History of the Practice


The New Southgate Surgery can trace its lineage back to the 1840's. Our development mirrors the evolution of General Practice from the days of 'apprenticeship to a master' to the current postgraduate vocational training course. In other words, we can trace our history back from the days of apothecary-surgeon to the modern day Primary Health Care Team.

The Brother Surgeons

The earliest line of direct descent of Southgate Surgery can be traced to three brothers who were born in Wragby. The eldest of thirteen, John Horsfall (1797-1859) took up the medical calling when he became apprenticed to Mr Edward Taylor of South Parade, Wakefield. After serving his time for five years, and upon completing six months study under Mr Abernethy, a celebrated surgeon of St Bartholomews, London he qualified in 1818 as a surgeon-apothecary, LSA, MRCS. At that time one could qualify to practice medicine by taking the qualifying examination of Licentiateship of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries (in London, Dublin or Glasgow), or by taking a Licentiateship with the Royal College of Physicians (in London, Edinburgh or Glasgow), or a membership of the Royal College of Surgeons. Graduate entry to the profession was a more expensive route and was not at all the norm in those days. So, as an apothecary and a surgeon, John Horsfall was well qualified.

After he returned to Wakefield, John set up a brass plate in South Parade, where he later took on as apprentices his two brothers, Henry Horsfall (1817-1898) and Francis Horsfall (1821-1901). Between them they held various appointments in and around Wakefield. A notable patient was the eccentric Squire Waterton of Walton Hall, a noted naturalist and explorer who became famous for introducing curare into medical practice.

Henry and Francis were recorded as the first surgeons in the North Riding to perform the operation of Tracheostomy.

An entry in the London and Provincial Medical Directory of 1850 records Henry Horsfall as residing in premises adjoining the Market Cocoa and Coffee Tavern with his surgery in the Manor Courtyard. Within a couple of years he moved to occupy the original Southgate Surgery at 22 Southgate.

Notable Early Partners

In 1865 Henry was practising on his own, John having died in 1859 and Francis having moved away. He was joined in practice by Mr John Whiteley (1840-1886), a surgeon. Later, in 1881, they took Dr William Roulston on as the junior partner. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Roulston was distinguished by holding the degrees of MD, ChMm MAO (apparently, at that time if a graduate of the university took a higher degree, then all three first degrees were converted into higher degrees). The changing pattern of health can be attested to by the fact that, prior to his move to Wakefield, Dr Roulston worked for a year in a smallpox hospital in London.

As the firm of 'Horsfall, Whiteley & Roulston' these three gentlemen practised together until the untimely death of Mr Whiteley and the retirement of Mr Horsfall in 1886. In 1887 Dr Roulston married Marion Florence Horsfall, the neice of his senior partner, and shortly afterwards moved into 22 Southgate. He inherited the posts of Medical Officer to the County Hospital and Staff Surgeon to the West Riding Constabulary - posts which he held for 24 years. An accomplished horseman, often doing his rounds on horseback, Dr Roulston was also a keen golfer. In 1891 he was one of the founder members of the Wakefield Golf Club and was chairman of its management committee for some years. In 1924 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace. He retired in 1921.

In 1901 Dr Roulston was joined in practice by Dr James Milne Hermon. A Scot trained in Edinburgh, this doctor became the Medical Officer of the Wakefield Workhouse and was a certified examiner under the Central Midwifery Board. They continued in practice together until 1918, when Dr Hermon left to take up the post of Medical Officer of Health for Hessle UDC.

In 1919, after seeing active service in a casualty clearing station during the Great War, for which he was awarded the Military Cross with Bar, Dr Thomas Walker arrived at Southgate. This great character is still remembered in Wakefield as an untiring worker and a veritable fanatic for punctuality. His war experience had undoubtedly honed his skills, for he was renowned as a quick consulter - no ten-minute appointments for him. Patients recount being ushered out of the consulting room while they were still fastening up shirtfronts. His standard of medicine was high however and he was considered an astute diagnostician. He was a graduate of Belfast University, from which he gained an MD for a thesis on Diseases of Children. Before the introduction of the NHS he had been appointed an Honorary Consultant Physician to Clayton Hospital, a post he kept until 1948. He had a great interest in medical politics and served on many committees until his retirement in 1963 when, at the age of 79 years, he retired to Bexhill-on-Sea. Dr Walker was proud to have lived up to his own motto - 'never absent, never late'.

In 1933 Dr Walker was joined by Dr Archibald (Archie) M R Heron, a St Andrews graduate. During his time the Southgate Surgery was moved to a site on the other side of Southgate, when the original building was demolished in 1958. Thus, the main practice was run from 5 Southgate and at branch surgeries on Manygates Lane and George-a-Green Road. Dr Heron was a skilled and compassionate doctor, but in addition he was a recognised authority on butterflies and moths. He retired in 1973, when he moved to North Yorkshire.

In 1949, Dr William Roulston Walker, the son of Dr Tom Walker, joined the practice. As the firm of 'Walker, Heron & Walker' they practised for several years, the younger Walker eventually leaving for Australia.

Dr Anthony W I Hall was the next partner in 1954, who was followed by Dr Peter Slater in 1958. Dr Hall unfortunately had to retire on the grounds of ill health in 1960.

The next few years saw several rapid changes. Dr G C Denton became a partner for a year before taking up a practice in Leeds in 1961. Drs D Tranter and Robert England became partners in 1963, but Dr Tranter left shortly afterwards to take up a post in Wolverhampton.

In 1965, Drs David B Oughtibridge and A Michael Dufton joined the Practice. From this point there followed several years of relative stability until Dr Heron's retirement in 1973, when Dr Geoffrey D Slater added his name to the list. When Dr England emigrated to New Zealand in 1979, Dr Keith Souter joined the practice.


The New Southgate Surgery - what's in a name?

In 1981 city redevelopment meant that a compulsory purchase order was served upon the Practice, so we were forced to relocate from Southgate. Understandably, since we obtained land on Borough Road adjoining Northgate, we had to consider the name that we would continue to practice under. It was suggested that we should become Northgate Surgery or the Northgate Health Centre and so on. After much deliberation we felt that since we were a long-established Practice (from the mid 1840's) our patients would know us as Southgate. Of course, we could no longer legitimately be just 'Southgate' since we had moved from that part of town, so we opted to become the 'New Southgate Surgery'. You will note that the term 'Surgery' was also retained since we felt proud of our heritage from the days of the apothecary-surgeons. 

In 1986, Dr David R Fyfe was appointed as a Partner. This marked a point of expansion of the Practice from five to six partners. 

In 1989, Dr Stephen J Wroe joined the Practice, followed shortly after by the retirement of Dr Peter Slater.

1993 marked a change in the Practice when Dr Keith Souter went part-time and Dr Gillian A Brain joined as a part-time Partner.

In 1997, Dr Deborah E Hallott joined as a full-time Partner. In that same year Dr Michael Dufton and Dr David Oughtibridge retired. 

Another Move - but the same name

At the end of 1999 we moved yet again to the present site on Buxton Place. Once again we considered a change of name but, for the same reasons, decided to maintain the New Southgate Surgery.

In 2000, Dr Mukhtiar Ahmed joined the Practice as a full-time Partner.

In 2001 Dr Geoffrey Slater retired and Dr Anthony J Cosimini joined as a full-time Partner. Also in that year, Dr Deborah E Hallott reduced her hours to part-time and later the same year, Dr Philippa J Schofield joined as a part-time partner.

In 2014, Dr Stephen J Wroe retired.

In 2016, Dr Pedro A Welch became a full-time Partner.

In 2017, Dr Aleem Ladak became a part-time Partner.

In February 2019, Dr Anthony J Cosimini reduced his hours to part-time.

In 2020, Dr James Parkin became a full-time Partner.

In 2021, Dr David R Fyfe & Dr Philippa J Schofield retired. Dr Gillian A Brain  became the Senior Partner.

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