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Biographical entry Gough, Alfred (1883 - 1973)

MRCS 1905; FRCS 1909; MB BCh Leeds 1905; ChM 1910; LRCP 1905; FRCOG foundation 1929.

22 December 1883
20 January 1973
Uppingham, Rutland
General surgeon and Gynaecologist and obstetrician


The following was published in volume 5 of Plarr's Lives of the Fellows

Gough was born in 1883 and educated at Leeds Medical School, which had at the time a staff of outstanding teachers. He graduated in the University of Leeds in 1905, taking the Conjoint Diploma the same year, and served as house physician and surgical registrar at Leeds General Infirmary, and later as surgical tutor and lecturer on surgery in the Medical School.

He made his career as a gynaecological surgeon in Leeds and became consulting surgeon to the Public Dispensary and the Hospital for Women. He was a founding Fellow of the British (now Royal) College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

In retirement he Settled at The Hermitage, Jarvisbrook, near Crowborough in Sussex, but later moved to Aberdeen House, Uppingham, Rutland, where he died on 20 January 1973 aged nearly ninety, and was survived by his wife.

The following was published in volume 6 of Plarr's Lives of the Fellows

Alfred Gough was born in Leeds on 22 December 1883, the son of a plumber. He made his way through elementary and secondary school to the University by sheer hard work gaining scholarships in the days when these were very scarce and the competition very great. He obtained the gold medal in his final year at the Leeds Medical School but little is known of his early activities, apart from records of his house physician, surgical registrar and tutor appointments at Leeds General Hospital. He received his surgical training in the days when it was unusual, if indeed it ever happened, for the surgical team to change into theatre clothes, and right up to his retirement, Alfred Gough never did more in this respect than remove his jacket and waistcoat and don a long white coat over his street trousers!

Gough served in the first world war and was attached to the No 7 General Hospital at St Omer in France with the rank of Captain in the RAMC. He returned to Leeds and was appointed to the staff of the Hospital for Women in 1919. Many anecdotes are told of this time. It is said that when testing the patency of Fallopian tubes, he had a nurse standing on a high stool and holding a saline-filled glass funnel as high above her head as possible. The funnel was attached by means of rubber and glass tubing, the lower end connected to the standard apparatus whose end went into the cervical canal. If the saline solution flowed freely and there was no leak back at the cervix, it was assumed the tubes were patent. Mr Gough always took this test very seriously, but for the rest of the team it was regarded as pure pantomime, for no nurse ever succeeded in holding the funnel up aloft sufficiently steady not to slop its contents on to the people below! Alfred Gough did not confine himself to gynaecological surgery, but would tackle just about any abdominal operation current in his day, besides numerous mastectomies. He did all the operations himself (his house surgeon was usually today's equivalent of a pre-registration houseman and by keeping the patients in hospital a long time (even D's and C's stayed a full fortnight!) he managed to keep his thirty-bedded ward full.

When the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists was created, he was one of the founder Fellows. His honorary appointment at the Hospital for Women should have terminated in 1943 when he reached the age of 60, but he was persuaded to continue until the end of the war. This he interpreted literally by resigning on VE Day - a typical gesture. About this time, he developed a chronic empyema which undermined his health for many years but did not prevent him from country and fell walking, a pleasure he enjoyed until shortly before his death. He retired from practice in 1951 and went to live in Crowborough, Sussex, and later moved to Uppingham, Rutland, where he died on 21 January 1973. He was survived by his wife Dorothy, two daughters and two doctor sons, one of whom, H Martin Gough, is a consultant gynaecologist in Victoria, British Columbia.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Daily Telegraph 24 January 1973 without memoir and information from Myrtle Hicks and from Mr H Martin Gough].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England