A Little Early History of the British Neuropathological Society

The installation of the National Health Service in 1948 and the setting up of Neurosurgical departments in various centres created the demand for Neuropathologists to ensure the correct diagnosis of cerebral tumours and assist in similar problems faced by the neurosurgeon in which the general pathologist often has little experience and can be of limited assistance. The special training of these individuals fell largely to Dr Godwin Greenfield who had long been doyen of British Neuropathology from his work at the National Hospitals, Queen Square, and then to Dr Dorothy Russell at the London Hospital. In 1950 Dr Greenfield and his colleagues had the idea that it would be generally useful if they had a means of gathering together regularly to discuss their professional problems.

To answer this need the Neuropathology Club was thus created in December 1950 having the object “to further the study of Neuropathology and to promote contact between workers in the field”. There were 27 members initially, the senior members being those who already possessed considerable experience in the field such as A.Meyer (Maudsley), R.M.Norman (Bristol), J.H.Biggart (Belfast) A.C.P.Campbell (Manchester) who was elected the first Vice-President, Dorothy Russell, and Dr J.G. Greenfield who was elected the first President. The other members where those who had either trained with Dr Greenfield, had been associated with him in his publications or who were engaged in various aspects of research and diagnostic work in relation to brain disease, such as E Weston Hurst, who had made many contributions to viral encephalitis in various parts of the world, Ruby Stern, a former colleague of Greenfield’s at Queen Square, and Turner McLardy who had worked with Alfred Meyer on the anatomical lesions produced by prefrontal leucotomy.

The second meeting of the Neuropathology club in 1952

Dr J. Godwin Greenfield with Dr Milton Shy

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The numbers steadily grew as the subject prospered and its importance became more generally appreciated so that by 1957 there were some 35 ordinary members. In 1962 the numbers had increased to more than 65 and they had been joined now by many colleagues from other parts of Europe who had become members since they had no similar association in their own countries. The membership thus became sufficiently large for there to be a general feeling that it should become more formal and transform to a Society.

As one witty member has put it “some were having difficulty in claiming expenses from their hospitals and universities for going to London to visit their Club”. “Moreover, somehow once you are a society an air of respectability creeps in and the quality of the papers read before the assembly grows so that becomes no longer acceptable to present a paper such as, for example,” a case of epilepsy with fits”! From that time the membership has continued to increase and now exceeds 250, drawing its members from many fields of both human and veterinary brain research as well as neuroscience, and now publishes a Journal that is becoming increasingly recognised as a valuable neuroscience contribution in the international scene.

Neuropathology Club (later BNS) founder members

List of founders(their locations at the time)
E. M. Pollak (Manchester)M. O. Skelton (Lewisham)M. C. Smith (Queen Square)
R. O. Stern (Queen Square)A. L. Woolf (Smethwick)A. Meyer (Maudsley Hosp.)
D. S. Russell (London Hospital)M. Dodgson (Fountains Hosp.)J. H. Biggart (Belfast)
W. Blackwood (Queen Square)D. Bosanquet (Oxford)J. Brierley (Maudsley Hosp.)
P. M. Daniel (Oxford)A. C. P .Campbell (Manchester)J. A. N. Corsellis (Runwell)
H. H. Fleischacker (Shenley)W. Forbes (Edinburgh) R. A. Goodbody (St George’s)
J. G. Greenfield (Queen Square)E. Weston Hurst (ICI)C. E. Lumsden (Maida Vale)
W. P. G. Mair (Queen Square)W. McMenemy (Maida Vale)A. J. Maloney (Edinburgh)
Turner McLardy (Maudsley Hosp.) R. M. Norman (Frenchay, Bristol)L. Phillips (Middlesbrough)

Estabishing the Neuropathology Club in the UK

A copy of the orginal letter from Greenfield to Dr Corsellis outlining his proposal to establish a neuropathology club.

View Letter

Original Byelaws of the Neuropathology Club in 1950s

List of venues for BNS meetings from 1950 to 2000

List of attendees at BNS meetings 1950 to 2000