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Biographical entry Greenwood, William Pickup (1900 - 1955)

MRCS 29 July 1926; FRCS 12 December 1929; LRCP 1926; MRCP 1933; DPH 1935; MB BS London 1927; MD 1932.

16 August 1900
29 August 1955
General surgeon


Born on 16 August 1900, eldest son of James Greenwood of Blackburn, he served for two years in the Royal Flying Corps in the first world war. Afterwards he studied pharmacy in Blackburn Technical College, and by means of scholarships he worked his way at St Bartholomew's Hospital to study medicine. There he gained various prizes, including the Willett Medal for operative surgery and qualified in 1926.

Greenwood became house surgeon to Joseph Cunning and Cecil Joll at the Royal Free Hospital. Joining the hospital service of the London County Council, he went as assistant medical officer to Dulwich Hospital. In 1932, at the age of 31, he obtained the MD and was appointed medical superintendent of the Bethnal Green Hospital with 650 beds.

In his student days Greenwood kept himself by working in a chemist's shop at night, and this long habit of hard work remained all his life. In addition to his work at Bethnal Green Hospital he read for the Bar in his spare time. He was interested in socialism and translated his political beliefs into reality. Generous and kind to the unfortunate, he founded the Greenwood Club for the old people of Bethnal Green, and an infant welfare centre was also named after him. During the war he proved to be a calm and competent chief throughout the heavy bombardment of that area. There was a storm of protest when he was obliged, against his will, to relinquish his post of medical superintendent at the introduction of the National Health Service.

Aware of his lack of cultural background, Greenwood in later life achieved one ambition by studying music at the Tobias Matthay School and another by sending a younger brother to Oxford. Greenwood was an excellent teacher and trainer for nurses and doctors. He died, after a short illness, on 29 August 1955, at the age of 55. He was unmarried.


Some observations on acute dilation of the stomach, illustrated by cases LCC Ann Rep, Supplement, 1935

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1955, 2, 682 by JN with appreciation by CWB].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England