Alt Ref NoRD
TitleX-Ray and Radiotherapy Department
DescriptionRecords of the Radiotherapy Department, previously the X-Ray Department, of St Bartholomew's Hospital, 1897-1995, comprising:

Reports and correspondence relating to the reorganisations of the department, including arrangements for the continuation of the service during both Wars and the relocation of the unit to more spacious accommodation, 1917-1961;

Material relating to equipment and appliances, 1933-1987, notably: colour photographs of irradiated needles, eye plaques and radon seeds which were used to treat patients with malignant diseases, [1960s-1980s]; photographs, papers and printed material relating to the design, construction and work of the Mozelle Sassoon X-Ray Therapy Department, 1933-1956; booklet and programme for the inauguration ceremony for the 15 MeV linear accelerator, 1955;

Papers relating to the treatment of patients, namely: medical case notes of 217 female patients suffering from breast cancer, with photographs and X-rays, 1928-1938; volume of notes of the radium treatments given to patients with naevi, with X-rays, 1950-1952; correspondence relating to radiotherapy services for private and external patients, 1937-1961; statistics of the number of X-rays taken, 1936; X-ray photograph of the first renal calculus found at St Bartholomew's Hospital, 1897;

Material, mostly correspondence, relating to staff appointments and salaries, 1924-[1935]; prospectuses and syllabi relating to the Diploma of the Society of Radiographers and St Bartholomew's School of Radiography, [1947-1950]; typescript lists of student radiographers, 1950-1956; three sample departmental student records, 1953-1958;

Correspondence relating to the purchase and supply of radium, 1939-1961; five registers recording the internal issue and return of radium, 1925-1995; completed radium returns, 1938-1940;

Rules and regulations for the preparation of patients and the use of equipment, 1928-1940;

Published articles and offprints on radiology and radiotherapy subjects, written by staff of the X-Ray/Radiotherapy Department, 1936-1965.
Related MaterialMaterial relating to the Electrical Department, see: SBHB/EC and SBHB/MR/23; records of the Cancer Department which developed from the original Radiotherapeutic Research Committee, see: SBHB/ON.
Patient register 1925-1946 see SBHB/MR/18/1
Records relating to diagnostic radiology, which was carried out in a number of departments originating from the Physics and X-Ray departments, are in several collections catalogued as SBHB/PY.
Administrative historyWilhelm Conrad Roentgen's paper "On a new kind of rays" (Über eine neue Art von Strahlen), in which he detailed his discovery of a type of electromagnetic radiation now known as X-rays, had only been published in December 1895, but by early March 1896 members of the St Bartholomew's Hospital Photographic Society were attending a demonstration in the Electrical Department of this exciting new diagnostic tool. In April 1896 the Hospital approved the purchase of electrical apparatus to power its new Roentgen ray equipment. The first X-ray plant was installed in a small room near the Henry VIII Gate under the charge of Hugh Walsham who had been appointed Assistant Medical Officer to the Electrical Department in 1896.

The X-Ray Department separated from the Electrical Department in 1912, with Walsham being appointed as head. X-ray and radium therapies had been introduced into clinical practice elsewhere as treatments to destroy malignant tumours, however at that time the work of the department was still mainly diagnostic as the small amount of radium which the Hospital possessed was inadequate for radiotherapeutic use. When Neville Samuel Finzi joined the department as its Chief Assistant in the spring of 1913 he donated his own radium stock and began treating cases of malignant disease in the Ear, Nose and Throat and Gynaecological Departments.

After the end of the First World War and following the retirement of Walsham, Finzi was appointed head of the X-Ray Department. His work with heavily filtered gamma rays from radium suggested to him that shorter wave-length rays given in doses that destroyed malignant cells had a less harmful effect on surrounding tissues and therefore proved more efficient than X-rays. However as the X-ray equipment increased in energy it was found that clinical results improved.

In 1921 Finzi and other members of the Hospital staff visited Erlangen to investigate the claims being made regarding the efficacy of Deep X-Ray Therapy operating at 200KV in the treatment of malignant disease and were suitably convinced to recommend that it should be adopted by Bart's. In 1924 a 200 KV Deep X-Ray Therapy apparatus was purchased, mainly from private subscriptions, which was installed on the fourth floor of the present Out-Patient's Block. It soon became apparent that better results were to be had at these higher voltages and Finzi, in his Mackenzie Davidson Lecture of 1933, urged the necessity of trying out still higher voltages.

It had been difficult to deliver an adequate dose to a deep-seated tumour without causing damage to the structures in front of it, to give the dose in a reasonably short time and also to avoid damage to the tissues in contact with the growth, because the difference in radio-sensitivity between the normal and the malignant cell was comparatively small. The higher the voltage at which the X-rays were produced meant that they had a far greater penetration, far higher intensity and a much shorter wave-length. Therefore larger doses could be given to treat deep-seated tumours in a shorter time, and as the energy in each quantum increased as the wave-length decreased, there would be less interference with normal tissues and a higher degree of selectivity for malignant tissues. Finzi's plea was successful and Mrs Meyer Sassoon donated £15,000 for the establishment of a 'Million Volt Department.'

Housed in a specially constructed building and using barium concrete to provide insulation against stray radiation, the Mozelle Sassoon High Voltage X-Ray Therapy Department was officially opened on 10 December 1936. The new equipment, built by Metropolitan Vickers was in use until 1962 and treated around 5,000 patients.

Finzi retired in 1946, and was succeeded by Ivor Glynn Williams, but research into the use of high voltage machines continued. On the recommendation of the Hospital's physicist Professor Frank Hopwood, a 15 MeV linear accelerator was constructed but a suitable site was not available so it was placed in the Medical School in 1955. The X-Ray Department was sub-divided into diagnostic radiology and radiotherapy., and a new Radiotherapy Department was built on the site of the Hospital's Dispensary which had been destroyed by enemy action in 1940. The Sassoon Department was transferred and this new department was opened in 1963 with the 15 MeV unit partnered with a further 6 MeV linear accelerator and a cobalt unit, the latter capable of fixed or rotation therapy, installed in its basement.
Access statusRestricted
Access ConditionsSome material is restricted. This is noted at file or item level in the catalogue.
Arrangement of the recordsThe original cataloguing arrangement was inconsistent and with the addition of material in 2009 the order was revised to create a more logical structure - which is given above.
Extent183 items
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