The legendary skills of Dr Robertson
Warning, graphic imagery
Here is an excerpt from the book, ‘Wor Tomis The Polis’ which refers to revered Amble GP, Dr Robertson, whose dedication and skills are still remembered and indeed missed by many locals.
Dr Robertson practised in Amble from 1946 to 1976 and was our family doctor up until we left the area in about 1963.
He sometimes had breathing difficulties himself and often was in a worse condition than the patients he attended but he was never known to miss a call, even if he was a little grumpy perhaps because of his well-being on occasions.
However, we all respected him and accepted his character, knowing Amble was lucky to have him. He was on call 24/7 and if needed urgently you called at his home/surgery out of hours in Oswald St. To my knowledge no one ever left untreated irrespective of the hour. His work took him down the pit and to sea on the Amble lifeboat. He was a great doctor to have. I believe he had been an officer Dr/Surgeon in WW2.
In 1958, when I was about nine, I vividly remember an occasion when he saved the day. My brother Ray worked at Hauxley pit. I remember that my mother and I were at Ronnie Jones grocery van when Mr Coxford from 53 Links Ave. approached us. He was blackened with coal dust and had come straight from the pit. He handed my Mam one wellington (a shock in itself) and said Ray had been hurt at the pit and would be brought home in some sort of improvised transport very soon. Ray had been on bank (the pit surface) and was crossing a track when a run-away tub had smashed into him and severely crushed his inner thigh.
Poor Ray who was about 18 or 19 was brought home. He was semi-conscious and shaking uncontrollably. He was laid out on the floor in front of the open coal fire in the front room. The fire was stoked up and beds were quickly raided and the covers were piled up high on top of him. I remember peeping through the gap between the door frame and the door and seeing Dr Robertson set to, cutting large pieces of flesh from the injury as he carried out quite major surgery. The bruised and damaged flesh was put into a bowl and disposed of, on the other open fire in the kitchen.
I considered whether or not to give that last detail but it is true and was the best way of disposal available. I also feel that it also gives a true account of pit village life and how the emergency treatment was dealt with when hospital transport was not so readily available in 1958.
The leg was saved, without any after-effects barring a very large scar. Ray and our family were always grateful to Dr Robertson and his skills, undoubtedly saving my big brother’s leg, in a make-shift operating theatre, on the floor in front of the fire, in our front room.
Dr Robertson used asthma inhalers himself. He first prescribed them for me in about 1961. I used them for about 25 years until I stopped using them and now I do not suffer from any asthma problems. He rightly predicted all those years ago that I could eventually grow out of it but it did take longer than anyone anticipated.
It is well reported that his pet hate was Lucozade and every time he spotted it, he would say something like, “Have you got money to throw away on that stuff? Tizer is considerably cheaper and will do the same job.”
Tom Curry’s book can be obtained direct from him via. email, firstname.lastname@example.org and is priced at £9.99p or is stocked at Lumiere Pod 5, Amble Harbour and N&F Young’s, Queen St.