Horace Thomson’s first job

While training to become a medical doctor in Aberdeen, Horace was involved in war work. This was in 1942 when he was 21 years of age. He worked on Corvettes. Their job was to protect the Atlantic Convoys. The corvette was a type of gunship and they were being built in Aberdeen at that time. His job was to go into the bowels of the ship to cover the steam lines. Got asbestos is as asbestos was used to lag the pipes.

He married while still in training at the age of 21 to Mabel, a student of Domestic Science. In the city during the war were communal eating houses. There were in other parts of the country as well. They allowed working mothers and their families to eat together. Mabel worked in Robert Gordon School as they had can teen as well.

Woodend_Hospital Aberdeen

He qualified in 1944 and his first medical job was dealing with the wounded at Wood End Municipal Hospital, Aberdeen. They were pre-assessed there before going on to specific centres to serve their specific needs i.e. eye, limbs etc… The hospital specialised in sorting out the wounded and sending them to certain wards. There was assessment and treatment there. Horace was a house officer with two wards under his control. One was a V.D. ward and the other was a gastrointestinal ward. During the war catching V.D. was a way of not serving in the armed forces so some people tried to catch it on purpose. One symptom was no night vision and one chap went out for a bit of fresh air and he fell flat on his face outside.

Photo of newspaper headlines about polio vaccine tests Salk_headlines_Polio

Penicillin started to appear later on in the war for the treatment of some of the diseases. Prior to this one treatment was to raise someone’s core body temperature by putting them in a human oven. The size was similar to a modern MRI scanner.

Tuberculosis (TB) was very common and all types of people got it. Horace had thought about going to Canada in the 1940s but Canada was riddled with poliomyelitis (polio) and by then he had a young family and he didn’t want them to catch it. There was no vaccine at that time. The hospital wards were full of polio patients. the vaccine was eventually licensed for public use in 1962.

Florence Nightingale letterHis grandfather GeorgeThomson had worked for the Royal Chemist Messers Squires in London and he had filled prescriptions for a variety of clients including Florence Nightingale. Horace has a transcript of letter she sent requesting lotions etc… and for them to sent on to her by passenger train to Clayton House in Buckinghamshire. He left London and started the Chemist Shop in Elgin. One of the products he created was Thomson’s Cod liver oil cream. It was said to be used by Royalty. The address on the letter is Sir Harry Verney Bart, Clayton House, Bucks because Sir Harry had married Florence’s sister Frances Parthenope Nightingale in 1958.

Thomson's cod liver oil cream advert from the Northern Scot Christmas Post 1905

Thomson’s cod liver oil cream advert from the Northern Scot Christmas Post 1905

Although it was before the NHS Horace remembers being paid as a doctor with a salary and not having to bill individual people. His father died at the early age of 45 after following a 200 Capstan cigarettes a day smoking habit. Horace was called back to Elgin to run the family Chemist business which included Thomson’s cod liver oil cream. At that time a qualified medical doctor could run have a chemist business. Horace had to stop practising as a doctor for ten years and move his family to Elgin. Horace went back to being a medical officer in the 1950s associated with the local authority. He took a diploma in public health. He had to keep the health statistics for Banffshire County Council and run baby clinics dealing with vaccinations. he also organised nurses to do public health. He then went to be a Medical officer and Health Education Lecturer at Aberdeen where he worked in close co-operation with the gynacological department.

Memory contributed by Horace Thomson from Elgin

Additional links

Thomson’s Cod Liver Oil , Elgin

The factory was based in Abbey Street, It was halfway down on the right-hand side and set back.  Have a look at this link on Google Maps. Can you remember where the factory was? 

The Factory business emulsified the oil to make a cream which was taken by mouth on a spoon.
cod liver oil spoon- link to site with more information about the spoonPorcelain spoon to serve the cod liver oil cream- click here for more information on the spoon. –picture

Information on the Polio vaccine. Licensed in 1962.

Florence Nightingale -more information

http://www.victorianweb.org/history/crimea/florrie.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/nightingale_florence.shtml

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/REnightingale.htm

Horace regularly uses his computer to Skype his wider family who live in South Africa, Australia and Canada.

Elgin Golf Club
Horace was involved closely in the beginnings of the Elgin Golf Club. His father George Rutherford Thomson had also loved the game and Horace gave a trophy to the club in his father’s memory in 1949. He is still involved with the club.

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2 thoughts on “Horace Thomson’s first job

  1. As a child (about 60 years ago) I lived next door to the cod liver oil factory and was allowed inside now and again to see the cream being made and bottled. I also knew the family when they lived in Seafield street.

  2. In the late 50s and early 60s I once or twice visited Uncle Horace’s mum, Scotland Granny as we called her, who lived in Seafield Street. I remember going inside the Cod Liver Oil factory and would probably have met Uncle Horace although it seems he may have returned to medical practice by then. In the summer of 2011 my wife Fiona and I attended his 90th birthday party in Elgin. While there I said to Fiona lets see if we can find the factory. I knew that if I could find Seafield Street I’d remember the way to the factory which had to be “up the street”. After searching a bit by chance we ended up walking down Abbey Street. Little did we know that we were in for a surprise. We saw a women standing in her doorway and I went over and asked if she knew where Thomson’s Cod Liver Oil factory used to be. She said we were just two doors away from it. And there is was – a wooden building painted green – set back about 50 m from the road. The woman had lived in that street since the early 50s and might have seen me as I walked up to the factory. Returning to Horace, at his 90th birthday party I met my three cousins, possibly for the first time as I don’t remember meeting them when I used to visit Granny 50 years ago!

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