INSPIRED by the amazing staff in the NHS who are keeping our community going at this very difficult time, I thought we should look back at some of the doctors and nurses who have looked after the health of those who have lived in our district over the past years.

We will continue to do this over the next few weeks.

This week we will consider three doctors who were practising in the town in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

George and Walter Bannerman

In the Nostalgia page on March 20 we considered the Bannerman brothers, George and Walter, who qualified as doctors and came to High Wycombe to set up their practice. Here they established a considerable reputation amongst the working people of the town.

Walter in particular was a strong advocate of promoting good health by regular exercise.

Shortly after coming to High Wycombe he was appointed President of the Wycombe Phoenix Harriers and Athletic Club. One of the events organised by the club was a 10 mile marathon .

First held in 1911, this followed a course in the south-eastern outskirts of the district.

Walter donated the Dr W B Bannerman Cup for the winner of a “sealed club handicap” category in the race. In 1912 the overall winner of the marathon was J W Tucker of Reading Athletic Club who completed the course in a time of 55 mins. 33 secs.

The winner of the club handicap, for the second year, was H Malcolm in the time of 60 mins.15 secs, with F Brewer second.

The following year, 1913, an athletics meeting was held in April between the Harriers and Maidenhead Athletics Club in Daws Hill Park. This included a one mile relay race for the “handsome cup given by Dr Walter Bannerman”.

This was open to men working in High Wycombe factories and “only seven teams entered when one would have looked for a score of factories competing in health-giving sport”. There were two heats, the winner of the final being the team from Messrs W.Skull & Sons Ltd, “who only just beat Mr E.Gomme’s team on the tape”. In the Club competition Maidenhead beat the Harriers by three events to two.

The customary annual supper for the Harriers took place in September 1913 at the Red Lion Hotel, when Walter “gave some interesting history of the inauguration of the club”. Tantalisingly this is not included in the press report !

In November 1913 the 10 mile sealed handicap race took place, again for the Bannerman Cup, over a different course, this being to Wooburn and back. The race started and finished at the Red Lion Hotel in the High Street. H Malcolm finished first in 58mins.55 sec., but after the handicaps were opened the winner was Herbert [no initial stated] in 62mins.55secs, and a handicap of minus 5 minutes.

H Malcolm was presented with a silver stop-watch and chain, and Herbert with the Cup and “a magnificent marble clock”, prizes well worth winning!

The race was held again in 1914, but in April, but not in the war years, or in 1919 due to “labour troubles”.

It was resumed in 1920, but Walter Bannerman was not present due to “military duties”. He was no longer President of the club in 1921, and the marathon does not appear to have taken place.

Having been widowed in 1910 Walter Bannerman remarried in the summer of 1917 to Maude Oland and seems to have left the district around 1920. During the second world war he was living in Kirkwall in Orkney and was the County Medical Officer for the Orkney Islands.

In the New Year Honours list of 1941/2 he was awarded the OBE. He died in Bridgewater in Somerset aged 81 in 1956.

George Bannerman continued with his doctor’s practice in Oxford Road until retiring to live at 9 Terry Road, High Wycombe. He died in 1937 at the age of 67.

The whereabouts of the Bannerman Cups (presumably there are two of them) is a mystery, if indeed they still survive. Can any reader shed any light on that? If so, please contact Mike Dewey on 01628 525207 or email me

Dr John Turner

Dr Turner came to High Wycombe in 1931, having purchased a practice in the High Street after the death of Dr William Denny.

In the 1860s he moved the surgery to Rye House in Easton Street, a building which still exists.

He was very much involved in the affairs of the town, serving as a councillor for many years and being elected as a Burgess then an Alderman.

He was a Justice of the Peace and served as Mayor in 1841, 1851, and 1867/68. He finally retired from the Corporation in 1875, despite a petition not to do so which was signed by 600 people.

John Turner was the first prominent citizen in Wycombe to publicly support the provision of a hospital for the poorer people in the town. He took a leading part in organising and raising funds for this.

The Cottage Hospital was built in Priory Road and was formally opened on August 24 1875. Dr Turner then actively participated in the overall management of the hospital, chairing virtually every meeting of the Medical Officers until February 6 1884.

Dr John Turner died on March 8 1890, aged 88.

To all our readers - Please remember the Persian saying “this too shall pass”, and keep safe and well.