Lives of the fellows

Sydney Walpole Hardwick

b.3 May 1903 d.23 September 1968
MRCS LRCP(1927) MB BS Lond(1927) MD(1930) MRCP(1931) DPM Eng(1932) MRCP(1931) FRCP(1962)

Sydney Walpole Hardwick was born in Tredegar, Monmouthshire, the son of a journalist, Walter Osborne Hardwick and his wife, Charlotte Maris, née Walpole. After his school days were over he went to the University of Wales, in Cardiff, where he took his BSc. He always valued his Welsh associations and when he could attend gatherings of Welsh folk he would be found at the piano. From Cardiff he went to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, where he qualified in medicine in 1927, going on to the MD London in 1930 and MRCP in 1931.

Psychiatry was to be his field. He was a houseman in the Maida Vale Hospital, took the Diploma in Psychological Medicine, and after he joined the LCC Mental Hospital Service in 1932 held posts at Claybury, Tooting Bee and Horton hospitals. He became Deputy Medical Superintendent at West Park Hospital in 1938, and enriched with his keen interest all that he touched. He was a mainstay of the weekly musical evenings there, and his playing of Schubert, Mozart and especially of Debussy - ‘whom he adored’ - is not forgotten. In time he became a member of the Council for Music in Hospitals.

He showed a quiet distinction in his psychiatric work; quiet because this modest, gentle and kind man was never one to put himself forward or to flaunt his opinions. In 1936 he won the Gaskell Royal Medal and Prize of the Royal Medico-Psychological Association. He became a Divisional Chairman of the RMPA and a member of its Council. In 1946 he became medical superintendent of what was then the City of London Mental Hospital, at Stone, near Dartford, Kent, a post which he held until 1959. He was a clear lecturer and a sound clinician. Although not against psychotherapeutic methods, he was himself mainly a student of the influence of endocrine and metabolic factors in the causation and treatment of mental disorder.

Great was his care for all that promoted the welfare of the hospitals, the patients and the staff - helping the advance of young doctors and nurses, and smoothing out difficulties of personal relationships. Above all, he gave immense thought and time to those depressed, self-absorbed and querulous men and women whose symptoms remained in spite of treatment; he deliberately set out to carry something of their burdens, to relieve so far as he could these patients, their families and the staff caring for them. With all this one would have thought that he was fully occupied, but he still found time to enjoy bowls, music, free-masonary, fine wine and cheerful companionship. It does not appear that the paroxysmal tachycardia, from which he sometimes suffered, interfered seriously with his work or his recreations.

He was appointed part-time consultant physician to the Department of Psychological Medicine at the Royal Free Hospital in 1948 and became head of the Department in 1957, and remained so until his death in 1968.

After an early marriage had apparently ended in the death of his wife in a tragic accident, he married in 1943 Margaret Joan Moore, herself a Royal Free graduate. They had two sons (one also medically qualified, from the Royal Free), and four daughters. Theirs was ‘a supremely happy family life’.

As the date of Sydney Hardwick’s retirement approached, he found himself able to visit Greece, which he had longed to do. He and his wife spent a holiday there, at last. Returned home, they were preparing for an evening meal and he went to choose from among his own wines one worthy of this occasion. In a few moments someone went to look for him, but his heart had finally given out. Added years might have given him other duties and enjoyments; nothing could have added to the quality of goodness which shone out from his life and work.

IGH Wilson

[, 4, 61]

(Volume VI, page 218)

<< Back to List