Medical and Dentistry


When I lived in Stonehouse there was only one doctor, a Doctor Murray his surgery was at The Cross. It was an old shop, the windows were painted up so far as to stop anyone looking in,t he doctors room was what would have been the back shop. You sat there until seen, the front door was locked at 6 PM. The doctor also did house visits. Now it takes over a week or longer for me to see a doctor; that is what is called progress. 

One morning at School I fell while in the Gym Hall striking my head on a low piece of equipment. I was taken down by a Teacher to the Doctor who stitched up my wound with no injection to kill the pain, thereafter I was taken home. There were no antibiotics - if you had say Gastric Flu as I had, it was bed and M & B tablets. Miners seemed to get boils on the back of their necks and word got round that my Mother was good at removing the boils bathing them and applying iodine. 

There was a charge made by the doctor (No NHS) so a lot of Mothers relied on home remedies. Heavy Cold cure was a Gruel (hot oatmeal) or a Whisky Toddy (Hot Whisky in water with sugar added). Impetigo was rife and the cure was to paint the sores with Condi's Crystals which made your lips and around the mouth bright purple. 

Polio was a disease that there was a scare about in the town, the general opinion was that it was water borne from the river, so we were banned from playing down at the River Avon. At School we had to line up  to see the visiting health nurse who had a bug comb checking your hair for Head Lice (nits). She would let you know in front of your pals and a note to take home. 

The old favourite that mothers gave to keep you innards working right was a spoonful of Castor Oil, or in the winter a spoonful of Cod Liver Oil. When I was a wee tot my Sister took Scarlet Fever and had to be taken to the Fever Section of Glasgow Royal Infirmary. I slept in the same bed and missed the infection. 

The dentist was Nathanial Leper who had a cottage in Hill Road. One of his front rooms was the waiting room and the other room was his surgery. He was a very old man who kept on working due the lack of dentists during the war.

In the waiting room I still remember as a nervous wee boy. The tick, tick of the old clock and getting the tooth out. Afterwards you had to wrap a scarf around your mouth to keep the cold wind from getting into the cavity. I think I played on the use of the scarf as it seem to provide some money from adults for being a good boy.  

Bread was unwrapped and was placed in baskets to take home. Milk wasn't pasteurised, cheese was cut into pieces in the shop and a good number of shops had sawdust sprinkled on the public side of the counter. It was good food, not full of chemicals. I just wonder if we are any healthier today, my local Doctor's Surgery is always busy and we have six doctors..

Here is something I found on the 'History Learning' site on the Internet which is very interesting:

The very nature of warfare between 1939 and 1945 forced the medical world to rush forward the pace of advance in medicine. Advances in the treatment of infection had occurred pre-war but with the turmoil of war, research pioneers pushed forward to find solutions to very pressing problems. In 1936, 'M+B' was produced by the firm May and Baker - the first effective sulphonamides that could be used for a variety of infections. Called 'M+B 693' it was used as a treatment for sore throats, pneumonia and gonorrhoea.

A development of 'M+B 693' was 'M+B 760'. Both proved very effective as treatments against infections. However, the very nature of war meant that both treatments were needed in far greater quantities than during peace time. Therefore, probably for the first time since World War One, medical production was put onto a war footing so that the supplies that were required were produced. In 1943, Winston Churchill was given 'M+B 693' as a treatment for pneumonia and on December 29th, 1943, he told the nation:   "This admirable 'M+B' from which I did not suffer any inconvenience, was used at the earliest moment and after a week's fever the intruders were repulsed."


Acknowledgment to the following website for excerpts used:

History Learning Site 'Medicine and World War Two'


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