Medical Practice in Peebles
1900 - 1920
AT THE BEGINNING of this period, medical practice was in what might be called a more or less static state. Few drug treatments were really effective and the family doctor was limited in what he could do for his patients. In those days the doctor did much more home visiting than is the custom now and he was dependent on his horse and trap for country calls and on his bicycle for visits nearer his surgery. The first motor vehicle I remember my father possessing was a 2.75-horsepower Douglas motorcycle. This he acquired in 1913 and it served him well for seven years. He must have had many a difficult journey - the Peebles folk gave it the name of the 'Glencorse Express' after Glencorse House in the Northgate where we lived.
The outstanding event of this twenty-year period was the First World War. During most of it Dr Gunn and my father were the only doctors in Peebles, the other two doctors, Dr Bremner and Dr Marshall, being on military service. This involved the doctors in extra duties. Venlaw House, the residence at that time of Lady Erskine, whose late husband had been an admiral in the Royal Navy, was used as a hospital for military personnel and it was supervised by Dr Gunn. Two houses on Tweed Green which had, prior to the war, previously been used as a nursing home, were taken over by the Red Cross and used as a hospital for soldiers requiring medical care. These patients were under the care of my father. None of these patients were, of course, acute war casualties but it did mean an extra workload on two already very busy doctors.
Just at the end of the war Peebles was struck, like everywhere else, by the pandemic of influenza. This must have been a terrible experience for the whole community, for there were something like forty deaths in the space of two months, and, in some cases, death