Records of the Fothergill Club

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Records of the Fothergill Club, collated by the successive convenors of the club, and including minutes of meetings and other administrative correspondence relating to attendance at and arrangements for meetings, organisation of overseas visits and recruitment and membership matters.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Fothergill Club was named after the eminent gynaecologist, William Edward Fothergill (1865-1926). WE Fothergill himself had been a teacher and professor of Obstetrics at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, after completing his medical degree at Edinburgh in 1893. He modified Archibald Donald’s operation for uterine prolapse, which became known as the Fothergill operation.

Fothergill firmly believed that gynaecologists should have some obstetrical training and tried to bring greater logic into the classifications used in gynaecology. He was against the anatomical classification of diseases used in books and lectures, as the same disease process could occur anywhere in the body, and the fact that symptoms were often made into diseases. He recommended an alternative pathological classification instead and promoted his own classification in his book Manual of Diseases of Women, in 1920. In the introduction to this book, he wrote his opinion that “no one who has not in one way or another become a good obstetrician can ever hope to understand the diseases of women."

The Fothergill Club, inspired to some extent by this reputation, was founded by Theodore Redman (1916-2004), former Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, with two of his colleagues. The idea for such a society arose at a meeting of the North of England Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society in 1957, when a group of members who had also been together at St Mary’s, Manchester, like WE Fothergill, felt that there was a place for a new gynaecological club which would exist mainly to visit other centres of excellence in Britain and overseas, and to combine study of the specialty with what the club termed the “Art of Living”. It was also recognised by Theodore Redman that other similar societies were very full at that time.

The inaugural meetings were held on the 8th and 9th May 1958 in Plymouth, after initial discussions on the 26th July 1957, in Manchester. The Club's founding members, apart from Theodore Redman, were Sir John (Jack) Dewhurst, later President of the RCOG from 1975-1978 ,Tiger Bevis, Howard Rowley, Frank Da Cunha, Tom Fitzgerald, Tubby Lawton, Gordon Napier and Alan Robson. At the club meetings in May and November 1958, it was decided that membership should be restricted to twenty people at any one time, (although this was later increased and allowed for the inclusion of inactive and honorary members) and that nominations should only be put forward at the next meeting after the one at which first contact with a potential member had been made. It was also agreed that prospective members' Cvs should be circulated to all current members, so that any reservations about a nomination could be expressed.

The Fothergill club had a varied annual programme of academic and cultural activities, combining business and scientific meetings with visits to places of interest, which allowed members' spouses and partners to travel with the club on most occasions and participate in these cultural aspects. From 1958 onwards, the Club became a successful travelling group that visited specialists in many European cities and in the United States. Visits were made in the UK and abroad in alternate years and meetings were usually held twice a year in May/June and October/November. Theodore Redman produced a history of the Club for circulation to all members, in 2000.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers by appointment, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. archives@rcog.org.uk

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Penny Hutchins, College Archivist in March 2015

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is vested in the Fothergill Club.

Reproductions are available at the discretion of the College Archivist.

Custodial History

These records were passed down through the various Convenors and Secretaries of the Club and were donated to the RCOG Archive between 2006 and 2007.

Corporate Names