Administrative / Biographical History

MB ChB Manch 1911, MD (Gold medal) 1915, Hon LLD 1951; FRS 1927; FRCP 1942; FRCS (hon) 1955.

Baron Stopford of Fallowfield, known as 'Jock', was professor of anatomy and vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester. He was a pioneer of neurological anatomy and anatomical teaching, and led the University through a period of rapid change in the mid-twentieth century.

Stopford was born near Wigan on 25 June 1888, the son of a coal mining engineer. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School and at the University of Manchester, beginning his long and successful relationship with that institution. He won a large number of honours and prizes; he was Bradley Memorial Scholar in clinical surgery and Tom Jones Memorial Surgical Scholar, he won the Dumville Surgical Prize and the Medical Clinical Prize, and was awarded medals in anatomy, histology and pathology. Stopford held junior hospital appointments at Rochdale Hospital and MRI before being appointed demonstrator of anatomy at the University of Manchester in 1912. Working under Grafton Elliot Smith, Stopford soon turned his attention to the nervous system. In 1915 he was appointed lecturer, and when Grafton Elliot Smith left in 1919, Stopford was appointed professor of anatomy, at the young age of 31. He held this appointment until 1937 when he resigned to concentrate on his administrative duties and was appointed to a chair of experimental neurology (he was made emeritus professor in 1956). Stopford was an exceedingly popular lecturer, and pioneered the teaching of applied anatomy and the 'living model'. He was one of the earliest of the modern 'physiological anatomists', relating anatomical structure to function.

During the first world war, Stopford was neurologist to the Second Western General Hospital and afterwards to Grangethorpe Hospital in Manchester. He had the opportunity to examine many gun-shot wounds, and worked closely with Sir Harry Platt on the investigation of peripheral nerve injuries and rehabilitation. Stopford became interested in sensory perception, and in 1930 published his well known, Sensation and sensory pathway. He worked closely with the surgical professors, Telford, Jefferson, Platt and Morley, who also became close personal friends. These professors pioneered the development of surgical and neurological specialties. Stopford's main research interests were the brain system, peripheral nerve and sensory perception, and the sympathetic nervous system. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1927, being the first graduate of the Manchester Medical School to receive this honour. He was also honorary advisory anatomist at MRI, 1923-1945.

While Stopford was at the height of his anatomical career, he was persuaded to devote more of his time to administration of the University. He had been dean of the medical faculty twice in the 1920s and 1930s, and was pro-vice-chancellor and temporary vice-chancellor, before being appointed vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester in 1935. Stopford held this position until 1956 when he was succeeded by Mansfield Cooper. Stopford was a popular choice both among students and staff, and he fulfilled their expectations. During his time as vice-chancellor, Stopford oversaw major developments at the University and Medical School, including the building of the new University Library and the establishment of the medical residential hall, Lister House. He was widely liked and respected by students and staff, and within the wider community, where he was seen as a great Manchester man. Stopford was granted the freedom of the City of Manchester in October 1956. He was awarded a knighthood in 1941, and in 1958 was one of the first people to be awarded a life peerage. Stopford was president of MMS in 1931, and vice-president of the British Anatomical Society. He was on a large number of councils and committees, including Manchester institutions and national medical bodies. Stopford was the first chairman of the Manchester Regional Hospital Board. He was also a longstanding member of the General Medical Council, having been appointed in 1927, and made Chairman of Business in 1939. Stopford held honorary degrees from Dublin, Leeds, Durham, Cambridge and Liverpool as well as Manchester. He retired to the Lake District in 1956, where he died on 6 March 1961

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See also MMC/1/Stopford