You are in [Themes] [Medicine in Hungerford] [Between the Wars]

At the end of the war Dr Dickson returned from his R.A.M.C. service, and Dr. James left the town again; this time he moved to Maidenhead. However, even this move was not to last long, and he was soon to return to Hungerford. He bought Riverside, the Georgian house on the corner of Charnham Street and Bridge Street. He was to live here for the rest of his life.

He had a small surgery extension added to the house, although "he hardly ever used it", most of the work being carried out at Manor House with Dr Starkey-Smith. Incidentally, Dr. James came back to the practice as the junior partner, of course, although it had originally been his practice since 1898!

Dr. Dickson was Constable in 1920, and the Kelly Directory mentions that he was also coroner for the area, a post held ex-officio by the Constable until c.1935.

Walter Dickson decided to retire in the early 1920's, when he was in his mid 40's, with a view to selling the practice and moving away from the area.

A story has it that when he decided to sell the practice, he was walking up to the Post Office with a letter advertising its sale, when he met Dr. Starkey-Smith - of the other practice. When Dr. Starkey- Smith heard what Dr. Dickson was about to do, he there and then made an offer for the practice, and bought it.

This transaction, therefore, brought together the entire medical care of Hungerford under the umbrella of one practice for the first time in history. The practice of Drs. Starkey-Smith and James at Manor House cared for the whole area.

Dr. Starkey-Smith became Constable of Hungerford in 1932. The photograph shows him with the Carnival Queen (Freda Giles, née Horwood).

He was a keen cricketer, and often played for Hungerford at the Littlecote pitch. He was President of the Hungerford Club. He has been described as a slightly "flippant" character, always "hail and hearty", and clearly he was very popular, reportedly taking a number of "better" patients from Dr. James!

He devoted himself to his practice and patients and was loved and admired by rich and poor alike.

Sadly his son John took his own life when in his twenty's. His daughter Betty ("Big" Betty) used to play with Betty Munford ("Little" Betty")!

However, he was not a man of robust health, having had rheumatic fever as a child which damaged his heart valves. In the mid 1930's his poor health was becoming a serious restriction, and Dr. James was by this time in his mid 60's.

In 1935 the practice advertised for an assistant. The assistant they appointed was an Irishman - Dr. Stuart Boyd.

Douglas Herbert Stuart Boyd was born in Stillorgan, County Dublin on 7th October 1906. Two of his uncles were doctors, one of them in Dublin, and when he left school at the age of 17 years, he went to Trinity College Dublin and Dunn's Hospital Dublin to study medicine. He was awarded his B.A. in 1928, and after doing his residence at Dr. Stephens Hospital during 1931, he qualified in medicine (MB, BCh, BAG) in 1932 at Dublin. He went on to work in the Rotunda Lying-in Hospital in Dublin, where he was awarded the Licentiate of Midwifery in 1935. Incidentally, this was just one year after the introduction of Prontosil, the precursor of modern-day antibiotics.

He came to Hungerford in May 1935 as an assistant to Drs. Blake James and Starkey-Smith, but on 1st June he became a partner with a quarter share in the practice, making the practice a three-doctor partnership for the first time.

Dr. Starkey-Smith's health continued to deteriorate, and he had to retire at the end of June 1936. The practice reverted to a two-man partnership, as Drs. James and Boyd. Dr Starkey-Smith died on 23 Dec 1937, at the age of 58 years, his wife dying after him.

When Dr. Boyd moved to the town, he lived in rooms in "Essendene", The Croft, but in October 1936 he moved to "Clevedon", 95 High Street.

Dr. Boyd was a keen motor-cyclist, and a keen dancer. He came to Hungerford as a bachelor, and it is said that there was much speculation around the town as to who would be the lucky lady he would ask to marry. There were two strong contenders, the sisters Mary and Margaret Peart, daughters of Mr. Peart of the Berkshire Trout Farm. On 10th June 1937 he married Margaret Peart, and the reception was held at Dun Mill. They were to have five children.

Dr Starkey-Smith died in Dec 1937. A local paper reported "It was no wonder that Dr Starkey-Smith was popular. You would never meet a more cheery "medico". Like that of the policeman in the Pirates of Penzance, a doctor's lot is not always a happy one. His time is never his own, like other men's. He is always liable to be called out at all hours of the day and night. Yet whenever you met Starkey you would not think he had a single care on his shoulders. He was always full of charm and high spirits. The optimism which eminated from him must have been as health-inspiring to his patients as it was exhilerating to his friends. Everyone liked him."

When Dr. Starkey Smith died (23rd December 1937), Dr. Boyd took over Manor House. The surgery had been here since 1910, the premises being now leased from the Hungerford Laundry Company. He sublet part of the ground floor to the surgery.

Photo Gallery:

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Dr Gordon Starkey-Smith

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Dr Gordon Starkey-Smith

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Dr Starkey-Smith, Constable, with Carnival Queen Freda Giles née Horwood, 1932

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- Dr Starkey-Smith, Constable, with Carnival Queen Freda Giles née Horwood, 1932

- Dr Gordon Starkey-Smith

See also:

Medicine in Hungerford:

- The Early Days - from the 13th century

- The Start of Organised Medicine - from 1550 to c1830

- The 19th Century and Medical Nepotism

- The Early 1900s

- District Nursing

- The First World War

- Between the Wars

- The Second World War

- The Coming of the N.H.S.

- The 1950s

- The Healthcare Team

- Local Hospitals (including more distant ones used by Hungerford residents)