Three Williams – all veterinary pioneers
When I walk past this plaque on the staircase in Belgravia House I often think about who we would include if we were to update it.
The RCVS annual report for 1924/25 records the plaque as being funded by an anonymous donor; however there are a series of letters in the Frederick Smith Collection which show that it was Smith himself who funded the memorial at a cost of £10.
He gave precise instructions as to the wording and how it should look, writing on 19 September 1924 that “the letters should be black and the plate should receive a thoroughly good golden lacquer which will prevent it tarnishing for years.”
On 22 February 1925 he asks that the text of the plaque be reproduced in The Veterinary Record so “that many men will hear of Moorcroft and Youatt before they die.” He believed that “all know the name of Percivall” though you could question if that really was the case as Percivall had died 70 years earlier.
Given Smith’s passion for the history of the profession it makes sense for him to want to renew interest in these pioneers of the 19th century. I wonder if it worked?
As for 20th century veterinary pioneers, we might be too close to make a balanced judgement but my suggestion would be John McFadyean.
Who would yours be?
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