Lives of the fellows

Anthony Batty Shaw

b.19 June 1922 d.19 March 2015
BA Oxon(1942) BM BCh(1945) MRCP(1946) DM(1952) FRCP(1968)

Anthony Batty Shaw (known as ‘Tony’) was a senior physician at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and also a medical historian. Tony was born in London, where his father, Harold Batty Shaw [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IV, p.467], was a distinguished physician on the staff of University College Hospital. His mother, Muriel Agnes Eillison Shaw née Watson, was an accomplished musician and violinist.

Tony was educated at Rugby School and Balliol College, Oxford, where he was taught, amongst others, by Lord Solly Zuckerman [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IX, p.612]. He gained a university scholarship to Guy’s Hospital in London for his clinical years. He was a good rugby player for Oxford University and Guy’s Hospital. In the Cambridge-Oxford match he played in the scrum against John Stephens: later they became colleagues on the consultant staff at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, John Stephens as a consultant surgeon.

On qualification Tony undertook house appointments with many famous physicians at Guy’s Hospital and then, in 1946, entered National Service as a medical officer in the RAMC to the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment. He served in the Middle East and Cyprus, and was mentioned in despatches for services in Palestine.

He was demobilised in 1948 and went on to receive further training at the Brompton Hospital in chest diseases and then had a broad-based education back at Guy’s. From 1952 to 1953 he held an Arthur Durham travelling studentship to visit medical centres in Scandinavia, Canada and the USA, and was for a short time resident assistant physician at Bellevue Hospital, New York, part of Columbia University. After this he served on a rotating senior registrar post between the Bromley Group of Hospitals and Guy’s. All this provided him with excellent credentials to replace Branford Morgan [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.412] as a consultant at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital in 1956, a post he held with distinction until he retired in 1987. He was also a member of the medical committee of the Norwich Union Insurance Societies.

In addition to his work at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, he also looked after patients in Cromer Cottage Hospital and was always prepared to do domiciliary visit on patients for GPs throughout Norfolk and Suffolk. Like many of those trained in these years, keeping patients in the community was a priority, unless they needed full investigation, in which case they were admitted for a few days – a cost-effective way preferred by general practitioners and patients, particularly those coming from the far corners of East Anglia.

His interest in postgraduate medical education made him an ideal person to become the first clinical tutor to the Norfolk and Norwich Institute for Medical Education. One of the finest multidisciplinary centres in the UK for the education of doctors, nurses, radiographers and physiotherapists, it was constructed out of the old outpatient and casualty departments, including some of the original 1771 buildings. He became East Anglian regional adviser for the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and hosted a provincial meeting for the RCP at Norwich in 1973.

Like many of his contemporaries, he bemoaned the loss of these excellent postgraduate facilities in the new PFI (private finance initiative) built Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, as well as the absence of the numerous portraits of his predecessors who had helped the Norfolk and Norwich achieve its national and international reputation.

Tony served on many committees at a local, regional and national level connected with medicine. He was also as a trustee of the Norwich Consolidated Charities and Anguish’s Educational Foundation and Norwich Town Close Estate Charity, and was a governor of Norwich School.

His commitment to the history of Norfolk and Norwich medicine knew no bounds. He wrote many monographs and booklets that were all well researched, and he was a fluent lecturer to a variety of audiences, usually performing without notes. He researched the history of the Norwich Medico-Chirurgical Society, of which he was first secretary and later president (in 1974), and also that of the Norfolk and Norwich Benevolent Medical Society. His monograph Norfolk and Norwich Hospital: lives of the medical staff (1971) is still an excellent source of reference. He was heavily involved in the celebrations and publications over the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital’s bicentenary in 1971. The marvellous public display in the Castle Museum of portraits and other artefacts owed much to his efforts and enthusiasm.

In 1992 he produced Norfolk & Norwich medicine: a retrospect (Norwich, the Norwich Medico-Chirurgical Society), which he dedicated to his father who had delivered the annual address to the Norwich Medico-Chirurgical Society in 1913. This small book is a classic and the historian Lord Robert Blake in a foreword described it as ‘an important contribution to medical history’. He was passionately interested in the Norwich school of lithotomy, the period when bladder stones were endemic in Norfolk, particularly in children. Many sought his advice on this subject in the UK and the USA when looking into the aetiology of this endemic problem.

On arriving in Norwich Tony and his family rented a house in The Close, and so began a long association with Norwich Cathedral and the parish of St Mary in the Marsh. They later moved to Appleacre in Barford, their permanent home. For many years thereafter the Batty Shaw family worshipped at the church of St Peter Mancroft, where Tony served as sidesman and where one of his heroes, Sir Thomas Browne [Munk’s Roll, Vol.I, p.321], is buried. In 1977 Tony was invited to give the prestigious Vicary lecture at the Royal College of Surgeons of England on ‘Sir Thomas Browne: the man and the physician’. This was a fluent performance, interrupted only by a power failure which stopped the lecture in which he was showing superb slides! Typical of Tony, he started again at the beginning and finished his erudite performance with a recording of the St Peter Mancroft church choir singing Sir Thomas Browne’s ‘Dormitive’ set to music.

Tony also wrote an excellent book on Sir Thomas (Sir Thomas Browne of Norwich Norwich, Browne 300 Committee) to mark the tercentenary of his death in 1982. A second impression was produced in 2005 on behalf of the Browne 2005 committee, of which Tony was a prominent member, to celebrate the birth of Sir Thomas in 1605. Tony was also instrumental in getting wall plaques placed adjacent to Browne’s Meadow in The Close, now a car-park, and another plaque for John Caius [Munk’s Roll, Vol.I, p.37], an early president of the Royal College of Physicians, and refounder of Gonville and Caius College of Cambridge. The plaque to Caius was placed in King Street, Norwich, where he was born, and unveiled by the then president of the RCP.

In 1954 Tony married Patricia Heckels, a lady almoner at Guy’s Hospital. She became chairwoman of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes from 1977 to 1981. She died in 2004 and in 2012 Tony moved into a retirement/nursing home in Farmoor, Oxfordshire, to be nearer his only daughter Susan Corrie and her family of two, a girl and a boy. He celebrated his 90th birthday in June 2012 and many of his friends and former colleagues, and the parishioners of St Mary in the Marsh and Norwich Cathedral, sent him greetings. Following his death, the council of the Norwich Medico-Chirurgical Society established the Batty Shaw prize, awarded to the most outstanding student as judged by his or her peers.

N Alan Green

[The Telegraph 17 June 2004 www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1464708/Patricia-Batty-Shaw.html – accessed 14 May 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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