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Burnham House Veterinary Surgery

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History of Burnham House
This is a work-in-progress as we sift through archives and old press cuttings!  If you are one of our longer-standing clients and have any memories of vets and surgeries past, please do let us know - we'd love to hear from you.
 
The first reference to a Veterinary Surgeon in Castle Street appears in the 1861 census, where a Mr Fletcher Norfolk, Veterinary Surgeon, was listed at 32 Castle Street (we are now numbers 33 and 35).  Mr Norfolk lived with his wife Sophia (whose occupation is listed as "Veterinary Surgeon's Wife"!), two sons (also Veterinary Surgeons), a daughter Maria, and their maid Ann Middleton.
 
1861 Census, 32 Castle Street:
John Fletcher Norfolk - Head - Married - 60 - Veterinary Surgeon
Sophia Norfolk - Wife - Married - 53 - Veterinary Surgeon's Wife
Master Fletcher Norfolk - Son - Unmarried - 30 - Veterinary Surgeon
Robert Fletcher Norfolk - Son - Unmarried - 27 - Veterinary Surgeon
Maria Norfolk - Daughter - Unmarried - 28 - Veterinary Surgeon's Daughter
Ann Middleton - Servant - 18 - House Servant
 
Ten years later, however, in the 1871 census, there are two vets listed in Castle Street: Mr Walter H Bulmer and his wife at number 37 and Mr John H Cooper at number 46, along with Mr William Lawrence, Veterinary Student.  It's nice to see that our support of young vets "seeing practice" has a long history!  John Hixon Cooper qualified from the London Veterinary College in April 1867 and moved to Dover soon after.  Interestingly, under "profession", Mr Bulmer has "MRCVS London" rather than "Veterinary Surgeon".  In those days no qualifications were required to call yourself a vet and Mr Bulmer was therefore one of the first vets in the country to have formal training.  MRCVS (Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) is the designation still used by practicing vets in the UK today.
 
1871 Census, 37 Castle Street:
Walter H Bulmer - Head - Married - 28 - MRCVS London
Ann Bulmer - Wife - Married - 29
Ellen Roberts - Servant - Unmarried - 18 - Domestic
 
1871 Census, 46 Castle Steet:
Margaret Loring - Head - Unmarried - 30 - Lodging-House Keeper
Elizabeth Loring - Sister - Unmarried - 26 - Dressmaker
John H Cooper - Lodger - Unmarried - 25 - Veterinary Surgeon
William Lawrence - Lodger - Unmarried - 22 - Veterinary Student
 
The census gives residences, not places of work, so it is likely that Mr Bulmer and Mr Cooper were practicing together, particularly as Mr Cooper and Mr Lawrence are both lodgers at number 46. 
 
Castle Street c.1880
The house with the first-floor bay window on the right is number 33
 
The practice appears to have been successful - in Pike's Directory for 1889 he is still in Castle Street although has now moved to number 29.  By 1891 they have two branch surgeries in Fector's Place and Tower Hamlets Road.  Mr Cooper died in 1898 and his RCVS record states "cause of death: cirrhosis of liver and general exhaustion" (a worrying prospect!).
 
Mr F B Ditmas joins the practice in 1900 and the 1901 Directory lists "Cooper and Ditmas, Veterinary Surgeons".  However, the 1905 Directory lists F C Golden and William Newman MsRCVS at 29 Castle Street and the Marine Livery Stables, Trevanion Street (which used to run from St James' churchyard to the sea).  This remains the case for the next five years until the record stops in 1909.

 
Castle Street in 1915; and 1930
 
The intervening period, including the move from 29 to 33 Castle Street, currently remains a mystery.  John Dyke MRCVS opened our direct forerunner at number 33 in 1953 (proudly advertising his phone number as "Dover 989" - still used by us).  We received a message earlier this year from someone who was directly involved:
 
"My husband, Brian C Sherlock, was the first vet in the practice at 33 Castle Street back in the fifties, managing it for John Dyke.  We lived above the shop for five years, and our eldest son - now 57 - was born in the back bedroom on the second floor!  The midwife Anne Waite (a devoted client) left at around 4am, and Brian crashed out for what was left of the night when the phone went and he had to go out for a calving, I think it was, and I was left with a newborn baby alone!"
 
John Douch MRCVS took over in 1962.  Our most long-standing clients will remember Mr Douch, who practiced here single-handedly for nearly 35 years, and his wife, Barbara, at the original surgery at 33.  Some years ago Mr Douch gave an interview to the Royal Veterinary College which gives some lovely details about his veterinary life and work - the "reasonable offer" he mentions is Jeremy's!
 
 
Pike's Directory entries for 1955 and 1976 advertising the surgery's phone number as "Dover 989" - still used by us today!
 
 
The advert from the local paper when Mr Douch retired and handed over to Jeremy in 1990.
 
Jeremy Stattersfield took over what was then the "Castle Street Veterinary Centre" in 1990 and worked for a year and a half before placing a "lonely hearts" advert in the Veterinary Record for an assistant!  Since then the practice has grown steadily to its current staff of 28, including six full-time vets, and seen huge changes in the profession.  We are now a busy, modern surgery spread over four floors of two adjoining houses, with extensive diagnostic and surgical facilities, treating over 500 pets every week.  We also have three smaller branch surgeries:  Havelock Veterinary Surgery, serving our Folkestone clients for nearly 20 years; Bewsbury Cross Veterinary Clinic in Whitfield, which opened in 2005; and our newest branch, The Goodwins Veterinary Surgery in Walmer near Deal, opened in 2010.
 
With very many thanks to Pippa Ottley at the RCVS Trust Library and the reference staff at Dover Library.
 
Updated 29/10/13 hp