Lives of the fellows

Alexander Louis Wingfield

b.8 July 1907 d.23 November 1969
MRCS LRCP(1931) MB BS Lond(1932) MD(1934) MRCP(1934) FRCP(1963)

Alexander Wingfield was born in Finchley, London. His father, Bernard Robert, was an engineer of West Drayton, Middlesex, and his mother, Helen Emma, was the daughter of George Alexander Judge, a land owner. On neither his mother’s nor father’s side was there any inclination towards medicine, but he showed an early interest in entering the medical profession.

He went to school first at the preparatory school, Colet Court, and later on to his public school, St. Paul’s, going from Junior to Senior School as a Foundation Scholar. From there he proceeded without interruption to St. Thomas’s Hospital, London, obtaining his degree MB BS Lond, in 1932. When he qualified he was appointed house physician to the Willesden General Hospital, London, and when there he decided that this was the place where he would spend his life’s work in medicine, a remarkable decision to be made so early in a medical career.

He followed the appointment at the Willesden Hospital by taking up a post at the Royal Free Hospital and then at the Brompton, where he became one of the team of early workers using the techniques of artificial pneumothorax. In the same year, 1934, he wrote his MD thesis for the University of London.

After this he moved as a senior registrar to King’s College Hospital and medical registrar at the National Heart Hospital, in both of which appointments he continued his training in chest diseases and became fully familiar with diseases of the cardiovascular system.

His first consultant appointment came in 1939 when he was appointed physician to the Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital, Greenwich. During his Army service he was a Lieutenant Colonel in charge of a Medical Division and physician to the Emergency Medical Service. On the cessation of hostilities he returned to his hospital appointments and became a physician to the Chest Department at St. Stephen’s Hospital, an appointment which he resigned in 1951. It was in 1946 that he achieved his early ambition and was appointed consultant physician to the Willesden General Hospital. Also, after the War, he became honorary cardiologist to St. Andrew’s Hospital, Dollis Hill, London.

His close friendship with the late Dr. Jenner Hoskin and Dr. A. Hope Gosse stimulated his interest in the Medical Society of London of which he became a Fellow in 1935. He played an ever increasing part in the affairs of this Society, becoming a Member of Council, Secretary, Treasurer and finally, to his great joy, the President in 1963. The historical traditions of this Society so captivated his imagination that he was one of the instigators of a Society built on similar lines at his own hospital, the Willesden General. Young though this Society may be, its thriving activity in the years since he was its president have shown that it too is destined for a long and distinguished existence.

Alex Wingfield, as his career proceeded, became steadily a more attractive star in the medical life of London. People came to his hospital from afar. Many came as patients, many came as students, and some came as friends to share his interests and knowledge. As a teacher he was demanding and would not suffer fools. Lighter moments came when his love of bibliography would allow him to digress from the main theme with anecdotes.

Medicine was his major interest in life and he had little time for relaxation. When he could he read widely, and before illness prevented him from doing so he played golf as often as he could get away from his practice.

Ill health marred his later years of work but he never gave up; even when he was unable to come into the hospital he was writing and preparing and in touch with his colleagues and patients to the end.

He was sustained in the years after the second world war by his marriage in 1941 to Margaret Wenda, daughter of Charles Faulkner, a company director of Hale, Cheshire. Their happy marriage was followed by the birth of two daughters whose education and launching into professional life was a comfort in his later years.

When he could no longer manage at home he returned as he had begun to his own hospital, the Willesden General, where he died.

EM Jepson

[Brit.med.J., 1969, 4, 625; Lancet, 1969, 2, 1261; Willesden & Brent Chronicle, 28 Nov 1969]

(Volume VI, page 469)

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