Lives of the fellows

Gilbert Steward Hall

b.1902 d.6 September 1976
MB ChB Birm(1926) MRCP(1932) FRCP(1948)

Gilbert Steward Hall was the son of Benjamin Hall, a solicitor in Wolverhampton. He was educated at Wolverhampton Grammar School and the University of Birmingham, from which he graduated in medicine in 1926. After holding junior hospital posts at the General Hospital, Birmingham, he served for three years at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Queen Square, first as a house physician and then as resident medical officer. He became a member of the College in 1932 and then returned to his old hospital in Birmingham as medical registrar and resident medical officer.

Greatly influenced by Stanley Barnes, the distinguished Birmingham neurologist, whose personal and professional example he always emulated, he became first assistant to the department of neurology in the Birmingham United Hospitals, consultant neurologist to the Birmingham and Midland Nerve Hospital, the United Birmingham Hospitals and the Royal Institute for the Blind.

Hall was a superb clinical neurologist and a devoted and conscientious doctor. Naturally he had an enormous practice, but he gave magnificent service to all the hospitals he served, and in addition found time for research; his contributions on tuberose sclerosis, the neurological complications of polyarteritis nodosa and Wilson’s disease being particularly valuable. During the 1939-1945 war he served in the RAMC with the rank of lieutenant colonel, being command neurologist to the Southern, Western and Scottish and Northern Ireland Commands and, for a year, adviser in neurology at Allied Force Headquarters in the Central Mediterranean.

Gilbert Hall was a member of the Association of British Neurologists and the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland, in both of which he was a most popular figure. He made an enormous contribution to British neurology and to the hospitals on whose staff he served. By nature kind, generous and unselfish, everyone and every organization with which he was associated was his debtor, for he was essentially a giver and not a taker.

Towards the end of his professional life he had two episodes of cardiac arrest. Providentially the first occurred at a meeting of the West Midlands Physicians Association at Dudley Road Hospital, and the second outside the telephone room at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, when a very efficient staff nurse was only two paces behind him, and on both occasions he was successfully resuscitated. He liked to say wryly that he had ‘gone one better than Lazarus’.

After the second episode he retired prematurely and went to live at Seaford, where he enjoyed ten years of seclusion with his charming wife (also a doctor, née Mary Gould), eventually dying from a stroke at the age of 74. There were four sons and a daughter of the marriage, and one of the sons is a solicitor in the family legal practice at Wolverhampton. Hall was slightly eccentric, old fashioned and forgetful, but a magnificent doctor and colleague, and a lovable man who never had an unkind or disloyal thought, and never did an unkind deed.

AGW Whitfield

[, 1976, 2, 705, 765; Lancet, 1976, 2, 751; Bull. Fac. Med. Birm. Univ., 1976]

(Volume VII, page 238)

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