A unique book which celebrates the history and medical achievements of a well-known Kidderminster medical family has been launched.
Dr Stretton I Presume! – The Battle for Kidderminster’s Health 1856-1952, a new book which gives a portrayal of Kidderminster’s social history and documents the medical triumphs achieved by three generations of the town’s respected Stretton family, was unveiled at Kidderminster Town Hall.
The book, by historian Nigel Gilbert, chronicles the mid-Victorian social history of Kidderminster through the eyes of three generations of the Stretton family – a trio of highly-sought after surgeons who were the driving force behind the founding of Kidderminster Hospital. Together they served the hospital, originally the infirmary on Mill Street which opened in 1871, for 95 years.
The 152-page paperback contains historical local photographs and maps and has been produced following the 2010 death of lifelong Wyre Forest man Antony Stretton. It honours the lives of his father John, grandfather Lionel and great-grandfather Samuel Stretton who all dominated medical life in the town between 1856 and 1952.
Among a host of other senior roles, the trio all held the position of ‘honourary surgeon’ in Kidderminster with Samuel working alongside the founder of modern nursing Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War. Grandfather Lionel was also responsible for discovering a now standard world-wide medical procedure when in the early 1900s he found that mixing iodine with water sterilised the skin which allowed medical procedures to take place.
Antony, who was disabled after a stroke when he was age nine, did not follow his father into medicine but went on to become a successful businessman with plant nurseries spread across the district.
Nephew Chris Stretton who was at the launch said: “The impact generations of my family have made in Kidderminster and the medical world really is phenomenal. The launch of the book has highlighted the contribution they made, sometimes in the face of adversity, over so many years. As a family we’re proud to have a big part of our history interlinked with the town’s growth. ”
Jim Quinn, consultant solicitor at Kidderminster law firm MFG Solicitors who is acting as executor following the death of Mr Stretton, added: “It became very clear following the sad passing of Anthony Stretton and at the reading of his will, how captivating a story the family are able to tell about their lives and Kidderminster during Victorian and Edwardian times.
“The new book gives a fantastic insight into the personal and professional lives of an intriguing Wyre Forest family and how generations of the Stretton family for almost a century not only supported the local economy and helped establish Kidderminster Hospital, but set high global standards with their medical advances and commitment.”
Mr Quinn, who has played a key role in the publishing of the book, added: “To have a book which finally chronicles the Stretton family’s achievements really is something special and everyone has been hugely impressed with the attention to detail. It is a compelling read full of memories for people across the Wyre Forest. We are most grateful to Nigel Gilbert for putting the mass of information together so well.”
The Kidderminster launch event was attended by over 70 people and included former Kidderminster MP and GP, Dr Richard Taylor.
As part of Antony Stretton’s will a specially-commissioned stain glass window is also to be installed at Kidderminster’s St John’s Church Blakebrook next year and a charity is being set up to help support medical students training to become surgeons.