Our earliest records indicate
that a Mr J Brunskill MRCVS came to Bishops Stortford shortly after
qualifying from the Royal Veterinary College in London in 1886 -and
moved into 87 Rye Street-the house next door . He practised here
and in Puckeridge before his death at a young age in 1901.
practice was sold to Ramsay Millar who handed the succession on
to his two sons just before the second world war; Ramsay and Alistair
all lived in the big house in true "Herriot" fashion. Veterinary
Practices were often sited on a main road with an attached blacksmiths
forge [now our main surgical area] on the outskirts of a town in
order to better serve the needs of dray and coach horses.
the vets who worked here have been Veterinary SURGEONS - a title
protected by the first Charter of Royal Assent given to the Royal
College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1844 and only to be used
by its Members. There was another Veterinary practice in Stortford
at this time at the foot of Windhill next to the Bricklayers Arms
but this was run by a Veterinary Practitioner who was restricted
in what he could do and prescribe and had been trained in a form
of apprenticeship e.g with vets or in the army. These Practitioners
were admitted to the supplementary Veterinary Register but this
was closed in 1948. Such Practitioners have literally faded away
no new admissions to the register being allowed.
The work carried out then would have been very different to now
-farm animals mainly and all types of horses and ponies were the
mainstay together with a few dogs and fewer cats. Cattle sheep and
pigs were driven through the country lanes to the market at Northgate
end for sale each Thursday even into the 1950's. Even newly
arrived shunting horses used to marshal the rolling stock from the
Railway yard were driven loose again through Stortford into the
surgery yard for castration. On one occasion so many were packed
in to the first loose box that the top door grill was bent outward
as it is to this day.
During the First World War mules from the Remount
Core were brought to Rye Street to be branded before being transported
to the continent. We still have part of the stable bearing the inverted
‘crows claw’ brand mark, tested there before being used on the mules.
They were branded on a foot so that in the event of death of his
mount, the cavalryman could cut off and return the foot to his superiors
to prove he had not sold the animal !!
In The 1930s &40's Sir Frederick Hobday FRCVS used to regularly
visit this and other surgeries around London to carry out his famous
Hobday procedure for horses with a paralysed Larynx -the preferred
operating site being the cobbled area in the yard.
Between the wars Mr Millar Sr would keep a saddle fitted with saddle
bags containing medicines by the range in his kitchen overnight
in case of a night call. If summoned he would saddle his hunter
mare and ride across the fields to the farm this being quicker than
by road and car.
petrol was rationed during WW II the pony and trap were used for
visits to eke out the fuel allocation. During refurbishment a message
was found on the back of the instrumentcupboard stating " I made
this May 1915". The cupboard had been in constant
use in situ for seventy years. At the time of its making a range
of dog kennels were fitted in the forge, the fronts of which are
still in use today in the overflow kennels in the stables.
In September 1939 Lionel Wakley joined the practice after
graduation and worked originally with the Millars and then Joe Paterson
and Henry Mills who joined him after the war and service
in the Sudan with the Sudan Government. Lionel worked in Rye Street
continuously for forty two years up to his retirement.
The changes in the Practice reflected the changes in the town &
countryside throughout the post war decades up to the present time.
Bishops Stortford is no longer the sleepy market town of pre war
days, farming livestock have decreased dramatically in this area
in the last twenty years. However the
horse activity has dramatically increased but instead of work horses
the animals treated are hunters riding horses and ponies.
With Progresive urbanisation the pet animal side has blossomed .
In 1985 after extensive refurbishment of the main block the Royal
College of Veterinary surgeons granted " Hospital Status" to the
practice. At present there are still only in the region of 200 designated
Veterinary Hospitals in the whole of Britain.
aim is to continue to meet the changing demands of Veterinary work
, meeting the highest standards of care achievable at the time -this
attitude has been shared by ALL the vets who have worked here right
from the latter part of the last century to the present day. Just
as the practice has successfully survived all the innovative changes
in veterinary medicine and the other political and international
upheavals of the last one hundred years
we are looking forward with confidence to successfully
continuing work in a practice that in 2000 is now in its third century.