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Biographical entry Windeyer, Sir Brian Wellingham (1904 - 1994)

Kt 1961; FRCS ad eundem 1948; FRCS Edinburgh 1930; FRCR 1975; FRCP 1957; MB BS Sydney 1927; DMRE Cambridge 1932; Hon FRACS 1951; Hon FACR 1967; Hon DSc British Columbia 1952; Hon DSc Wales 1965; Hon ScD Cambridge 1971; Hon MD Sydney 1979.

7 February 1904
Sydney, Australia
26 October 1994
Radiologist and Radiotherapist


Brian Windeyer was born in Sydney on 7 February 1904, the son of Richard Windeyer QC, a barrister, and Mabel Robinson, whose father had graduated in medicine at Trinity College, Dublin. His family had been associated with the legal profession in Australia for five generations.

He was educated at Sydney Church of England Grammar School, and St Andrew's College, University of Sydney. As a young man he played rugby as scrum-half for Sydney University and for the combined Australian and New Zealand Universities, and he never lost interest in this sport.

He qualified in 1927 and decided to make radiotherapy his chosen career in medicine. In 1929 he went to Paris to work as assistant to Claude Regaud at the Fondation Curie, and in 1931 he was appointed radium officer to the Middlesex Hospital, an association which lasted for the next 38 years. In 1936 he became medical officer in charge of the new Meyerstein Institute of Radiotherapy, and in 1942 he was appointed to the chair of radiology (therapeutic) at the Middlesex.

With the outbreak of the second world war he was appointed director of the Emergency Medical Service radiotherapy department at Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood, while also working as medical commandant of the Middlesex Hospital. He had a multi-disciplinary approach to cancer and started weekly combined clinics with other specialists and joint ward rounds with Sir Stanford Cade at Mount Vernon, a practice which is universal today, though unusual at that time.

In 1954 he was appointed Dean of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, and within a short time introduced plans for its redevelopment. Generous financial support was forthcoming form Lord Astor of Hever and Sir Edward Lewis and others, and over the next eight years the new school (named the Windeyer Building) and a new students' residence (Astor College) were built. Brian Windeyer always showed great interest in student activities, and held this post until 1967.

He was President of the Faculty of Radiologists from 1949 to 1952, a member of Council of the Royal College of Surgeons from 1948 to 1953, and Hunterian Professor in 1951. He served on numerous governmental committees, including the Royal Commission on Medical Education, and he was Chairman of both the Radioactive Substances Advisory Committee (1961-1970) and the National Radiological Protection Board (1970-1978). He was adviser to the Ministry of Health and the Atomic Energy Authority, and a member of the Medical Research Council. He was knighted in 1961. He was also awarded numerous honorary fellowships and doctorates from universities, both at home and abroad.

In 1967 he was appointed chairman of the academic council of London University, and vice-chancellor two years later (1969-1972). By now a public figure, he was involved in some controversy when he deplored the rising tide of sexual permissiveness and indiscipline amongst students, practices which he did not hesitate to condemn.

Brian Windeyer will be remembered especially for his contributions to radiotherapy, his enormous energy and organisational ability, and his approachability and humanity as a doctor. He married twice - firstly in 1928 to Joyce Russell (they had a son and a daughter) and secondly in 1948 to Anne Bowrey (they had a son and two daughters). He died in Oxford, aged 90, on 26 October 1994.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1994 309 1367, with portrait; Daily Telegraph 14 November 1994].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England