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Fitzgerald's Town

was on Army Medical

was on Army Medical Board business. The unfortunate Dr. Preston soon left Lincoln to work first in Amberley and then in Napier before returning to live in Sumner where he died of pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of 37 leaving a widow and six children to grieve for him. 20 It is difficult to know why there was such strong feeling against him, but it is possible that failing health and the difficulties of serving a scattered population in a large rural area did not help. Certainly, when he treated two Peryman children following an accident his conduct could not be faulted, but later when a daughter informed him that she no longer required his care during her pregnancy he replied that he would not cancel the arrangement and expected his usual fee no matter who attended her. 21 This abrasive response may provide a clue to his apparent unpopularity, for of all the doctors involved in 19 th century Lincoln Dr. Preston was often involved in litigation wherever he was working. On the other hand he may have known his time was short, and that with six children his widow would need all the resources possible to care for them. Dr. Preston was followed by Dr. James Cooke who served the district for many years. 22 He was born in Belfast, trained in Ireland and Edinburgh, moved to New Zealand soon after qualifying and in 1885 began his long association with Lincoln which ended only with his death in 1918. Dr. Cooke was highly respected and became so much a part of the community that he sent his children to the local primary school, the first of the Lincoln medical fraternity to do so. As with his predecessors, his practice covered a wide area and the demands on his time and energy would have been considerable, but unlike them he would have enjoyed the benefits of improved roads, and for some of his time, the motor car, and the telephone. There was dismay among members of the Lincoln Domain Board though, when he applied to the Springs Road Board to channel the drainage from his property into the L1 north of the Gerald Street bridge. The continued pollution of this small river was a never ending problem for the Domain Board and there seemed to be no easy solution although a compromise of sorts was reached which is described in the discussion on local government. Dr. Cooke apparently employed other doctors. One was Dr. F.G. Westenra who seems to have been the first native-born to work in the district. Although he was educated at Christ’s College he studied medicine in Edinburgh, qualifying in 1885, and probably met Dr. Cooke there. On his return to Christchurch in 1886 he worked as Medical Superintendent for the Hospital Board, but resigned the following year, quoting the Hippocratic Oath as justification. He had admitted a patient, 168

seriously ill with syphilis, against the Board’s wishes which considered the man’s plight to be a moral problem, rather than a medical one. He then began to work in Lincoln where he was not only practising as a doctor, but was also active in various village activities. He was involved with the cricket club, the improvement society, the rifle club, the Masonic lodge, St. Stephen’s church, and in a professional capacity, with the Springston Druids Lodge. By 1891, however, he had left Lincoln and was based in Hawera for about twelve years before returning to Christchurch At the time of his death in January 1917 he was still in private practice and in addition was police surgeon and an honorary surgeon at the public hospital. 23 At first doctors were based in Christchurch or Prebbleton. However, in 1876 Dr. Durham bought a section in James St. (Lot 16 Block IV) for 20 pounds and may have built a house and lived there until he left the district in 1878. If he did build a house it may have been rented out, for the Lincoln School centennial booklet states that the early doctors practised from a house in Tancreds Road on land owned “at one time by Dunn”. This was a 50 acre block, RS1904, on the corner of Tancreds Road and Lower Springs Road (Birchs Road) and acquired by David Dunn in 1861 as a Crown grant. In the late 19 th century a house a few hundred metres west of the Birchs Road-Tancreds Road corner was known as Prestonville. It is likely that this was the site of the home and surgery of Dr. Preston, perhaps of Dr Guthrie, and probably for a short time at least, of Dr. Cooke, and of those like Dr Westenra, who worked with him. Dr. Cooke bought a section on the corner of Edward Street and Fitz Place in 1895 and from then on the house built there was the home of the incumbent doctor and medical centre for the district until well into the 20 th century. The 19 th century doctors looked after their communities with concern and compassion. Whenever there were outbreaks of diphtheria they would report the matter to the Road Board which would consider the problem as a local Health Board. The Springs Road Board acted in this way when there were reports of diphtheria in the district and when complaints were received about health risks resulting from poor drainage in Lincoln. The doctors also could be licensed vaccinators as claimed by Dr. Preston, when he defended himself in court on a complaint alleging that he had not fulfilled his obligations to his patient in the matter of due care after a difficult procedure. 169

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