If there was such thing as National X-ray Week (which there currently isn’t… pfft!), it would surely be this week.
15 August was the day John Hall-Edwards, the Birmingham-born pioneering radiographer, died. That was 91 years ago but he left an incredible legacy and as readers of my blog know, Dr Hall-Edwards was the inspiration for my fabulous self. I’m even named after him, Ed being short for Edward. Geddit?
And readers will recall that my creator, Anne Guest, was once a hospital radiographer which inspired her designs for yours truly.
In 1896, Dr Hall-Edwards completed a hat-trick of amazing things in the history of radiography. First, he took one of the earliest X-rays which was used to help direct a surgical operation, then he took one of the first-ever X-rays of the human spine and he followed that up by giving one of the earliest demonstrations of this breakthrough science on Hodge Hill Common, Birmingham.
This led to the doctor getting a very important job – Surgeon Radiographer at the Birmingham General Hospital and several other local hospitals – the Orthopaedic, Children’s and Eye hospitals. He was head of all the X-ray departments. The Birmingham General Hospital in Steelhouse Lane is no more, but the building is home to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. I think that’s a pretty cool link to The Big Sleuth which is all about raising money to help poorly children being treated by that hospital.
I’m so proud to be promoting such a worthy cause!
Dr Hall-Edwards was born on Moseley Road, Kings Norton in 1858 and went to King Edward VI Grammar School. He might have been a student at Aston Medical School only it didn’t exist then so he studied medicine at Masons College in Birmingham. When he graduated, he became a local GP but his passion for amateur photography led him to develop an interest in X-ray, which had been discovered by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895.
The rest, as they say, is history, although the doctor’s pioneering work to understand X-ray imaging came at a personal cost. He had to have his left arm and the fingers of his right hand amputated after he developed cancer. His preserved left arm is now in the collection of the University of Birmingham.
On a less gruesome note, you can see a blue plaque commemorating the doctor’s work at Birmingham Children’s Hospital – check it out on your bear hunt!