Lives of the fellows

James Bennett Livingston Tombleson

b.21 August 1908 d.2 July 1993
MRCS LRCP(1932) MB BS Lond(1932) MD(1937)DPH(1939) MRCP(1941) FRCP(1971) MFOM(1978)

‘Jim’ Tombleson was born at Westcliffe-on-sea, Essex, where his father was a medical practitioner. He was educated at Wellesley House, Broadstairs, and went on to Harrow School. He trained in medicine at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, and his career started in the children’s department there, as house physician and clinical assistant. He subsequently became assistant medical officer at Highgate Hospital, followed by senior assistant medical officer at the Northern Hospital, Winchmore Hill. During this period he obtained his DPH and membership of the College. He also published a number of papers on general clinical medicine in the BMJ and the Lancet. During the second world war he switched across to industrial medicine, as it was initially called, and became medical officer to the Bedford Engineers Medical Service. He contributed to the new British Journal of Industrial Medicine in 1946, collaborating with Donald Hunter’s department for research in industrial medicine [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.288] at The London Hospital, in a clinical and experimental study of Raynaud’s phenomenon in grinders of small metal castings.

In 1949 he took the newly created diploma of industrial health, moved to the factory medical inspectorate and was posted to Manchester where he remained until his retirement. As a medical inspector of factories Tombleson collaborated closely with the University department of occupational health, under R E Lane, in its research into respiratory disease and dust levels in cotton mills. From this work he became joint author of two papers reporting the results which were published in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine in 1970 and 1973. In 1971 he was elected a Fellow of the College and, with the establishment of the government’s employment medical advisory service in 1972 and the passing of the Health and Safety at Work Act, he was appointed as senior employment medical adviser in the North West of England.

Jim’s stooped mien, genial manner and habit of swallowing the end of his sentences, earned him the affectionate sobriquet ‘Jim Tumbledown’ among his juniors. He married Edith Elizabeth Mary née Williams in 1947. There were no children of the marriage. After retirement he continued to live in the Manchester area and retained his interest in what by now was called occupational medicine, through his active membership of the Society of Occupational Medicine. In later years he suffered a stroke which, with courage and patience, he soon learned to live with successfully. He died suddenly of a massive cerebral haemorrhage. His wife predeceased him.

W R Lee

[Brit.med.J., 1993,307,932-3]

(Volume IX, page 522)

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