In the mid-1800s there were no qualified doctors resident in Somercotes. The nearest would have been at Alfreton. Visits and treatment all had to be paid for although there appears to have been some form of “sick society” which workers and their families could join. A “sick society” meeting was held regularly at the Dog & Doublet Inn, Pye Bridge during the late 19th century, almost certainly in connection with the workers of Riddings Ironworks. An edition of the Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald dated 6 April 1870 reported a serious riding accident in Somercotes, when a Dr. Turner from Alfreton attended (there being no doctor in Somercotes).
People generally relied on a pharmacy to offer basic advice and medicines. The Derbyshire History, Gazetteer and Directory of 1857 lists William Henry Wilbraham as a chemist in Somercotes, and Henry Noale as a chemist and druggist on Greenhill Lane. By 1881 there were two pharmacies in Somercotes, one run by Joseph Richardson and the other by William Henry Wilbraham who was still running this business in 1895.
The first mention of a qualified person living in the area is Dr. Thomas Wolverson who lived at Greenhill Lane House, Riddings.
Following is a list of doctors who practised in the area, up to around 1960.
ALLISON, Oswald Roy: MB, Ch.B Univ Manc 1913; Registered 29 December 1913. Dr. Allison seems to have taken over the Riddings practice from Dr. Warters and lived at Greenhill Lane House, Riddings. He is listed in the Medical Register at Riddings for 1943.
BINGHAM, John Joseph: Mem RCS Eng 1866, LS Apoth Lon 1866, LRCP Edin 1867; Registered 16 Oct 1867. Dr. Bingham lived at High Street, Alfreton, but attended a surgery at Naylor’s Row, Somercotes on Tues, Thurs and Sat, at 11.00 am on the days mentioned, (information from Kelly’s Directory of 1895). Dr. Bingham practised in Alfreton for many years and was a well-respected member of the community. He died on 2 November 1910 at the age of 66 years, and was buried in the Parish Churchyard.
The Nottingham Evening Post, published on 5 November 1910 reported on the funeral of Dr. Bingham as follows: “THE LATE DR. BINGHAM OF ALFRETON – A sympathising company of townspeople witnessed the internment of the remains of Dr. John Joseph Bingham, Alfreton’s oldest doctor, yesterday, in Alfreton Churchyard. The last rites were as simple as could be imagined, no invitations having been sent out. The mourners were the widow, Miss Bingham and two sons (Drs. S O and Raymond Bingham). The officiating clergymen were the Vicar (Re. Allen Moxon), Curate (Rev. J MF Lester), and the Rev. S C Furniston, of Blackwell. The boys of the church choir were in attendance, and sang a couple of hymns and chanted the funeral Psalm. The organist (Mr. (Mr. G E Marshall) played the “Dead March” at the close. A number of townsmen attended the service.”
BINGHAM, Sidney Olifant: MemRCS Eng. Dr. Bingham had a surgery at Quarry Road, Somercotes. Dr. Bingham is the son of of Dr. John Joesph Bingham.
CAMERON, Angus Nielson: MB, Ch.B Univ of Liverpool 1927; Registered 22 December 1927. Dr. Cameron is listed in the Medical Register for Somercotes in 1939. He was still practising in Somercotes in 1943, when his wife was also listed. Dr. Cameron was mentioned in a report in the Nottingham Evening Post dated 10 January 1939 regarding an inquest into a fatal road traffic accident at Independent Hill, Alfreton, an extract of which states: “…Dr. A. N. Cameron of Somercotes, who came on the scene of the accident said he found Shelton dead in the road…”. He was also called as a witness as to the probable cause of the accident.
Dr. Cameron married Dr. Winifred Walls at Liverpool. Their wedding was reported in the Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald dated 23 July 1932, which read: “ALFRETON – CAMERON – WALLS – Many Alfreton residents will be interested in the wedding which was solemnised at St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland, Liverpool, on Thursday week of Dr. Angus Neilson Cameron and Dr. Winifred Walls. Dr. Cameron is a partner in practice with Dr. Robson, Somercotes and his bride will assist him there. He is a son of Mr A Cameron of Kingsway, Waterloo, and was formerly house surgeon and physician at the Northern Hospital, and house surgeon at Liverpool Maternity Hospital. The bride is daughter of Mr H H Walls, of Devonshire Place, Oxton, and was a house surgeon at the Royal Infirmary, Liverpool. The bride’s gown was of ivory satin beaute posed over shell pink crepe-dechine, which was worn with a long tuile veil secured by a coronet of orange blossom. Her bouquet of white heather was tied with tartan ribbon of the Clan.”
CAMERON, Winifred (nee Walls): MB, Ch.B Univ of Liverpool 1931; Registered 11 July 1931. Dr. Cameron is listed next to her husband in the Medical Register for 1943. The address given for the practice is Somercotes House, which appears to be the large house situated opposite the junction with Sherwood Street.
CORKERY, Timothy: MB MCh Dublin. Dr. Corkery is listed in White's Trade Directory dated 1908. He had his main practice in Alfreton, but a surgery was also located at Somercotes Hill. Although born and educated in Ireland, Dr. Corkery spent the majority of his professional life in the Alfreton area.
He died in 1928 and his obituary was published at length in the Derbyshire Times & Chesterfield Herald of 5 May 1928, which is transcribed as follows:
“By the death of Dr. T. Corkery, which occurred on Saturday night, Alfreton has sustained a severe loss, and certainly is the poorer for the removal of a medical man who has been continuously associated with the people of Alfreton and district for the past forty years. For some time Dr. Corkery had been seriously ill, and it was recognised by his medical advisers that the end was only a question of time despite all the best skill and nursing. But his fatal illness really dates back to as long ago as March 1925, when he contracted blood poisoning apparently following an operation which he performed in a very serious case and which he attended at very considerable risk. He was never able to get rid of the mischief and from time to time he was laid up. Some time ago there were complications which placed recovery beyond hope.
The deceased recently relinquished active practice and decided upon retirement. He recovered temporarily and there was hope that he and Mrs Corkery would be able to leave Alfreton and get settled in their new quarters amidst a complete change of scenery and life, but their expectations were not to be realised. Dr. Corkery had to take to his bed with fatal consequences. He leaves a widow, one son, Dr. R A P Corkery, who succeeded to his father’s practice, and one daughter (Miss Norah Corkery) who lives in London and is private secretary to Sir Percy Daniels.
Dr. Corkery was an Irishman, being born at Bruree, Co. Limerick. He was educated at Clangowes Wood, a famous school in Ireland, and Queen’s College, Cork, and Dublin, where he took his degree of M. D. Going into the world, he spent a few months in Putney, and then took up his appointment as assistant to the late Dr. Roberts, Alfreton. The oldest residents will recall the latter’s residence, which stood back from High Street upon a site now occupied by the shop premises of Messrs. Peat and Varley. The house was reached by a path from the main street. The deceased had been with Dr. Roberts about a year when the latter died. At that time, Dr. Parry Jones, well-known in Alfreton and Derby for many years, was living at Pinxton, where he was the doctor to the local collieries. He came to Alfreton, and he and Dr. Corkery became partners in a practice extending over Alfreton, Somercotes and the Pinxton areas. That partnership existed for about nine years, and for seven years of that period, Dr. Corkery, who was then a single man, lived at Pinxton. In due course, Dr. Parry Jones removed to Derby, and Dr and Mrs Corkery, who were married thirty years ago next November, took up their residence in Alfreton at their present house in High Street. For a period, Dr. Corkery and Dr. H. Johnstone, Pinxton were in partnership, but this was dissolved and Dr. Cokery took the Alfreton and district business and Dr. Johnstone the Pinxton area. Recently Dr. Corkery gave up active practice to his only son, Dr. R A P Corkery. Thus Dr. Corkery has been associated with the medical services of Alfreton and district for about forty years.
He was the Medical Officer for the Alfreton district of the Belper Board of Guardians for many years, which appointment passed to his son on the former’s retirement: while he was the doctor for the field clubs connected with the Pinxton and Swanick collieries before the panel system was instituted.
LIVED FOR HIS PRACTICE
Dr. Corkery undoubtedly lived for his practice and a very happy relationship existed between him and a large clientele. Thorough, very responsive, and always genial and breezy, the deceased will leave behind him the pleasantest memories. He never aspired to public honours, but he was a generous supporter of all meritorious movements, religious, social or sporting. A Conservative in politics, he was a staunch supporter of the cause and a very solid help to Mrs Corkery in her many and varied activities. The deceased was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith and generously supported that denomination. A man of firm convictions, Dr. Corkery always gave courageous expression to them. He has lived a very useful life and the people of Alfreton will generously assess his worth, and long remember the eminent service he has given to the district.
He was able to see his old friend, Dr. Parry Jones shortly before the end, which cheered him considerably. The latter recently returned to Derby from a voyage to South Africa, and came on to Alfreton.
Mrs Corkery has decided to leave the town, and she will take up her residence in London next week with her daughter. Alfreton will thus lose a very active lady, and religious, social and Conservative circles a very energetic supporter. She formerly represented Alfreton on the Belper Board of Guardians and is a governor of the Swanwick Hall Secondary School. She was a rare driving force behind the Alfreton Women’s Conservative Association, and a generous advocate of the needs of ex-servicemen. She will be greatly missed, and in her particular spheres of work the vacancy will not be easily filled.
At Tuesday evenings meeting of the Alfreton Urban District Council Mr. F Lee referred to the death of Dr. T Corkery and moved a vote of condolence with Mrs Corkery and family. The deceased doctor had rendered useful service to the town, and would be missed. Mr. J. Varley in seconding, said he had known Dr. Corkery as long as most people, and he had reason to be doubly grateful to him. They did not think alike on many points, but he knew that Dr. Corkery, behind a rough exterior, had a very kindly heart, and everybody in Alfreton would be sorry over the death of the doctor. Mr. R Marsh also supported. The resolution was carried by the members rising.
A remarkable tribute was paid by the people of Alfreton on Wednesday when the deceased was interred in the Alfreton Cemetery. A service at the Roman Catholic Church preceded the graveside rites. The little church was not nearly big enough to accommodate those who sought admission. Many of the deceased’s former patients came from a distance, while most of the medical men in the town and district were present. The simple yet impressive interior of the church lent a striking effect to the melancholy gathering, which was the first burial ritual performed in the building. Dr. Corkery was a staunch Roman Catholic and had been associated with this faith since the early days, when this community worshipped in the old Church of St. Mary’s, in Park Street. The rites were conducted by the Right Rev. Monsignor Payne, Derby, the Vicar-General of the Nottingham RC Diocese, assisted by the Rev. Father Joseph Heald, Alfreton.
Monsignor Payne gave an address and referred to the characteristics of the deceased, and expressed sympathy with the bereaved. Dr. Corkery was spoken of as a good man, and a good man was necessarily a good father and a good husband. He had heard tributes paid to him as a good friend, a good neighbour, and he had set a good example in life.”
In the obituary there followed a long list of mourners, and those present in the church.
An article regarding the Last Will & Testament of Dr. Corkery was also published in the Derby Daily Telegraph on 28 August 1928, which read: “ALFRETON DOCTOR’S WILL – Former M.O.H. to Belper Guardians.- Dr. Timothy Corkery, of Alfreton, late medical officer of the Belper Board of Guardians, who died on April 28th left £10,410. 1s 11d., with net personalty £10,126.1s.3d. The executors are Mrs Corkery, widow, and Evelyn Norah Corkery, daughter, both of 10, Pembridge Mansions, Notting-Hill, London and Ralph Alfred Patrick Corkery, of Alfreton, son. He leaves the whole of the property upon trust for his wife during widowhood, and then between his son and daughter”.
FARRIES, Stuart Jackson: LRCP Edin 1901, LRCS Edin 1901 LFPS Glas 1901; Registered 23 April 1901.Dr Farries is listed in Kelly’s Directory for 1912 on Somercotes Hill, and may have been sharing a general practice. He is listed for Somercotes in the Medical Register for 1915.
Dr. Farries seems to have travelled abroad regularly, and must have moved to Japan shortly after leaving his practice in Somercotes. An obituary for him appears in the Aberdeen Weekly Journal, published on 6 April 1917. It reads: “Dr. S J FARRIES, YOKOHAMA - The death has occurred of Dr. Stuart Jackson Farries, eldest son of the late Rev. W Farries, who spent the last ten years of his ministry in Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, and of Mrs Farries, Siloth. Of Scottish parents, Dr. Farries was born in Nottigham in 1874, and died in Yokohama, Japan on March 14. He graduated in medicine at Glasgow in 1901, and spent a considerable time abroad. Most of his professional work lay in the south of Scotland and Derbyshire, where he was loved and trusted as a doctor, and fully appreciated by his medical colleagues. Like his father, he was a lover of literature. His musical gifts, though modestly displayed, were very quickly recognised wherever he went. His great-grandfather was James Porteous, the violinist and composer, while two of his great-grandparents were full cousins of Sir Thomas Telford, the engineer. Dr. Farries leaves a wife and two children, for whom much sympathy is felt.”
FLINT, Kenneth Newstead: MB, Ch.B, Edin 1930, ADPH B’ham 1939; Registered 29 December 1930. Dr. Flint is listed in the Medical Register for 1951, at the address of Somercotes House.
GREGSON, George Booth: LRCS, Edin 1829, LFPS Glas 1857; Registered 1 January 1859. Dr. Gregson appears in the Medical Registers for 1863 and 1871, practising in Somercotes.
HARCOURT, Dr: Dr Harcourt is listed in White's Trade Directory for 1908. The surgery was located at Somercotes Hill.
HEFFRON, Thomas; MB, Ch.B Univ Glas 1924; Registered 24 April 1924. Thomas Heffron was born at Ayr, Scotland in 1899 and was educated at Ayr Academy and the University of Glasgow. He married Alice, daughter of James Earnshaw. In 1927, Dr. Heffron was practising at John Street, Ayr in Scotland, but became House Surgeon at Bury Infirmary in Lancashire the same year. He was appointed Medical Officer for the parish of Codnor Park in 1928 and became Divisional Surgeon for the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, Codnor Park Detachment in 1931. The Medical Register confirms that he had a surgery in Ironville in 1935. He remained in Ironville until his retirement, sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Many of his patients moved to Somercotes and Riddings for work purposes, but remained on his register. His surgery and home was Ironville House, the large imposing building near to Queen Street.
HOGG, Henry Sydney: MB, Ch.B 1939, MD 1945 Queens Univ, Belfast; Registered 10 July 1939. Dr Hogg lived and had his practice at Somercotes House. The practice remained there for many years until his retirement, and was shared with his wife who was also a General Practitioner. The house itself was a landmark in the area, as it had a large stone wall built around the substantial grounds. It was situated on the boundary between Somercotes and Leabrooks. Much of the land was sold when the practice closed in the 1980s and Hilton Park Drive was developed on the site to the rear. Due to the length of time he had a practice in the village, Dr. Hogg and his wife were very well-known and respected.
HOGG, Margaret Evelyn (nee Cowan): LMSSA Lon 1947, MB, BS Lon 1950; Registered 26 August 1947; Dr. Hogg shared the practice with her husband at Somercotes House.
HUTCHINSON, Roberta Irene: MB, Ch.B Univ of B’ham 1926; Registered 12 July 1926. Dr. Hutchinson appears in the Medical Register for 1931. The full address for her is listed as 8, Victoria Street, Somercotes.
JOHNSTONE, Herbert: MB CM Aberdeen. Dr. Johnstone was listed as practicing in Somercotes in Whites Directory in both 1908 and 1916, although he was originally employed as a locum. He moved from Somercotes and settled in Pinxton, where lived for most of his life. Dr. Johnstone died in 1955, and his obituary was printed in the Belper News dated 25 October that year: “DEATH OF DR. H. JOHNSTONE - Large Attendance at Pinxton Funeral - Dr. Herbert Johnstone (79), Southfields, Pinxton, who has been in practise at Pinxton for the past 45 years, died suddenly on Friday week. Dr. Johnstone had attended morning surgery and visited patients shortly before his death. The son of a doctor, he was born at Upholland. Lancashire, and studied medicine at Aberdeen University. He came to the Alfreton district towards the end of last century as a locum for a Somercotes doctor and he decided to remain in the area. He became assistant to the late Dr. P. Corkery and eventually a partner in the practise at Alfreton, before moving to Pinxton in 1910. In the Pinxton district Dr. Johnstone took an active part in the social life of the area. He was a non-acting member of Pinxton Amateur Dramatic Society, and in his younger days was a playing member of Pinxton Cricket Club. He was interested in rugby football and as a medical student played for Aberdeen University. He was well known for his interest in ambulance work and for nearly 40 years was lecturer for the colliery St. John Ambulance class. He leaves a widow and a son, Dr. G. E. Johnstone, who carries on the practise in partnership with Dr. R. A. O’Shea. Pinxton Parish Church was filled to capacity with professional colleagues, friends, patients and representatives of many local organisations for the funeral service on Tuesday week. The service was conducted by the Rev. R. H. Horton (Rector) and the Rev. H. B. Bidden, Vicar of Selston. Cremation followed at Wilford Hill, Nottingham. Family mourners were: the widow, Dr. and Mrs. G. E. Johnstone, Dr. and Mrs. O'Shea and Mrs. W- McCombie.”
JOHNSTONE, Thomas: MA MD Edinburgh. Information on Dr. Johnstone can be taken from an obituary printed on the death of his wife and published in the Derbyshire Times & Chesterfield Herald on 20 March 1936. At the time of her death, Mrs Florence Caroline Johnstone lived with her husband at “Sunny Bank” Nottingham Road, Alfreton. Hailing originally from London, Mrs Johnstone was the sister of Mrs Oswald Dykes-Robson, the wife of another Somercotes medical practitioner. Dr Johnstone was born at Loch Maben, Dumfrieshire, and was educated and qualified at Edinburgh. He practiced in Peckham, London for 45 years before retiring in 1929 and moving to Alfreton where his wife could be near to her sister. Once in the area, he took a small medical practice and was a close associate of Dr Dykes-Robson. The internment of Mrs Johnstone took place at in the Churchyard of St. Thomas, Somercotes. Dr. Thomas Johnstone died on 29 October 1936, and was laid to rest with his wife in the same churchyard of St. Thomas.
KEATING, Helen: District Nurse. Helen was listed in Whites Directory for 1941. The addess was recorded as "Braemar", Sleetmoor Lane.
LAWRENCE, Ralph Augustus Arthur Rustom: MB, Ch.B Univ of Witwatersrand, Cape Town, SA, 1945; Registered 13 October 1948. Dr Lawrence first appears in the Medical Register for Somercotes in 1955. The address given is “Kaya Wami”, Swanwick Road, Leabrooks. The name of Dr. Lawrence’s house is Zulu (partly meaning “home”), and reflects his background and childhood. Dr. Lawrence was very well respected and popular in the community. He was well known for his charitable works, especially for his native South Africa. When he retired from General Practice he continued to work as a Police Surgeon.
PHILLIPS, W. J. E.: MB BCh, MRCS England, LRCP London Dr Philips was practising at Leabrooks Road, Somercotes in 1941.
ROBSON, Oswald Dykes: MA Edin, MB, Mast Surg Edin 1892; Registered 1 August 1892. Dr. Robson is first listed for Somercotes in the Medical Registers in 1895. He practised in Somercotes for many years, last appearing in the Register for 1931. He is listed in Kelly’s Directory for 1895 which states he is a “physician and surgeon & surgeon to Birchwood Colliery Ambulance Corps, Somercotes Hill”. Dr. Robson appears many times in local newspapers, attending accidents and deaths in the district. A report in the Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald of 31 October 1896 states “BIRCHWOOD – AMBULANCE CORPS -: On Tuesday evening a new class was started in connection with the Birchwood Colliery Ambulance Corps at the Somercotes Boys School when the first of a series of lectures was delivered by Dr. Robson of Somercotes. There was a fair attendance, and it is anticipated that another ladies’ class will commence shortly”.
An article appeared in the Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald regarding the death and funeral of Dr. Robson, published on 23 December 1933: “DR. O. D. ROBSON – Large Attendance at Somercotes Funeral - Residents of Somercotes paid an impressive tribute to the memory of Dr. Oswald Dykes Robon, Somercotes, whose death we announced last week, at the funeral on Friday in the church burial ground. The grave adjoins that of his daughter, who died several years ago. A simple service was conducted by the Vicar (the Rev. R E Birtwistle), assisted by the Rev. W P Mahony, (Rector of Breaston and a former Vicar of Somercotes) who read the lesson. The only music was that of Mr. Ernest Bettison, who played Beethoven’s majestic funeral march as the cortege left the church. The 23rd Psalm was recited. Members of the local Ambulance Corps, under Supt. R F Ward and Ambulance Officer R J Herbert, Alfreton, joined the cortege at the late doctor’s residence. The bearers were also ambulance men. There was a large congregation representative of all sections of the community.
The mourners included: The Widow; Mrs Piggford; Mr and Mrs Davis Adams (son-in-law and daughters); Mr Peter Piggford (grandson); Mr William Robson, Rockferry (brother); Dr. Johnstone, Alfreton (brother-in-law); Mr and Mrs Mason (cousins); Mr Ian Johnstone and Mr Rodney Browning (nephews); Dr. and Mrs A N Cameron, Somercotes; Mr Stevenson, Mansfield; Mr Parsons, Dore; Mr C F R Cleaver, Alfreton; Mr George Orme, Birmingham, and formerly of Alfreton and Mr H Wood, Halifax. Local members of the medical profession present included DR. R G Bingham and Dr. R A P Corkery, Alfreton, Dr. Stopford J Ralpin, South Normanton and Dr. H Johnston, Pinxton.”
There followed a long list of other mourners and a list of those who sent flowers.
WARTERS, William Alexander: LRCP Edin 1884, LRCS Edin 1884; Registered 3 September 1884. Dr. Warters lived at Greenhill Lane House, Riddings. He is recorded in the Medical Registers for 1887 through to 1931. He shared the practice with his son, who passed his exams in 1915.
WARTERS, Reginald Arthur: MB, Ch.B Edin 1915; Registered 17 December 1915. Dr. Waters passed his medical exams and seems to have returned to Riddings where he shared the practice with his father. He is recorded in the Medical Registers at Greenhill Lane House, Riddings in 1915, through to 1931.
WILLIAMS, Roderick: LRCP Edin 1942, LRCS Edin 1942, LRFPS Glas 1942; Registered 11 November 1942. Dr. Williams took over the surgery at Greenhill Lane House, Riddings around 1955, and is listed in the Medical Register for that year.
WOLVERSON, Thomas: MemR Univ Edin 1865, MemR College Surgery Eng 1870; Registered 22 April 1871. Dr Wolverson is the first doctor living in the area outside of Alfreton. He was listed in the Medical Register at Riddings in 1875. He lived at Greenhill Lane House, Riddings.
VERNON, Thomas: Univ Edin. Thomas Vernon is listed in Kelly’s Directory for 1881 and is described as an Accoucheur, or male obstetrician who assisted with childbirth. He lived on Greenhill Lane.
YORKE, Mary Ann: District Nurse. Mary was listed in Whites Directory for 1916.
Abbreviations: BS – Batchelor of Science; MB – Batchelor of Medicine; Ch.B – Batchelor of Surgery; LRCS – Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons; LRCP – Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians; LFPS – Licentiate of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons; MRCS – Member of the Royal College of Surgeons; LMSSA – Licentiate in Medicine & Surgery of the Society of Apothecaries.