Lives of the fellows

Edmund Christopher Turton

b.24 July 1915 d.4 August 1983
MRCS LRCP(1944) MB BCh Oxon(1944) MA(1945) MRCP(1945) MSc Lond(1947) DPM Brist(1950) MD(1954) FRCPsych(1971) FRCP(1971)

The son of a barrister who was killed in the first world war, Christopher Turton was born in London. He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, before going on to St Bartholomew’s Medical School in London where he qualified in 1944, obtaining the MRCP the following year. After a post as house physician on the medical professorial unit at St Bartholomew’s, he worked as a registrar in the Radcliffe penicillin unit of the MRC, before becoming senior lecturer in physiology at St Bartholomew’s. During this time he published a number of papers concerned both with the use of penicillin, then very new, and various physiological subjects. He obtained the London MSc in physiology in 1947. His increasing interest in neurophysiology led him to the field of psychiatry and the study of electroencephalography.

In 1949 he became registrar in psychiatry at the Barrow Hospital in Bristol, obtaining the Bristol DPM in 1950, in which year he also moved on to become a senior registrar, and thence to consultant status in 1951. Thereafter he continued his research work in electroencephalography, obtaining the London MD in this field in 1954. He took over and built up the small EEG department at the Barrow Hospital and was also much involved in the teaching of medical students. In 1958 he took the unusual step for that time of moving from the University setting to Park Prewett Hospital in Basingstoke. There were strong family reasons for this move but prior to his early retirement in December 1973, the contribution he made to the advancement of the care and treatment of patients at that hospital was inestimable. His work as a member of the management committee of the hospital achieved much.

In 1971 he was elected fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Despite his high academic attainments, Christopher was an extremely modest, unassuming individual with an excellent sense of humour. Never a man to push himself forward, he nevertheless gave unstintingly of his time and great experience to all who asked of him, and his quiet, friendly charm and obvious ability won the affectionate respect of patients and colleagues alike.

He was a man of culture, education and refinement, a good teacher, of clear judgement. His ability to work smoothly in even the most difficult situations was considerable. A keen yachtsman and a skilled fly fisherman, he was never happier than when out on a day’s fishing with his wife. Sadly, the last few years of his retirement were marred by progressive ill health which he bore with philosophic resignation. He was survived by his wife, Jean (née Martin), whose care and devotion did so much to make his last years as happy as his declining health would permit, and by the two children of a former marriage.

JS Lyon

[Brit.med.J., 1983, 287, 697]

(Volume VII, page 583)

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