Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Pyragh, Leslie Norman (1899 - 1995)

CBE 1963; MRCS and FRCS 1929; BSc Leeds 1922; MB ChB Leeds 1924; ChM Leeds 1930.

11 April 1899
30 April 1995
General surgeon and Urological surgeon


Leslie Norman Pyragh was born at Farnley, near Leeds, on 11 April 1899, the son of a headmistress. Unfortunately no further details of his forbears are available. He was educated at Leeds Central High School and served in the army during the final stages of the first world war. He then read medicine at Leeds University, interrupting his course to take an honours degree in physiology. On qualification he did a wide variety of resident training posts during the next five years, notably with Berkeley Moynihan at the Leeds General Infirmary, where he became surgical tutor. In 1932 he secured a travelling scholarship to visit urological centres in Berlin, Vienna, Copenhagen, Innsbruck and Paris, and was then appointed assistant surgeon to the Leeds Infirmary and Public Dispensary in 1934. He was also visiting surgeon to a number of neighbouring hospitals and lecturer in surgery to Leeds University.

Following appointment as consultant surgeon to St James's Hospital in 1940 and to the Infirmary in 1944 he built up a large general surgical practice. In 1948 he was elected to the council of the British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS) which had only formed three years earlier. He then co-founded the Urological Club, comprising urologists from the teaching hospitals. His consuming interest in urology led him to give up his general surgical practice and start a department of urology in Leeds. By 1956 he was appointed professor of urological surgery in his outstandingly successful department which had attracted researchers of the highest calibre. In the same year he became director of the Medical Research Council Unit in Leeds and set up the first renal haemodialysis unit in the UK with Dr Frank Parsons as its head. He and Professor Bill Spiers persuaded the Wellcome Foundation and other benefactors to fund a four storey research building for the Infirmary which was completed in 1959. Pyragh did outstanding and tireless work in promoting urology and urological specialist centres throughout Britain. He was President of the Urological Section of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1958; President of BAUS from 1961 to 1963; a member of College Council from 1960 to 1968 and was appointed CBE in 1963.

In his youth Leslie Pyragh was a gifted pianist (at one time considering a possible career as a concert pianist) as well as a formidable tennis player. He enjoyed good food and wine and was an excellent cook with a particular taste for sauces. He also collected Chinese porcelain and Dutch paintings. Affectionately known as 'Poppah Pyragh' he had a somewhat portly figure and, even in the hottest climate, he always wore a mackintosh and a crumpled grey felt hat. He was a true Yorkshireman of rugged independence, friendly and approachable, never pulling rank and notably hospitable at all times.

Pyragh married Mary Christopher Bailey in 1934. She died in 1990 and they had a son and a daughter who survived him when he died on 30 April 1995, another son having predeceased him.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 6 May 1995; Daily Telegraph 9 May 1995].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England