Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Blacklay, James Brydon (1921 - 2013)

MB BS London 1943; FRCS 1948; DLO 1953.

16 February 1921
Accrington, Lancashire
5 March 2013
Smeet, Kent
ENT surgeon


James Bryden Blacklay was a consultant ENT surgeon to the South East Kent Health District from 1957 until his retirement in 1981. He worked at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Folkestone, with sessions at the Buckland Hospital, Dover, the William Harvey Hospital at Willesborough, Ashford, and the Victoria Deal Walmer and District War Memorial Hospital. He described his work as 'run of the mill for a provincial ENT surgeon', but found in it great satisfaction and prided himself on keeping his waiting lists short. Over time the pattern of work in his area changed, such that he was never without a challenge.

He was born on 16 February 1921 in Accrington, Lancashire, to Oliver Henry Blacklay, a general practitioner who had an Edinburgh FRCS and MD, and Emily Mabel Blacklay (née Forsyth), a teacher who had gained an Edinburgh MA. Educated at Crewe County Secondary School and Leys School, Cambridge, James Blacklay attended the London Hospital Medical College from 1938 to 1943.

Immediately after qualification, he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as a surgeon lieutenant and for a time was shore-based in Ceylon. Later he served in V-class destroyers in the Far East Fleet.

He was demobilised in 1947 and returned to postgraduate training at the Hammersmith Hospital as a house surgeon to George Grey Turner and Ian Aird, both of whom he greatly respected. He moved on to the Royal Cancer Hospital (later renamed the Royal Marsden Hospital) as a house surgeon to Lawrence Abel and Ronald Raven. Blacklay had hoped to become a general surgeon, but after the Second World War competition was particularly heavy. Having gained the FRCS in December 1948, he eventually decided to switch to ENT and passed the diploma in laryngology and otology in 1953 whilst a registrar at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital. He completed his training as senior ENT registrar at King's College Hospital, from 1954 to 1957, and was appointed consultant ENT surgeon to the South East Kent Health District in 1957.

As a member of the British Medical Association, Blacklay served his local branch as honorary treasurer and honorary secretary. He was also a founder member of the Semon Club (an academic group of ENT surgeons named after the laryngologist, Sir Felix Semon).

In 1962 Blacklay bought Washington Farm, 10 acres of pasture, where for 30 years he single-handedly reared a flock of 35 breeding ewes. To add to this work, in 1977, he planted a small vineyard which produced 100-150 bottles of white wine per year, and kept bees.

James Blacklay married Margaret Elizabeth Calbourne (née Johnson) in 1948. They had two daughters: Sarah, born in 1950, who became a teacher, and Harriet, born in 1951, who qualified in medicine in 1975 and became a general practitioner. Her daughter, Eleanor, has become the fourth generation of her family to qualify in medicine.

James Blacklay died on 5 March 2013 at the age of 92. Predeceased by his wife, he was survived by his daughters, six grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Neil Weir

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2013 347 4850].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England