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Barry MacKay 2015
Dr Thomas Arthur Ball Harris (1867–1942)

"The Laburnams" (Washpit Farm) High Street when part of the
Mason's Garage site. Previously it was the home and location of
Dr. T.A.B. Harris's surgery c1905 to c1917 and is now part of
the Sainsbury's supermarket site.

Born at Bothamsall, Nottinghamshire, Dr Harris’s qualifications to practise medicine appear in a GMC Medical Register entry of 3 Nov 1900 as follows: LRCP Edin 1900; LRCS Edin 1900; LFP&S Glasg 1900. He married London-born (1876) Amy Julia Wallis at West Ham in 1902. He is shown in Kelly’s Directory 1903 as Assistant Surgeon to William Mackenzie LRCP&S Edin., LFPS Glas. of Aberlour House, Raunds, but he was in post as the first of the established Burton Latimer resident doctors by Sep 1905, based at “The Laburnums”, Washpit Farm, High Street, which was leased from the Harpur family. [Strictly speaking Dr H.N.C. Atkinson from London was the first to take up residence in Burton Latimer, this by by 1898 as a single man. In 1901 he was living in Church Road/Street. He eventually settled in Leicestershire after getting married in London in 1903] Kelly's Directory 1906 records that Dr Harris was surgeon at Burton Latimer also caring for patients at Finedon ("attends Mon Wed & Fri at 2pm"). A significant number of Burton Latimer residents supported Dr. Harris’s claim to fill the new post of Medical Officer of No. 3 (Burton Latimer) District that year, but the Kettering Union Guardians preferred Dr Herbert Burland, whose tenure as District Medical Officer between 1906 and 1909 was to prove a constant source of controversy. Support for Dr Harris was based upon the fact that he lived in the village whereas Dr Burland was a resident of Finedon, not within the Kettering Union, and that under a life-appointment which he held Dr Burland was primarily responsible to the Wellingborough Guardians. In Jan 1909, Dr Burland finally bowed out as District Medical Officer, to be replaced the following month by Dr Harris. [For further details of this episode: click here ] His 1914 Kelly’s Directory entry records that at Burton Latimer Dr Harris was “surgeon & medical officer & public vaccinator” for Kettering No. 3 District, also certifying factory surgeon, “The Laburnums”; and that at Finedon he attended surgeries "mon, wed & frid at 2pm Well street." In mid-1915, he tendered his resignation as Medical Officer of Burton Latimer District, having accepted service in the Army. Presumably he was engaged locally by the military, for an entry in the London Gazette records that as factory certifying surgeon for the Burton Latimer District since 26 Feb 1913, it was not until 23 Aug 1917 that Dr Harris relinquished that office. By 1919, the GMC Medical Register had a Fulham, London SW6 address for him. Dr Harris’s final days are believed to have been spent at Chatham in Kent. It was upon Dr Harris’s recommendation that his partner, Irishman Dr E.C. Byrne, took over as Medical Officer of Burton Latimer District (the latter’s 1920 Kelly's Directory entry shows him as “surgeon & medical officer & public vaccinator Kettering No. 3 District”). Dr Byrne was also appointed factory certifying surgeon for the District on 5 Oct 1917.

See also: BLHS Newsletters - Sep & Dec 2012 and BLHS website: Health Services; Memories of a Villager and Washpit Farm (to be updated)

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