Wilkinson studied medicine at Edinburgh University. He worked in general practice in London, Peterborough and Manchester, before moving to Oldham to practise. He took the DPH from the Victoria University in 1894 and was appointed medical officer of health for Oldham in 1898, a post he held until retirement in 1936. He lectured in public health at the College of Technology, Manchester. Wilkinson was a former president of the Institute of Sanitary Engineers. He was active in the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and for many years was chief surgeon and superintendent of the Oldham Corps of the St. John Ambulance.
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