Sir Robert Charles Brown, M.A., M.B., F.R.C.P., F.R.C.S. was born in 1836, to Agnes and Robert Brown both being surgeons at that time. Sir Robert Charles’ father was an honorary physician to the dispensary in Preston, which was located at 96 Fishergate, between Lune Street and Fox Street, and was very instrumental in the promotion of the establishment of an Infirmary or hospital for the town, however this was not achieved until 1869, 15 years after his death.Advertisement
Charles was born in the house of his parents on Winckley Square No 27. Until the age of seventeen he was educated at Preston Grammar School under the watchful eyes of Rev. George Nun Smith and Rev. Edwin Smith. He then left to become a medical pupil of Mr Thomas Dixon who was a visiting surgeon to Preston’s prison, to which he went on a daily basis along with daily visits to the old Preston Dispensary attending the practice of the out-patient department. Whilst studying under Thomas Dixon in 1853, Charles passed his preliminary examination in classics and mathematics.
In July 1855 Charles continued his education by attending Kings College medical school for the next 3 years, but on Feb 1st 1858, 9 months before he gained his first qualifications his father died. It was then necessary for Charles to earn his own living and he became House Surgeon to the old Preston Dispensary, also during this time he was able to also have periods of study in London, Edinburgh and Dublin. He held this post until 1863 when he began his own private practice and appointed Hon. Medical Officer to the Dispensary, having previously being Senior Medical Officer.
On the opening of the Preston Royal Infirmary in 1870 Charles was appointed as House Surgeon, later becoming Physician and Consulting Physician. During his lifetime of practice he held many appointments but his main concern was the health and welfare of the people of Preston. He urged authorities to introduce domestic science into schools; he also funded a new operating theatre to be built, fully equipped with anaesthetics room, consulting rooms, lavatory and a lift for the patients. In 1909 Charles continued his benevolence with the installation of three new observation wards. In 1919 king George V conferred a Knighthood on Charles for his contribution and success of health since 1869.
During his lifetime Charles had donated more than £40,000 to the Infirmary. His career and generosity were recognised nationally and locally by the authorities of the time, the council of Preston conferred their highest accolade by making him an Honorary Freeman of the Borough in 1910.
On his death in 1925 he bequeathed his body to the directors of the research hospital in Cambridge also in his will he instructed the residue of his estate, a sum of £26,000 go as an endowment for Lostock Hall Continuation hospital.
Four years after his death a new wing was built and one of the wards was named after Charles Brown in recognition of his work.
The ‘Notable People of Preston’ series is written by Gillian A. Lawson, the archivist of the Preston Historical Society.