BSc (Anat and Physiol) Manch 1932, MB ChB 1935; FRCS Edin 1938.
Thornley gained his medical education in Manchester and was house physician at MRI. Thornley specialised in urology and was chief assistant to the urological service at Christie Hospital and to the genito-urinary department at Salford Royal Hospital. Thornley was later appointed visiting surgeon to Bolton Royal Infirmary and District Hospital and urologist to Leigh Infirmary. Thornley was a member of the British Association of Urological Surgeons and a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine (a member of the Section of Urology).