Holt Radium Institute

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 MMC/9/23
  • Former Reference
      GB 133 J b 18
  • Dates of Creation
  • Physical Description
      28 items

Scope and Content

Documents relating to HRI before its merger with Christie Hospital in 1932

Administrative / Biographical History

The Manchester and District Radium Institute was founded in 1914. Surgeons at MRI, backed by funding from the brewing family of Holts, decided to use their own resources, and independently of Owens College, to develop the use of radium. Sir William Milligan, an ENT specialist at MRI, was interested in using radium to treat cancer of the larynx. The brewer Sir Edward Holt promised £4,000, and the Manchester and District Radium Fund was begun. The Fund aimed to buy radium and set up a small laboratory in the basement of MRI. Professor Schuster and Professor Ernest Rutherford were members of the Technical and Scientific subcommittee of the Fund; this subcommittee considered how much radium was needed in the Manchester area. It was decided that the fund needed to raise £25,000. Local 'radium' days were arranged and collections made in the workplaces, public houses and clubs. By August 1914, a total of £31,000 had been raised.

The Manchester And District Radium Institute was created from the proceeds in 1914, operating as a department of the Infirmary, with its own medical officer and physicist. The scheme was intended to be self-supporting rather than a charity. Participating hospitals and surgeons could use the radium for a charge; the scheme was the first common medical service arranged by the major Manchester hospitals. In 1920 the Institute moved to Lister House, a former nursing home on Nelson Street. The Institute had fourteen beds, but increasing numbers of patients and increasingly successful treatments, proved the number of beds to be insufficient. The supply of radium also could not keep up with demand. Manchester possessed the second largest supply of radium in the country, but producers were curtailing supply in order to maintain a high cost. In 1930, the government purchased a large amount of radium and set up the National Radium Commission to supply radium to National Centres. The Northern Radium Centre was established at the Manchester Radium Institute with Dr Ralston Paterson as its director. Paterson was also director of the Manchester Radium Institute. Both the Manchester Radium Institute and Christie hospital were lacking in space, so it was decided to relocate in Withington and combine. In 1932, the Institute joined with the Christie Hospital and moved to a site at Withington, South Manchester, and was renamed the Holt Radium Institute.


Brian W. Fox, Christie's: Christie Hospital and Holt Radium Institute, A brief history of a world famous cancer hospital, Christie Hospital NHS Trust, Manchester 1996.