1950s radiology and radiography

Post-war radiology

Many changes took place in the new post-war world. There were many changes from the pre-war world, not least the discoveries of nuclear physics. Sir John Cockcroft from Harwell reviewed the future role of atomic energy in industry, science and medicine in May 1956 (Cockcroft BJR 1956; 29(341): 256-260).  PMS Blackett gave the Silvanus Thompson memorial Lecture in 1957 and reviewed the elementary particles of nature (Blackett BJR 1958; 31(361): 1-10).


Image source: Cockcroft BJR 1956; 29(341): 256-260)


When Blackett had started working with Ernest Rutherford in 1921 there were only two elementary particles known! Frederick Dainton discussed radiation chemistry in his Silvanus Thompson memorial Lecture of 1958  (Dainton BJR 1958; 31(372): 645-659).

The NHS had been set up in the late 1940s and its impact on radiology was discussed by Richard Fawcitt from Manchester (BJR 1950; 23 (271): 413 -415). The 1950s were difficult as the UK recovered slowly from Second World War and there were many shortages with rationing continuing well into the decade. Richard Fawcitt returned to this topic in his Presidential Address of 1950 (Fawcitt BJR 1951; 24 (278): 57-66) when he emphasised the need for a unity of purpose and co-operation and he believed that opportunity was knocking at the door. These opportunities could be met by research and this was reviewed by WV Mayneord in June 1954 (Mayneord BJR 1954; 27(318): 309-317).


The Sixth International Congress of Radiology

The Sixth International Congress of Radiology took place in London 1950 under the Presidency of Ralston Paterson.  It was described by S Cochrane Shanks (Diagnostic Vice –President) (Cochrane Shanks BJR 1950; 23(271): 381-382) and discussed by LH Gray (Gray BJR 1950; 23(271); 382-384) who reviewed the first Congress that had held in London in 1925 under the Presidency of Charles Thurstan Holland. JE Roberts reviewed the developments in radiological physics that had occurred since the previous Congress (Roberts BJR1950; 23(271): 384-386).  Interesting biographical notes of the Congress Presidents appeared with photographs of Thurstan Holland and Ralston Paterson (BJR 1950;23 (271: 389-389). The Congress was a huge success (BJR 1951; 23 (273); 513-515) with over 400 papers presented and 3000 delegates. The opening ceremony was on 24 July 1950 with Ralston Paterson in the chair (BJR 1950; 23(273): 516-524) and his Presidential Address is reproduced. There was a large technical exhibition that was opened by Her Majesty the Queen (BJR 1950; 23(273); 525-526) and of particular interest was a display by the Radiochemical Centre of the Ministry of Supply.

6th International Congress of Radiology

 Opening of the 6th Internaltional Congress of Radiology - Image source: BJR 1950; 23(273): 516-524


The Diamond Jubilee of the BJR

1956 marked the Diamond Jubilee of the BJR, the preface of the first number of the Archives of Clinical Skiagraphy having being dated the  2nd April 1896 (BJR 1956; 29(341): 233-234). 

G Stead wrote on 60 years of radiology (Stead BJR 1956; 29(341): 234-238) and reviewed changes in both physics and in the Institute. Stead gave the Silvanus Thompson memorial Lecture in 1959 and gave a masterly account of the developments from 1895 to 1918 (Stead BJR 1959; 32 (379): 425-431). He duplicated Röntgen's famous experiment in his talk and it is beautifully illustrated in the article.
Russell Reynolds then reviewed the development of apparatus for diagnostic radiology (Reynolds, BJR 1956; 29 (341): 238-245). Neville S Finzi (himself a pioneer) reviews the development of radiotherapy (Finzi BJR 1956; 29(341): 245-249).

1930 Home made cineradiographic aparatus

Image source: Reynolds, BJR 1956; 29 (341): 238-245


Cuthbert Andrews gave a personal view of X-ray apparatus (Andrews BJR 1956; 29(341): 249-252) and A Lacassagne reviewed radiobiology (Lacassagne BJR 1956; 29(341): 252-253).

The review of 60 years of radiology finished with the American pioneer James T Case (Case BJR 1956; 29 (341): 253-255).

At the end of the decade there was again a discussion of the early days of radiology and G Stead collected the accounts together in July 1959 (Stead BJR 1959; 32(379): 468-471). The speakers were Russell Reynolds, NS Finzi, Sidney Russ and Cuthbert Andrews.


Sir Lawrence Bragg

Sir Lawrence Bragg made fundamental discoveries relating to the structure of matter using X-ray crystallography and gave the Silvanus Thompson Memorial Lecture of 1956 (Bragg BJR 1956; 29 (339): 121-126).  The lecture is fascinating.  His father Sir William Bragg gave the Mackenzie Davidson Memorial Lecture in 1934 (Bragg BJR 1935; 8 (87); 144-154) on X-rays and the coarse structure of material.


Marie and Pierre Curie

Eve Curie wrote an interesting paper describing the lives and work of her parents Pierre and Marie Curie and appearing in the July 1950 BJR (Curie BJR 1950; 23(271): 409-412). 



Frederick Soddy (1877-1956)

Frederick Soddy worked with Rutherford from 1902 and was BIR president (Russ BJR 1956;  29(347): 584). He was an outstanding chemist and did pioneer work on the chemistry of the radio-elements.

Arthur Schüller

Arthur Schüller, the pioneer neuroradiologist from Vienna, died in 1957 (BJR 1959; 32(373): 49-50).  His contributions to the new field were significant.

Margaret Tod

Margaret Tod died in 1953 and made many significant contributions. She had been appointed Deputy Director of the Holt Radium Institute in Manchester in 1937. The “Manchester Method” for treating cervical cancer was revised by Margaret Tod and WJ Meredith in May 1953 (Tod and Meredith BJR 1953; 26(305): 252-257) having been first described by them in 1938 (Tod and Meredith BJR 1938; 11 (132): 809-824).

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