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Punch Club

Founded by early prostate endoscopists

This short history of the Punch Club was written in 1995 by Mr George Harrison, a member of the club. His booklet was donated to the BAUS museum by his son, Mr Mark Harrison, also a member and former Club Secretary.

In the spring of 1949, Tom Chapman, Henry Stewart and John Swinney met with Tom Lane at the Meath Hospital in Dublin. This two-day session was the idea of Tom Chapman: to use his own words:

We were a small group of surgeons meeting to discuss punch resection of the prostate because, at larger meetings, it appeared to be a neglected subject"

Chapman, Stewart and Lane had at that time been “punching prostates” for more than ten years and so treated 80% of their patients with bladder outlet obstruction.

In Newcastle, William Wardill had developed similar skills with the Thompson Cold Punch after visiting the Urology Section at the Mayo Clinic, with Tom Lane, in the mid-1930’s. He was a remarkable surgeon and, on his return to Newcastle, he set up a Department of Prostatic Surgery.  Punching prostates was about the only urological operation he did.  Without doubt, Tom would have invited him to the foundation meeting of the Punch Club, but Wardill refused to work in the NHS and resigned.  John Swinney returned from the USA to fill his post at Newcastle General Hospital.

The group decided to hold a meeting, each year, at a member’s centre.  Everything was to be informal: no minutes or records.  At the dinner, which was usually held on the first evening, there were to be no speeches but, until his sudden death at a comparatively early age, Tom Chapman proposed a characteristically humorous and witty vote of thanks.

The membership was enlarged by inviting others who were known to use the punch: Ronnie Reid (Colchester), Joey Robinson (St Thomas’s, who started using the punch in the late 1930’s), Walter Mimpriss (St Thomas’s), Cosbie Ross (Liverpool), Jerry Fergusson (St Peter’s & St Paul’s) and Thomas Moore (Manchester) became members over the next few years. After ten years or so, the membership was gradually enlarged and, although some of the later members had an interest in using the prostatic punch, the Club gradually became a general urological one.

Click on the camera for some photos from the 2016 Punch Club Meeting in Middlesbrough, hosted by Janet Whiteway. The images show an outstanding dinner at the town football club, a snapshot of the scientific meetings and a few members (with partners) attempting to learn the tango. Please feel free to add your own images to this collection.

Click on the camera for some photos taken at the 2018 Punch Club Meeting in London, hosted by Declan Cahill. The main images show the members enjoying dinner at the Soho Hotel, following on from two outstanding scientific sessions at Durrant's Hotel in Marylebone and a trip to the Wellcome Collection. Please feel free to add your own images to this collection.

Click here to see the prostatic punch in more detail in the Instruments & Equipment Room or here to view the video/cartoon of the punch prostatectomy in five short sections.

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