Yorkleigh History

Yorkleigh, 93 St George’s Road, Cheltenham

About 1829 in Uley Gloucestershire a second child, a son, was born to George and Athalia Workman and christened Henry. Soon after his birth the family moved to the developing town of Cheltenham which was expanding following the discovery of mineral waters and the visit of George III. They settled in 244 High Street where in the 1851 census Henry is recorded as a coal merchant still living with his parents at the age of 22. By the end of the year he had married Mary Ann Birt of Gloucester and in the 1861 census was living with his wife and 3 children and a servant at 2 Townsend Place (Street today). His coal merchant business must have been very profitable as the first of the Yorkleigh deeds records negotiations with William Nash Skillicorne who was developing his Bayshill Estate. Yorkleigh must have been built soon after 1870 as indicated in the deeds by a builder William Williams so that in the 1881 census Henry Workman is in residence with his wife and younger children plus a servant. He continued as a coal merchant until his death in June 1884 and at probate his estate was valued at £10,667 16s. 5d.

His widow Mary Ann continued to live at Yorkleigh until 1899 when she sold to Rev. J Lewitt a retired Baptist Minister & his wife Mary but two years later the ownership passed to his wife alone. He was by then over 80 and in 1909 he died followed in 1912 by his widow.

The estate passed to executors.

They sold to Charles Ernest Champney in 1913. I am unable to find details of him or his business as the census for that period is not released. He was then aged 60 and only occupied Yorkleigh for 7 years as he died in 1920.

The estate passed to his widow Margeurita Lucy and was managed by her and trustees until 1933 when she died in the February of that year.

In 1934 her executors sold Yorkleigh to Dr C P Donnison thus beginning the house’s association with the medical profession but only as a domestic residence. The entry in the phone book of 1938 shows that he was a physician working from 11 Imperial Square which was still used by consultants in the 1970’s until the arrival of the Nuffield Hospital. Yorkleigh was entered in his wife’s name.

They remained at St Georges Road until 1953 when he must have retired and moved to 15 Charlton Park Gate having sold Yorkleigh to Dr E F Keating who qualified in Eire in 1939.

Edmund Keating had set up practice at Belroyd 96 St Georges Road. The earliest phone book record is in 1948 and by the 1954 edition he had moved over to 93 where I understand the surgery occupied the side wing and possibly the front room, now the office. Patients have told of the waiting area and office being in the wing and the doctor consulted in the front room. The rest of the house must have remained private.

Being Irish he attracted many of his countrymen and their families to the practice and many or their descendants are still with the practice today. He loved the horses and the racing and was not slow offering hospitality to selected countrymen at the end of a consultation. It is said that he returned to Eire following an incident regarding driving and alcohol. However he returned to Cheltenham regularly in March for the races as reported by his old patients.

In 1961 Yorkleigh was sold to Dr Cyril Ridley who had been in the town from at least 1958 when he is recorded in the phone book for that year at an address in Oakley Road. The books for 1959 & 1960 also record that address but in 1961 he is also entered at 93 St Georges Road which corresponds to the purchase from Dr Keating. He was a Cambridge man having qualified in 1955 and was listed in the latest searchable Medical Directory 1959 in Dorset, he must have moved to Cheltenham before its publication.

At the same time as Cyril Ridley’s move in 1961, Dr Terence McCaffry is listed at 93 St Georges Road under the same telephone number as Dr Ridley suggesting that he was taken on at that time. Terence was educated at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington and qualified earlier than his partner in 1947. In the 1959 Directory 12 years after qualification he is working in London but the speciality is not known. He did have an interest in ENT.

His qualifications MRCS, LRCP were final exams taken in the new year of one’s last undergraduate year and if there was a failure one knew that a lot of hard work was needed before the hospital finals. They enabled young doctors to start work and, as Terence probably did, not bother with finals. This system was still in operation in the mid 1960’s in London, is it still used?

I believe that when the two doctors took over Yorkleigh they extended the surgery into the whole of the ground floor. I know that Terence and his family lived in the upper floor as a flat, a remnant of which is seen in the photos of 1988 showing the boxed in stair. The phone records show that he remained there until 1968 when he moved to Greenhills Road where the entry is in his wife Anne’s name.

It was at this time that the telephone number changed from 53830 to 59049 which was likely to have been when the 1st floor flat was converted into surgeries creating more space for a third doctor. They decided to become trainers and join the embryonic GP training scheme, Dr Ridley being the appointed trainer.

Young doctors wishing to enter general practice today have a well planned training scheme giving required hospital specialities and time in general practice but in the mid 1960’s individuals had to find their own hospital training and finish with a year as a trainee GP.

Dr Muriel Mary Sutcliffe MB BS MRCOG was appointed as their first trainee. Muriel was born in July 1901 so was not the usual trainee having emigrated to Australia. (I have found a passenger list for a Miss Muriel Sutclife age 25 travelling to Sydney on 17th December 1926 which could be her). Whilst there she worked as an industrial chemist and at some stage retrained in medicine returning to the UK after the 1939-45 war to work for the local health authority in Derbyshire specialising in women’s health. It was after her retirement when most people would put their feet up that she took the trainee post. Her first entry in the telephone book was 1968.

After her trainee year she was taken on as a partner and other trainees followed until 1971 when Cyril Ridley became ill and in the November died of Hodgkin’s Disease at the age of 48.

This gave Terence a problem in that the partnership had also been running a branch surgery in Prestbury. I recently spoke to a patient who was born and lived on the Prestbury side of town and he remembers, having been born in 1949, attending in the front room of a house in Glebe Road, Prestbury. I was unaware of this branch so at some stage the branch was moved to a part of the building recently vacated by HSBC in Prestbury High Street. It must have been necessary to close that branch due to the reduced partnership as the practice also held branch surgeries in a health centre in Newton Road and there would have been insufficient cover for two branches.

Terence needed a new partner and following an interview I was offered a partnership which commenced in April 1972. I had qualified in 1967, worked in various hospital posts in Edinburgh before a trainee year in Newquay under the system outlined above. The agreement was that I should do equal out of hours duty of two week nights and alternate weekends with him whilst Muriel Sutcliffe would cover Wednesdays and Saturday mornings . Surgery ran from 9am to 10.45am following which we would meet and sign repeat scripts and allocate visits which were usually completed by lunch which allowed a break at home until evening surgery at 5pm until 6.45pm. The surgery closed at 7pm and the phone was switched to the home of the duty doctor where our wives acted as receptionist and took calls. There were no mobile phones and we had to wait until returning home to receive further messages. I do not know how Muriel managed, perhaps she had an answer machine.

Terence had two sessions as Clinical Assistant in ENT attending out patients and he was keen that I should gain some outside income and introduced me to the new young Eye Consultant Tim Hart and as a result I commenced two sessions per week in the outpatient department which continued until seven years after retiring from Yorkleigh. Terence also held the position of Police Surgeon which he shared with a single handed GP Dr A P Curtin so that the police would share the calls alternately. Muriel and I were only involved if Terence was away.

By 1973 Terence had moved out of town to Upper Coberley and it was whilst returning from a police call in November that he ran under the tail of an unlit stationary lorry not far from home and was killed instantly. The police called Muriel who contacted me and we managed to get through the morning surgery somehow. I was asked to go to identify the body as the police did not wish to involve Anne or Muriel because of the extensive injuries.

Later that day I was taken on one side by the main receptionist, we only had two, and told to take control as Muriel would be retiring and I had my whole career and family to consider. I therefore became senior partner and to begin with took on the bulk of Terence’s duties which meant an extra night and each weekend, Muriel taking the remaining night. Eventually we managed to employ a locum whilst advertising and interviewing for a partner. We wanted to find someone to fill the age gap and bring experience and stability to the practice which had lost two senior doctors. We were very pleased to appoint Lt.Col G W Peacock who wished to leave army administration and return to patient contact. Bob, as he was known, joined us in July 1974 and so began 20 years partnership.

Muriel, who had planned retirement after I had settled in waited for Bob to do so and about 1976 she retired and was replaced by Simon McMinn who had been on a short service commission in the RAF. Muriel could not hang up her stethoscope as she continued to locum for our holidays and study leave so that many patients did not realise that she had retired.

There was within the building scope for further development as there were four rooms upstairs, two used as surgeries, one as a nurses room and one spare which could be used by a fourth partner but to do this we needed to increase our list. Peter Curtin, the other police surgeon, was single handed and was due to retire having set up practice in Church Road, St Marks. He qualified in 1939 MRCS LRCP, the conjoint degree as explained above, joined the naval reserves as a Surgeon Lieutenant and saw service in the far east where we are told by some of his patients that he was a prisoner of war. Upon returning to UK he was promoted to Lt. Commander before returning to study and obtain his MBBS in 1948.

We negotiated a loose partnership for a year in which he continued in his own practice so that on his retirement we inherited his list and were able to appoint Dr Paul Kettle in 1979. I had met Paul on a previous occasion whilst he was a psychiatric SHO at the large Victorian hospital, Coney Hill, in Gloucester. I had requested a consultant’s visit as a patient’s psychosis had deteriorated and a compulsory Admission was needed. Whilst we were signing the papers our patient ran out and was last seen running down the road with Paul in hot pursuit.

Once Paul had settled in Muriel felt that she should finally hang up her stethoscope and retire from being our permanent locum so we needed to appoint a replacement. Dr Felicity Sloan was already working in local authority clinics and joined us but because we only had 4 consulting rooms she had to Box & Cox until we bought the building and undertook a programme of redevelopment. Not long after moving into her new room in the basement Felicity had to leave for domestic reasons. We replaced her with Joanna Kinder who stayed a short time so her place was taken by Jackie Gumb who had just finished her traineeship in Thornbury. She did not settle with us and after a short stay accepted a post at her old training practice. We then had the task of advertising again following which Isobel McKenzie was appointed in ????.

At the end of June 1994 Bob Peacock retired and we gave him a grand send off on the MV Conway Castle leisure cruiser from Upton upon Severn to Tewkesbury and return. Unfortunately he only enjoyed 18 months of retirement suffering a fatal coronary at home.

Bob was replaced in 1995 by Andrew Green and we settled down to stabilise the practice but further changes were to come. In ???? Paul Kettle announced that he wished to apply for a single handed post on Hoy in the Orkney Islands. We agreed that he should go ahead, which he did, and was accepted, so once again we celebrated on the Conway Castle to send him on his way and wish him success in his new venture.

His replacement was Adrienne MCKellar, another Scottish graduate bringing the total to three but this was to reduce to two as I decided to retire upon reaching 60 early in 2002 one month short of 30 years at Yorkleigh.


In 1972, when I arrived the surgery was staffed by 2 receptionists. Mrs Peters worked from 08.30 to 15.00 and did everything except run the morning surgery which was done by Mrs Fletcher who left at 11.00 and returned at 15.00 to run the evening session until we closed at 19.00. During the morning Mrs Peters took calls, prescriptions, visits and all other messages through a PABX telephone exchange. With Mrs Fletcher’s help between directing the patients they had everything ready for us to deal with by the end of morning surgery.

Gradually the workload increased and we gradually took on more staff all working in the main office. The first person to work behind the scenes was our typist Pam Parker who initially occupied the spare room upstairs and then after the appointment of Paul Kettle worked from the small room at the front of the upper landing. Eventually she had to share with our first practice manager, Ian Campbell, who managed the redevelopment in 1988. Prior to his appointment I had been introduced to Dr Dowler of Churchdown who ran a business known as Practice Administration Services and we asked him to look after the business side. He did this until his retirement having seen us through the period with Peter Curtin and the arrival of Paul Kettle. Ian was followed for a short period by Sylvia South and then Terry Allen who guided us through many changes commencing with Bob Peacock’s retirement. He was still in post when I retired.

At the time of the redevelopment of the surgery computerisation in General Practice was in its infancy and was not suitable for clinical use but became a management tool requiring a further increase in office staff so that today pen and paper are almost redundant.


In 1972 there were no nurses employed by the practice. All nursing was provided by the Health Authority in the form of a visiting district nurse and later a midwife. The district nurse would be attached to a group of practices and collect details of visits daily. The midwife worked from the maternity unit at St Paul’s Hospital and it was a later development that she attended the surgery for antenatal clinics.

In the late 1960’s there was a change in the management of the Health Visiting. Previously the HV nurses worked an area and had to liase with all the surgeries so that when they changed to being attached to an individual practice there was at 93 St Georges Road a degree of resistance and our first HV, Dorothy Bullough, experienced a lack of cooperation from Terence McCaffry until he began to appreciate her place in the team. I think that by 1972 he had accepted the change and had delegated the running of the Wednesday afternoon baby clinic to their trainee who had left by the time of my arrival so guess who got the job! The clinic finished by 15.30 and I joined Muriel and Dorothy for tea which was served in my room accompanied by GingerNut biscuits, which were Muriel’s favourite.
When Dorothy retired as health visitor she joined us as our first practice nurse and worked until her final retirement and illness which lead to her eventual death. She was followed as HV by Joan Heron who was helped by a number of collegues as our workload required 2 health visitors. Joan replaced Dorothy as our practice nurse and saw the gradual increase in work leading to the development of a nursing team.

There are too many that have passed through as staff, employed or attached to mention but all have contributed in some way or another to make Yorkleigh the surgery that it is.

Before Works Commenced

The Redevelopment of 93 St George’s Road

Following the purchase of the property from Mrs Ridley we embarked on a project to upgrade and modernise in accordance with current practice and we were fortunate in having a partner, Dr Felicity Sloan, whose husband dealt with property. He helped us through the various hurdles in planning so that we could engage a builder to start at the end of January 1988.

On the weekend prior to work commencing I took a photographic record of the building and garden and again at various stages during the work.

  • Road view
  • Road view
  • Annex flat
  • Front door
  • Old garage ready to fall down

The Garden

Views showing the entrance to flats 1 and 2 in the main house and 3 in the annex basement:

The garden was terraced in Victorian times and now neglected. In 1975, soon after the arrival of Dr Peacock, our families attempted to reclaim and cultivate it but it was a losing battle and after one season the weeds were back in control.

The Interior

It is my understanding that the practice under Dr Keating was set up in a house, now replaced by modern flats, on the other side of the road and on moving to 93 used the annex as reception and waiting rooms and the doctors consulted in the front room partitioned into 2 consulting rooms. The rest of the house was a private residence but gradually the medical use extended to the whole of the ground floor with the first floor remaining as a flat. This must have been in Dr Ridley’s time as I recall that Dr McCaffry occupied it until moving into his own house. By the time I arrived there were surgeries upstairs as well as the one on the ground floor and this arrangement continued until the redevelopment.

Ground Floor Entrance Hall

This photo shows how little had been changed from the domestic occupation. The stairs are still boxed in and the front door to the flat has been removed. The door at the end leads to the patient’s toilet and three out of the four doors to the main rooms are still in use, only the reception door was removed in the conversion to the present waiting room.

Patients View of Reception from the Door

Reception was a small area inside the door closed off from the rest of the office. Initially both work tops were of the same height but the raised level was added later to comply with confidentiality. This was the position from which the surgeries were run and where most patient contacts occurred.

The nerve centre was the desk where all incoming calls were taken and acted upon. In 1972 when I arrived Mrs Peters was on duty from 08.30 until 15.00 during which time she took new appointments, visit requests, prescription repeats, requests to speak to doctors and any other messages. The incoming calls were via a large switchboard (I think termed a PABX). She had all these details prepared for us to deal with by 11.00 when surgery finished so that we would meet, usually in Dr McCaffry’s room, for coffee and to allocate the work. The shelving units see here were gradually added as the need arose.

Initially there was a second receptionist, Mrs Fletcher who attended from 08.30 until 11.00 to run the morning surgery from the other counter. She then went home and returned at 15.00 to take over for the evening surgery until 19.00. As demand increased we had to employ more staff to cover the clerical duties.

This is the view of the office from the nerve centre desk showing the record storage and cabinet for the coffee. Originally the records were stored in metal filing boxes which were changed to this “lateral filing” system which lasted well into the new office.

We had a DIY policy and spent a weekend assembling the shelves ready for work on the Monday. The same was applied to painting, we stripped down a room on a Friday after surgery, painted ceiling, walls and undercoated woodwork on the Saturday and top coated early Sunday so that it was dry enough by the evening to replace the furniture.

The Waiting Room

This was a rather depressing room removed from the office with no means of communication between the two, an arrangement outdated by the standards of the 1980’s. We had a buzzer and light system to notify the reception that another patient was required who was then called by intercom. The receptionist, standing in the corner of the office could look through the glass door to check that the patient had responded.

The Health Visitors


This area, now the main reception office, was in the early day of the surgery the two consulting rooms and then used by the Health Visitors.

  • Access from the main corridor was via a passage with sink and heater for washing of coffee cups etc. This lead into two consulting rooms, the first and larger one used when only one HV was attached.

  • And the second when we had two HVs

  • At the back of both along the window was a passage originally connecting with the annex flat but now kept locked (door handle seen on left of the photo).

  • Passage beside the stair leading to back lobby with toilet and central heating boiler.

  • Also showing the modern steriliser! A door to what is now the basement stair opened into the cleaner’s cupboard as access was closed off.

Ground Floor Surgery (Dr McMinn)

  • Little has changed, note – no computer!

  • The door led to his examination room.

  • Note the examination couch is built over a bath as indicated by the tiles and soap dish on the wall.

  • The stair is much the same as today.

First Floor

  • Looking back

  • Staff toilet

Store Room

  • This had also been a bathroom with the hot water tank in the cupboard behind the door. The bath was removed during treatment for rot in the wall and the wooden plinth was built with storage under it.

  • This was the only hanging space for staff coats, though at that time there was fewer staff in both reception and administration.

Dr Peacock’s Room

Dr Kettle’s Room

Practice Manager’s Room

Dr Hodges’ Room

Nurse’s Room

The Flats

The Basement Flats

There were two doors in the basement entrance and the corridor was divided to create the two flats.

Flat 1 Alongside the Drive

  • Corridor with partition wall on right

  • Bathroom

  • Living room

  • View towards the kitchen

  • View from the kitchen

  • Bedroom

  • Bedroom view towards corridor

Flat 2

  • Entrance corridor with partition wall on left

  • Living room which had an archway to the bedroom which had no external window

  • And this in turn lead to an internal bathroom

  • Internal wall devoid of plaster possibly in the corridor separating Flat 2 from Flat 3

Flat 3

  • Living room

  • Kitchen

  • Bathroom

All flats were obviously unfit for habitation, were closed with the consequent loss of rent to Mrs Ridley and this may have prompted her decision to sell enabling us to bring the building up to NHS standards. Without this we would have had to find suitable accommodation elsewhere.

The Annex Flat

This flat had been occupied for many years, certainly before my arrival in 1972, by a single lady teacher and it was necessary to give her notice so that we could proceed with the development. Following her departure we moved, as a temporary measure, the Health Visitors in so that Felicity Sloan could have a surgery of her own.

  • Annex front door and steps

  • View of the flat occupied by the Health Visitors

  • View of the flat occupied by the Health Visitors

  • View of the flat occupied by the Health Visitors

  • View of the flat occupied by the Health Visitors

  • View of the flat occupied by the Health Visitors

  • View of the flat occupied by the Health Visitors

  • Dr Sloan’s room (old HV room rear)

  • Dr Sloan’s room (old HV room rear)

  • Typist’s room (old HV room front)

  • Pam Parker used to share with the practice manager in the small first floor office

  • View along the back corridor showing the door to the flat

This arrangement must have been temporary, as will be seen in later photos the flat was gutted at the same time as the basement and the Health Visitors must have moved back into a part of their old rooms.

Work Begins

Work commences Saturday 23rd January 1988

  • Work commences Saturday January 1988

  • The first thing to go was the garage, which was on the point of falling down

  • This gave access to the rear of the building so that tons of cotswold stone could be delivered to create the base for the new car park and give the contractors space in which to work

  • Building out from the basement

  • Foundation for the permacrib retaining wooden box wall which is guaranteed for 70 years

  • The foreman in the base of the wall

  • The wall beginning to take shape, it is stabilised by infilling with the Cotswold stone because of the gradient on the garden going down to the River Chelt the size and depth of the car park was limited

  • Stone infilling, then further layers were added up to the final height

  • View from below

  • Another view from below

  • Nearly up to the final level

The Basement

Having created a space in which to work the contractors moved into the basement.

  • The division between the two flats was removed to create the main coridor

  • Builder’s debris in the living area of Flat 2 (now Izzie’s surgery)

  • View the other side of the arch showing future waiting area. Also a new doorway has been opened into Flat 3 which will become the HV and nurses rooms

  • Flats 3 and ground floor flat stripped out

  • This part and the front of the basement were subject to damp so a false wall and tanking had to be installed

  • This part and the front of the basement were subject to damp so a false wall and tanking had to be installed

  • The new basement stairs go in

  • The stud wall in the basement

External Basement Works

  • The new door frame

  • Ready for new windows

  • New windows fitted and commencing the roofing

  • Re roofing – front

  • The annex gets a new roof – previously a flat one

  • General rear view

  • The new drive

The Finished Basement and Flats

Occupied the Basement August Bank Holiday 1988

  • Main hall without rear door leading to basement stairs

  • Main hall without rear door leading to basement stairs

  • Opening into basement

  • View from rear door

  • Waiting area formed from the inner room of Flat 2 leading to the nurses and health visitor rooms in the old Flat 3

  • Nurses’ room

  • Health Visitor’s room

Flat 1

Two surgeries were created from Flat 1.

  • Dr Hodges at the rear

  • Dr Hodges at the rear

  • Dr Kettle along the drive

  • Dr Kettle along the drive

Flat 2

The rear half of Flat 2 became Dr Sloan’s surgery.

Work Continues

Ground Floor

Attention now turned to the ground floor. The now empty ex HV room was to become the new office.

First the works had to be shielded from the patients who still had to use the main hall whilst the opening for the new reception window was made.

  • Frame to go in

  • All while normal surgeries continued via the old reception and waiting room

  • A new opening cut into the flat

  • Passageway beside reception to the flat

  • Making good the plastering

  • Bricking up the flat front door

  • Dr McMinn’s room gets a facelift (I think he took 2 weeks leave)

  • His examination room (old bath removed)


  • The practice manager’s room (ex Dr Kettle) was used as a store

  • For builder’s and medical items

  • Secretarial office (ex Dr Hodges’ room)

  • Rewiring the landing

  • Frame for the new waiting room ready for fitting

The Finished Surgery

  • Looking clean and smart with new ground floor shutters.
    Note the absence of chimney stacks at the rear of the house. All four were unsafe but being in a conservation area the front two had to be reinstated.

  • New sides to the steps with rails and a smart new sign.
    The name Yorkleigh was reintroduced at this time inline with the fashion for a group name.

The Drive

Drive and rear views

Car Park

  • Thorny shrubs to grow into a barrier

Public Areas

  • The refurbished public areas

  • The refurbished public areas

  • The new waiting room which was the old office and now, with the glass partitioning observable from the office, under view of the staff which was a problem in the old room

It was still very cold and uninviting but an improvement on the previous room


The new office before use and the introduction of personalisation

The records room, now outdated by computerisation, was the latest in dealing with the old NHS packets and known as lateral filing

Ground Floor Nurse’s Room

  • Corridor to the ground floor nurse’s room

Dr McMinn

Dr McMinn’s refurbished room

Dr Peacock

Dr Peacock’s new room, previously the waiting room


  • Upstairs to the new administration centre!

  • How nice and clean and uncluttered it is!

Conference Room

The new conference room, the old nurse’s room

Staff Room

The new staff room, Dr Peacocks’ room

Practice Manager’s Room

  • The Practice Manager’s room, after clearing the builder’s supplies

  • The Practice Manager’s room, after clearing the builder’s supplies

  • This small room must have been a dressing room in the original house and then became, when the surgery moved into the 1st floor an examinatiion room, the typist’s room later shared with the Practice Manager and as shown here a store.

General Admin

The general admin office in what is now the “Peacock Room”


The Finished Building

The building is complete allowing the surgery to continue its work helping those in medical need from day to day. Thanks to the decision of our landlady, Mrs Ridley, to sell and enable us to purchase the property we were able to bring the services up to modern standards and which continue to be in use over 25 years later.

Roger Hodges 1972-2002
Sept 2014