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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 brainchild of Tom Chapman and, in 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.

The Four Founder Members

Henry Hamilton-Stewart

Tom Chapman

John Swinney

Tom (TJD) Lane

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. Wardill was a remarkable surgeon and, on his return to Newcastle, he set up a Department of Prostatic Surgery.  Punching prostates was almost the only urological operation he did.  Without doubt, Lane would have invited him to the foundation meeting of the Punch Club, but Wardill refused to work in the NHS and resigned.  John Swinney then returned from the USA to fill his post at Newcastle General Hospital.

Subsequent History of the Club

The group decided to hold a meeting each year at a member’s centre. Everything was to be informal, with no minutes or records.  At the dinner, 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 reflected the widespread adoption of electroresection (TURP) and gradually became a general urological one. It has remained so to this day.

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.

2019 Punch Club 70th Anniversary Meeting, London

The 70th anniversary of the Punch Club was celebrated in London, consisting of a day of talks followed by dinner at the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, on Friday 27 September 2019. Michael Dinneen, a current member of the Punch Club, kindly arranged an informal dinner for members at the Garrick Club on the evening before the meeting.

The cartoon below was printed on the menu of the 70th anniversary dinner, having first been displayed at the 1963 Punch Club Meeting in Newcastle, attended by Gershom Thompson from the Mayo Clinic.

Those giving presentations at the meeting are listed below:

Simon Chaplin
Director of Culture & Society; Director of the Wellcome Collection
Anne Hunter & Her Husband
Mark Harrison
Past-Secretary of the Punch Club
Why the Punch Club?
Dame Elizabeth Fradd
Past-Master of the Worshipful Company of Needlemakers
The Mystery of Needlemaking
Professor Susan Standring
Emeritus Professor of Anatomy, King's College London
Anatomy - Past, Present & Future
Professor Carole Rawcliffe
Professor Emerita of Medieval History, University of East Anglia
Keeping Fit in the Middle Ages
Davendra Sharma
Consultant Urologist at St George's Hospital, London
Reconstructing Injured Soldiers
Professor Sir Mike Richards
Medical Oncologist
An Unplanned Career - Moving to the Dark Side

Click here to view some photos of the meeting in the Apothecaries' Hall, thanks mainly to Patrick Keane


2018 Punch Club Meeting, London

Click here for some photos taken at the 2018 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.


2017 Punch Club Meeting, Belfast

There are, currently, no images available from this meeting but if any club member has photos which could be displayed, please contact the Web Editor by email.


2016 Punch Club Meeting, Middlesbrough

Click here for some photos from the 2016 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.


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