Wednesday, 17 August 2016

John Alderson MD

Outside Hull Royal Infirmary on its ashlar pedestal stands this statue of John Alderson MD. And why would such a thing be here I ask myself and after a few minutes on the good ship Google I find that the said Mr Alderson was a very successful physician in Hull in the late 18th and early 19th century indeed he did so well out of his practice that when he was elected Chief Physician at the newly opened Hull Royal Infirmary he gave his services for free. He vaccinated many of poor people of Hull. But that alone wouldn't get a statue. Oh no there's more, much more. He was consultant physician for the Hull Lying-in Charity which provided linen and food for poor reputable married women during pregnancy.  In 1814 he set up a refuge for the insane where it was said “every attempt consistent with humanity will be made to restore the patient”. And then he worked towards the provision of education, was president of the subscription library and the Literary and Philosophical Society. Feeling at a lose end he set up the Hull Mechanics' Institute in 1825. During all this he gave many lectures and wrote several publications. Finally he started the Hull School of Medicine in Kingston Square but died before that was completed. I suppose there's a limit to what one man can do in a lifetime. It is said the fifteen thousand people lined the streets of Hull for his funeral in 1829 ... 
This statue was paid for by public subscription and stood originally outside the Hull Royal Infirmary on Prospect Street before being moved to the Anlaby Road site. Until the smoking ban was enforced more rigorously on the hospital site tobacco fiends (many were patients in pyjamas and dressing gowns with accompanying drip stands, oh it was such a fine sight to see!) would gather around this statue and offer their smoky votive offerings to this remarkable man. At least I'd like to think they did, but most probably they (like me) hadn't the slightest idea who he was.


  1. Sounds like he deserved it, and led a very busy life.

  2. Google is your friend, and now it's Alderson's as well. People like him should be more famous than people like, oh, I don't know, Elvis, for example.