Film footage

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A film of Queen Square staff in 1933

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Record information

Title: A film of Queen Square staff in 1933

Reference: QSA/19610

Date: Approx 1 Jan to 31 Dec 1933

Description: Five minute silent film footage focusing on individual staff members working at the National Hospital in 1933, many of whom are now household names in the history of neurology. There are also brief glimpses of the external appearances and façade of Queen Square in 1933 where the buildings themselves appear largely unchanged.

Creator: John “Jock” Caughey’s copy of Square video filmed by E. Graeme Robertson. Captionsby Professor Andrew Lees with the assistance of Dr Nadeem Toodayan

Storage Reference: Online only

Acquisition: A gift to the archives from Professor Andrew Lees; A gift to the archives from Professor Andrew Lees; original unedited film donated by Dr Neil Anderson in 2012; Neil received the DVD in August 2011 from Jock Caughey’s daughter Patricia Peterson.

Notes:

For a ninety-year-old film, Graeme Robertson’s 1933 video is remarkably well preserved. Apart from some expected film grain and minimal frame rate effect, the images are surprisingly clear so that all figures are authentically captured and independent targets are well made out. The bulk of the video focuses on individual staff members working at the National Hospital in 1933, many of whom are now household names in the history of neurology (see Cast Listing)

The video shows them as they appeared in their prime, capturing each individual’s countenance, mannerisms, gait, and attitudes to being filmed. Almost all staff are wearing three-piece suits with additional overcoats and top hats outdoors. A number of them use white doctor’s coats, mostly when filmed in clinical settings. We get brief glimpses of the external appearances and façade of Queen Square in 1933 where the buildings themselves appear largely unchanged. Unlit gas lamps line the streets, as well as a variety of early motor cars – including Julian Taylor’s (1889-1961) Rolls Royce and Gordon Holmes’ Armstrong Siddeley. Early folding cameras are briefly shown being used in the film, as well as a monocular microscope. But it is the personalities presented that really makes the video worth watching.

After graduating in medicine at Melbourne University in 1927 and completing a further three years of postgraduate work at the Melbourne Hospital, Graeme Robertson came to London in 1930 with glowing references for further training at the spiritual heartland of English neurology – The National Hospital in Queen Square (Robertson, 2023, pp. 6-12). He soon became the first ever Australian to be appointed to a full-time three-year House Physician post there, beginning clinical duties in 1931. Graeme Robertson worked for Gordon Morgan Holmes (1876-1965) and was further taught neurology by Samuel Alexander Kinnier Wilson (1878-1937), Joseph Godwin Greenfield (1884-1958), and fellow Australian William John Adie (1886-1935). He befriended the New Zealand born Derek Denny-Brown (1901-1981), with whom he conducted important research into the physiology of micturition and defecation, and became a very close friend to Denis Hubert Brinton (1902-1986) and his wife Joan Violet Brinton (1905-1971). Graeme met his own future wife in London, Mildred Jane Duce (1901-1971), then a theatre nurse at Queen Square Graeme Robertson’s love for photography led him to acquire a 16mm black-and-white analogue cinema film camera in London in the early 1930s (Robertson, 2023, p. 143). It might have been a Ciné-Kodak model, the first protype of which had been introduced in June of 1923 as an affordable alternative to other more professional 35mm cameras then on the market (Kerr, 2017, 2019). Towards the end of his time at Queen Square in 1933, Graeme put his camera to good use taking a series of short motion picture films of his friends, colleagues, and teachers at the National Hospital. Altogether some six-and-a-half minutes of footage was recorded.

• Robertson, Denis G. (2023) E. Graeme Robertson: Physician, Photographer, Preserver. Victoria: Tellwell Talent.

Keywords: Adie William John, Albany Wing, Albany Wing including Hospital Frontage, Brinton Denis Hubert, Buildings and Places, Cairns Hugh WB, Carmichael Edward Arnold, Collier James Stansfield, Consultants, Critchley Macdonald, Cumings John N, Denny-Brown Derek Ernest, Elkington John St Clair, Grainger Stewart Thomas, Greenfield Joseph Godwin, Hinds Howell Conrad Meredith, Hinds-Howell Conrad Meredith, Holmes Sir Gordon Morgan, Individuals, Kinnier Wilson Samuel Alexander, Meadows Swithin Pinder, Mennell Z, Pennybacker Joseph Burford, People, Queen Square, Riddoch George, Sources, Symonds Sir Charles Putnam, Taylor James, Turner William Aldren, Video and Film, Walshe Sir Francis Martin Rouse

Compilations: Film footage

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