The Guildhall Surgery practice was established in 1902 by Dr Harold Stiff. He practised from No. 81, Guildhall Street. This is directly across the road from the Guildhall and had been a doctor’s residence since 1846. The surgery was housed in an annex next to the main house (see picture below).
The original doctor’s house with attached surgery. The Guildhall, on the opposite side of Guildhall Street, casts its shadow.
Dr Stiff also had surgical responsibilities at the old West Suffolk Hospital. While he was in France during the First World War, colleagues in the town looked after his patients.
In the early 1930’s, Dr Stiff was joined by Dr Wilfred Bromley who, shortly after, took over the practice. Dr Bromley found time in his very busy life to carry out pioneering work on the use of electrocardiograms in general practice. A very caring man, he was known to visit some elderly patients early in the morning and light a fire for them!
In 1950, Dr Bromley took Dr Roger Green into partnership with Dr David Tennant joining in 1953. The only staff employed in those days was Miss Alma Floyd who had worked for Dr Stiff since 1913 as dispenser, secretary and telephonist. Dr Bromley’s wife kept the accounts and the doctors’ wives manned the telephone outside surgery hours. Dr Green and Dr Tennant acted as Clinical Assistants at the West Suffolk Hospital, for many years, in the Obstetric and Orthopaedic departments, respectively.
Dr Colin Menzies-Kitchen joined the practice in the mid-1960’s and was, in addition, a Clinical Assistant in ENT at the West Suffolk Hospital. A very popular doctor, he died tragically in 1983, the year after the practice moved to its present premises, in Lower Baxter Street.
Dr Stephen Oliver became a partner in 1968 and was senior partner from 1986, when Dr Green retired, until his own retirement at the end of March 2006. During his career he was a prominent member of the Royal College of General Practitioners, a GP trainer and instrumental in the setting up the GP Training Scheme in Bury St. Edmunds.
Dr John Williamson, joined the practice in 1981, replacing Dr Tennant, and was a GP trainer for several years. He left the practice to emigrate to New Zealand in 1995 and is now working in Melbourne, Australia, for the Medical Defence Union.
On 1 April 2009, The Guildhall Surgery merged with Barrow Hill Surgery to become The Guildhall and Barrow Surgery. Dr Rod Cooledge had been in single handed practice in Barrow and joined the partners of The Guildhall Surgery to form the new partnership.
Dr Richard Robinson, who qualified in New Zealand, joined the practice in 1984 and retired at the end of June 2009.
Dr Heather Graham, who was the practice’s first woman partner, retired at the end of March 2010 after 28 years service with the practice. She was an approved GP Trainer and supervised the training of many of our GP Registrars over a considerable number of years.
Dr Cooledge (see above) retired from the partnership at the end of March 2011.
Dr Philip Evans, who had been a partner for 33 years and followed Dr Oliver as senior partner in 2006, retired from practice at the end of 2011. Dr Evans was a council member of the Royal College of General Practitioners from 1985. He had a particular interest in international family medicine development and during his career was an adviser to the World Health Organisation, chair of the International Committee of the RCGP and president of the World Organisation of Family Doctors, European Region.
The present partners complete the list of all the permanent doctors who have been members of the partnership.