Lives of the fellows

Leslie Wakefield Hale

b.21 November 1899 d.28 September 1974
MB BS Lond(1924) MRCP(1929) MD(1930) FRCP(1947)

Leslie Wakefield Hale was born at Agra in India, where his father Frederick William Hale of Colchester was a missionary for 33 years. His mother Emily was the daughter of George Wakefield who owned and ran the White Funnel line of steamers, which sailed from Bristol to Barry and other parts.

Hale returned to England for his education and, after qualifying from UCH and holding various junior hospital posts, he became resident physician at Lewisham Hospital, before entering general practice at Bromley. In 1939 he moved to Cornwall to become a partner in a large general practice and, at the same time, to take up an appointment as physician to Redruth Hospital.

Working in a hospital originally planned for the benefit of Cornish miners it was natural that he should become involved in the subject of pneumoconiosis. The related problem of china clay workers’ lung had until then been regarded as benign. Hale showed that prolonged and sometimes fatal illness did occur in these cases.

As a consultant he was a slow, careful worker, but he derived great enjoyment from the routine of out-patient and ward work. Always gentle and kind when dealing with patients he was nevertheless a shrewd observer, and his opinion was widely sought, particularly in difficult chest problems, by general practitioners in West Cornwall.

From the inter-hospital controversies which were such a notable feature of Cornish hospital life in the forties he remained, as far as possible, aloof. His capacity to see both sides of any argument rendered him useless to each of the warring factions. In the relatively calm judicial atmosphere of the Regional Hospital Board, however, he came into his own, and his repeated re-appointment over a period of twelve years is a testimony to the regard in which his judgement was held. During these years he became much involved in the provision of chest services for the region.

Hale was a lover of the Cornish countryside and, living as he did close to the sea, he developed a love of sailing and became a daily all-the-year-round bather.

He married, in 1932, Maimie Mary, daughter of Thomas Steeden of London, a leather factor. They had two children, a son and a daughter. During his last long drawn out illness, occasioned by a series of mini-strokes, his wife tended him with devoted care.

CT Andrews

[Brit.med.J., 4, 294; Lancet, 1974, 2, 1091]

(Volume VI, page 215)

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