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Dr. Gerald Eade Bellamy and Dr. Edward Bellamy, Eythorne Doctors. Part 1, 1914-1929

Dr. Gerald Eade Bellamy MRCS, LRCP (pictured in later life), succeeded Dr. James Graham as the Eythorne Doctor in 1914. He remained as such until he retired in September 1963, his son Dr. Edward Bellamy taking over. As was the case for his predecessor, his practice and home was West End House on the Coldred Road.
Gerald Eade Bellamy was born on 16th April 1880 in Wimpole Street, Marylebone, Middlesex. Gerald’s father was Dr. Edward Bellamy, FRCS head surgeon at Charing Cross Hospital. He married Hilda Mary Streatfeild in 1905 and they had two sons Edward (b1906, Richmond Surrey) and Roger (Rupert? b1911 Richmond Surrey). In the 1911 census they were recorded as living at Blandford, Mortlake Road, Richmond, Surrey. Gerald Bellamy obtained his medical qualification from Charing Cross Hospital in 1901 and by 1903 he was a member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS). His first medical practice was in Kew.
Gerald Bellamy’s arrival in Eythorne more or less coincided with the development of the Kent coalfields. Sinking commenced at Snowdown in 1908, coal first being brought to the surface on 19 November 1912 and sinking commenced at Tilmanstone in 1911 with coal first brought to the surface in March 1916. Gerald Bellamy was involved in dealing with the accidents, incidents and sometimes fatalities at both these collieries in his time as Eythorne doctor. Most of these are well documented in the respective histories of those two collieries. Being very much the family doctor in a rural community, there were, however, a broad variety of other cases he dealt with.
His obituary notice in the newspaper states that when he began at Eythorne he didn’t have a car and that he did his rounds on horseback. It wasn’t until the military commandeered horses in the first world war that he first got a car (the obituary says the first in the village but we know his predecessor had one).
One of the more unusual cases early in his career (July 1916) concerned Mr George Potts of Ashley. He was resting in a wood beneath trees when he was accidentally shot in the head, legs and feet by “sportsmen” from Eythorne hunting rabbits. He was treated by Dr. Bellamy and was said to be progressing favourably.
The first recorded accident on the East Kent Railway (excluding contractors) was in August 1912 when a boy named Charles Williams was knocked from his bicycle on the Eythorne Road Crossing and half of his foot had to be amputated. As the accident was reported to be the boy’s own fault the directors of the railway “decided to take no action”.
Five years later, on Monday 16th July 1917, a much more serious incident occurred. A young stoker, named Charles Edward Warman, 18 years of age and living in Eythorne, met his death at Shepherdswell station after a fall. He had worked for the railway for 4 to 5 years and may have started work at Tilmanstone. As recounted by Mollis George Vaughan, of Lansdowne House, Shepherdswell, an engine driver, in the employ of the East Kent Railways Co., said: “The deceased was a stoker, and was, from time to time, with me. On Monday I was in the engine shed at 6.00am, and the deceased was already there. We were due to start 6.40. Owing to one of the engines being a little short of steam he was rather excited. He helped to pick up several trucks. That was about ten minutes to seven. He had uncoupled two trucks, and then turned the points for a passenger train that was approaching from Eythorne. That was to prevent the locking gear from being damaged. He then came back and fell between my engine and two trucks, which were all stationary on a loop line, falling over the second rail of the road. He picked himself up, but not picking himself up altogether, staggered some steps, and he then fell over the further rail of the passenger road and lay across it on his chest. This second fall seemed rather a heavy one”. Dr. Bellamy said at the inquest: “I was called at about 8.00 o’clock by telephone to see a man who had fallen down in what was thought to be a fit. I got there at 8.20, and found him lying in a field. He was suffering from syncope (had passed out), his heart failing. He was quite conscious, and complained of pain in his chest and of lying cold. I ordered his removal to his house. When I got home, I was called again to him between 9.00 and 9.30. He had then just died. I have made a post mortem examination of the body. There was an old operation scar behind the right ear. Internally, the only defect was the liver, which was which was very extensively lacerated, the right lobe wing torn to shreds, and the abdominal cavity being full of blood. There were no other signs of disease, past or present, in any of the organs of the body. The cause of death was syncope (in this instance passing out through loss of blood to the brain), from internal haemorrhage. The condition of the liver was due external violence, as falling on some object. It could have been caused falling on a rail”. In reply to Mr. Springgay, (Mr. H. M. Springgay, of 12, Belgrave Rd., Dover, Superintendent of the Passenger Traffic and Goods Working Departments of East Kent Railways), Dr. Bellamy said that he did not think that the fall was due to giddiness. During the inquest (at the White Horse Inn, Eythorne) it came to light that the stoker had an untreated abscess “at the back of the ear, which was dangerously near the brain”, and was apparently why he had been turned down by the army. One wonders if this may have affected his balance on this occasion. The jury returned a verdict of death from accidental causes.
On Monday 17th November 1919, “a largely attended meeting of ladies and gentlemen was held in the schoolroom on to decide the provision of a war memorial in the village. Dr. Bellamy presided. Several useful suggestions were considered, and the meeting generally approved of a wayside cross or cenotaph to be erected in the centre of the village. The Rev. B. Burrows, Mr. Grossmith, Mr. J. Wroe, Mr. Church and Mr. W. Wyborn were appointed as committee to ascertain the cost and to obtain a site, and to report their investigations to later meeting. The meeting closed with vote thanks to the chairman”. Eythorne War Memorial was finally unveiled on 4th July 1920 by Captain FP Barlow MC, at a well-attended ceremony led by Dr. Bellamy and the Rector, Rev. Basil Burrows. A sum of £88 10s had been raised by subscription and fundraising events in the village to pay for the memorial, which was made by C Ashdown of Dover.
In July 1924 (Friday 4th reported) Josiah West and Harriett West, of Womenswould, were charged with wilfully and unlawfully neglecting their six children, Annie, aged 14, Dorothy, aged 12, Josiah, aged 10, Bessie, aged 8, Herbert, aged 5, and Joan, aged 7 months. Defendants pleaded not guilty. Mr. A. K. Mowll prosecuted on behalf of the NSPCC. The evidence of Inspector Ward, NSPCC, corroborated by Dr. Bellamy, was that the children were verminous, flea bitten, scantily clad and poorly shod, and looked thin and underfed, with the with the exception of the baby. The cottage was a filthy condition. The Inspector said that the mother said she had only £1 a week, but the husbands wage was £1 10s. 3d. The female defendant said that the sheets were on the line and other articles of bed clothing were the copper boiling. She offered show them to Dr. Bellamy, but he said it did not matter. The Inspector, recalled that when he visited the male defendant at Swanton gravel pit, he said did not know the state of the premises upstairs, as he had never been upstairs since the baby was born, seven months before. The female defendant gave evidence and said that, the children at school were visited once a fortnight or three weeks by nurse and they had given good reports of the condition of the children’s heads and clothing. In reply to Mr. Mowll, defendant said she owed eight months’ rent and nearly £6 to the baker. Defendants were bound over for 12 months and put under the supervision of the officer. They must get the premises and the children clean otherwise they would be summoned again.
In his career Dr. Bellamy attended many road accidents involving both bicycles and cars and at mid-day on Wednesday 23rd December 1925, Dr. Bellamy himself was involved in a car crash. The collision occurred at the Eythorne turning on the Sandwich Road and was between a car driven by Mr. R J Hulburd, 5, Clarence Lawn, Dover, district manager of the Anglo-American Oil Company, who was going towards Sandwich, and a car driven Dr. Bellamy who was turning from the Eythorne Road to towards Dover. Fortunately, neither driver was hurt, but Mr. Hulburd’s car was driven on to the opposite bank of the road and the axle broken. Considerable damage also being done to the front both cars. Dr. Bellamy’s car was removed by the Dover Autocar Company; and Mr. Hulburd’s car by Messrs Seymour and Co, of London Rd.
Dr. Bellamy attended another serious accident on the East Kent Railway on the morning of Friday 24th May 1929. George Rogers aged 62, a married man living at Tilmanstone employed by the railway company as a foreman platelayer, was crossing the line about 7.00 am when he was knocked down by the mineral train and the engine and 21 trucks passed over his left leg, his body being in the four-foot way. His leg was practically severed below the knee and, after the damaged portion had been cut away by Dr. Bellamy, he was removed to Dover Hospital in the Tilmanstone Colliery ambulance. His leg was amputated and he was reported to be going on satisfactorily.
Although Dr Bellamy was well known at the collieries and to the miners and their families and had a good relationship with them generally, they were not always appreciative. On Monday, 8th July 1929, “Bert Scott, a sinker at Tilmanstone Colliery, was charged with breaking the study window of the residence of Dr. Bellamy, of West End House, Eythorne, on Sunday. Ethel Baker, a domestic servant in Dr. Bellamy’s employ, said that on Sunday afternoon the defendant came to the house and asked if the doctor was in. On being told he was out, he asked whether it where possible to get hold of him. He also asked witness to send for the police sergeant. She said that she would do what she could, and was shutting the door when the defendant picked the foot scraper and hurled it through the study window, breaking four panes of glass and doing damage to the extent of 40s”. Scott, who pleaded guilty, said that was such pain at the time he did not know what he was doing. He was fined 10s with and 40s. costs.
A “very curious but nevertheless alarming accident” occurred at Shepherdswell on Wednesday 7th August 1919 evening at about 7.30, as a result of which a 14-year-old boy, named Lindsey Mellowes, ended up in Dover Hospital suffering from severe burns on the chest, hands and arms, and the Rev. E C Robinson, Vicar of Shepherdswell, ended up being confined to bed with severe burns to the hands. It appears that boy, who resides at Church Hill Villa, had cycled to Dover and back, and while at Dover had picked what apparently turned out to a piece of phosphorous, on the beach. He put into the breast pocket of his shirt and cycled home. Immediately he arrived home he went into the Vicarage Yard and was talking to the Vicar when the front of his clothing burst into flames. The Vicar, with great promptitude, attempted to put out the flames and eventually had to tear the blazing clothes off the boy. Dr. Bellamy, of Eythorne, was sent for, and he ordered the boy’s removal to the Dover Hospital, while he dressed Mr. Robinson’s burns. The Vicar is reported to as well as can be expected, but in Mellowes’ case, his condition is still serious”. Phosphorous is stable to water but reacts violently with oxidants, metals and many other compounds and presumably either the boys clothing or something in a pocket reacted.
On the morning of Thursday 19th August 1929, the “first accident in connection with live overhead wires that connected Betteshanger and Snowdown Collieries occurred. It was reported that “these wires convey current at high volts pressure, which is so powerful that the slightest touch is supposed to cause instantaneous death”. On the morning in question, Leslie Heath, a school boy of Elvington, over which village the wires pass, was flying his kite rear the wires. His mother had given him some wire to tie to the kite instead of string and this became entangled in the overhead wires. “It was so thin that it instantly fused and apparently only a very slight current was transmitted to the boy, whose hands and heels were burnt. Dr. Bellamy treated him. The boy had narrowest escape from death, and it could have been only the fact that the wire fused at once that saved him”.
It was not only medical cases that took up Gerald Bellamy’s time. He was a member of the parish council from 1915-1928 and its Chairman from 1918-1921. In August 1919 he was reported to be the judge of the baby show that was part of festivities organised by Eythorne Chapel (the winner was a “Wilfred Oates)”. He was also a keen and talented amateur painter who exhibited at East Kent Art Society exhibitions over a period of twenty years. He was also a Doctor for the Eastry Union (Workhouse). The Union continued to be run by the Guardians until 1st April 1930 when its responsibilities were transferred under the Local Government Act of 1929 to Kent County Council.

Vince Croud

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