John Charnley, orthopaedic surgeon, born in 1911, was educated at Bury Grammar School and the Medical School of the Victoria University of Manchester. In 1937, he took up his first post as a resident surgical officer at Salford Royal Hospital, and demonstrated an early talent for making and developing specialist apparatus and equipment. In order to gain experience in laboratory research, Charnley took a post as demonstrator in physiology at King’s College in 1938, but returned to Manchester in 1939 to take up the post of resident casualty officer at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, where he first encountered work in orthopaedics and fractures.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Charnley enlisted as a lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was posted to Dover, where he was part of the evacuation support for British troops at Dunkirk. He was then posted to Egypt as a surgical team officer, and later worked at an Orthopaedic Centre near Cairo, applying to become an orthopaedic specialist in 1942. Charnley was promoted to Temporary Major, and gained valuable orthopaedic experience during the war, continuing to design and make new splints and instruments.
Charnley returned to Manchester in 1946, following his demobilisation, and work under Sir Harry Platt at the Manchester Royal Infirmary as an honorary assistant orthopaedic surgeon and lecturer in orthopaedic surgery, and later as a consultant. In 1949, Charnley became a visiting orthopaedic surgeon at Wrightington Hospital. He began to work on the mobility of the hip in painful hip conditions due to arthritis. His discoveries in this field were made possible by his outstanding ability in engineering, and in working with materials.
In 1961, Charnley established the Centre for Hip Surgery at Wrightington Hospital, where he pioneered and developed prostheses for hip replacement surgery, and studied the acceptance of artificial materials within bone and joint tissues. He was minutely involved in the production and testing of the prosthesis, the materials used, and in inventing the supporting instruments and apparatus required for the operation. The prostheses and equipment were developed by Charnley in a close and long lasting relationship with Chas. Thackray Ltd., manufacturers of surgical instruments. Charnley is also responsible for the design of sterile operating enclosures to reduce the risk of infection, working closely with James Howorth and Co., a specialist company in air filtration. The hip replacement operation is now one of the most common operations performed in the UK.
The publication of Charnley’s work led to visits by orthopaedic surgeons from around the world, who came to undertake training by Charnley at the Centre for Hip Surgery. Charnley published prolifically throughout his career, on a variety of orthopaedic subjects between 1945 and 1960. His book, The Closed Treatment of Common Fractures, published in 1950, would become very influential. From 1960 onwards, his publications focus almost solely on the arthroplasty of the hip.
Charnley held honorary appointments at the Universities in Manchester, and received, among many other honours, an honorary fellowship of the British Orthopaedic Association (1981) and the Lister medal of the Royal College of Surgeons (1975). He was appointed CBE in 1970 and became the first orthopaedic fellow of the Royal Society in 1975. In 1972 Manchester University recognized their outstanding graduate by making him professor of orthopaedic surgery, a post he held until 1976. The citizens of Bury made him a freeman of the borough in 1974, and he was knighted in 1977. Charnley continued to work and give lectures worldwide until his death in 1982.
William Waugh, orthopaedic surgeon, born in 1922, was educated at Eastbourne College, Pembroke College, Cambridge and King’s College Hospital Medical School. He worked first at King’s College, and then as a surgical specialist for the RAF.
He returned to King's College in 1950 as an orthopaedic registrar and later a senior registrar. From 1955 to 1957 he was first assistant in the Nuffield department of orthopaedic surgery at Oxford, and from 1957 to 1977 a consultant surgeon at Harlow Wood Orthopaedic Hospital and Nottingham General Hospital, also serving as a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. From 1977 to 1984, he held the post of Professor of Orthopaedic and Accident Surgery at Nottingham University Medical School.
Waugh’s area of specialism was arthritis of the knee joint, and following his retirement in 1984, he wrote several books; John Charnley: the man and the hip; A history of the British Orthopaedic Association, the first 75 years and also edited the fourth edition of The whiskies of Scotland.