation from James Thomson – former Secretary and President of the TSS – to visit the Charterhouse of which he was Master, on a Saturday in February. 39 attended, many staying in the Nuffield residencies beside the Royal College of Surgeons where our visit began with a tour of the Hunterian Museum guided by an ever-sprightly Professor Harold Ellis. There followed a reception, lunch and afternoon at the Charterhouse, of which there was a guided tour before four non-medical “Enthusiasms” were presented by five members. The day was rounded off with a champagne reception and formal dinner at the Worshipful Company of Barbers, thanks to William Shand (our own past-President) who enlightened us on the history of this Company of which he was both a past Master and Warden.
London 2014; to be added
London 2016 ,the tenth was hosted by Professor Barry Powell and his wife Jill. It was the first to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, a former infectious disease complex to which it moved from Hyde Park Corner in 1980. The meeting was attended by a record 60, under the Presidency of Terry Irwin and outgoing Secretary Brian Ellis.
The scientific meeting in the Education Centre concentrated on St George’s hospital’s role as a Level One Trauma Centre (part of the London network), its bariatric surgery, changes in vascular surgical training, the role of sentinel lymph node biopsy in managing penile carcinoma for which the hospital was a regional unit established from scratch, and reconstruction of the abdominal wall. The latter two topics reflected the team work between plastic surgeons and other specialties. Our Price Thomas Fellow Prosanna Sooriakumaran discussed robotic pelvic prostatectomy and his own experience in Oxford. The Registrar’s seven prize papers also reflected St George’s hospital’s surgical research interests and was won by Kate Stenson for her presentation on Endo-vascular Aneurysm Sealing with Parallel Grafts. Global Disaster Management was reviewed by Jim Ryan, and Lt Col James Grant gave a personal view of medical care in Iraq and Afghanistan during 2007-2013. The scientific day was rounded off with a remarkable talk by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, world-renowned for his book Do No Harm (now available in 22 languages) in which he unashamedly discussed his career failures as well as successes; he exhorted us to be honest around mistakes though there were many issues to be resolved, including the approach of the GMC.
The social side included a tour of Wimbledon’s world-famous Lawn Tennis Club, which hosts the only grass Open Championship, and at a remarkable profit. The ladies visited the ancient Surrey estate of Polesden Lacey, 25 miles from central London and now under the National Trust. The Society dinner was held in the RAF Club, Piccadilly, attended by sixty people with neurosurgeon Henry Marsh the guest speaker. On the Saturday, many had the guided tour of Hampton Court.
The images above show the Houses of Parliament (Left) and Trafalgar Square with the National Gallery and St Martin’s in the Fields (Right)