The¶ Rookery Medical Centre came into being when Alton House Surgery moved into The Rookery shopping centre in October 1974. The precinct, as the shopping complex was then described, was not officially opened until March 1975, but by January 1975 two units had been opened, one of which was the ‘health centre’. Since 2010 the shopping complex has been called The Guineas, but the part occupied by the surgery and various other businesses is still called Rookery House today. Interestingly, the name ‘Rookery’ for this part of town goes back much further than the 1970s shopping centre, in fact as far as the early 19th century at least. The name can be seen on the earliest census of 1841, and it appears in historical records even earlier than that (see the 1836 reference below). It’s also of interest that The Rookery Medical Centre is not the first medical premises to have been in this part of town either. In fact the earliest known location for a medical premises in Newmarket was that of Gilman the apothecary in the late 17th century, who had a shop in Drapery Row, which is now essentially a back service road for part of The Guineas (see the page on Gilman the apothecary for details). Even before that, earlier forms of medic likely had a presence in this part of town, where the original market was held (see Henry Veesys etc. – medical care before the 17th century for details).
The six GPs who made the move from Alton House to The Rookery in 1974 were Drs McNeill, Walker, Dossetor, Wallace, Baxter and Wiggins. The chart below records all of the partners and employed doctors who have worked at the surgery since then (it does not include the many GP trainees/‘registrars’ and various locums who have worked at the practice – the line has to be drawn somewhere!). Obviously there have been and are a large number of nursing, dispensary, reception and various forms of administrative staff working at the practice too. This has been an increasing feature over the decades and a snapshot in October 2017 showed 40 staff employed at the practice aside from the doctors. The role of Practice Manager has evolved during this time. The first person who could be defined as a manager for the practice was Nel Howden, who worked at Alton House, initially in the dispensary. She was succeeded by Hilda Noble in 1973 who therefore came to The Rookery as Practice Manager in 1974. She retired in 1985, being replaced by Jean Bucknell (1985-1991). Then came Jane Taylor (1991-2009) followed by Scott Burley (2009-date).
The surgery has slowly continued to expand over the years, including acquiring extra space in the Rookery House building. In 1997 it extended into what was named the Alton Wing, after the old surgery building (no-one appears to have been aware at the time that further back the name Alton originally had come from the Gray family’s origins in Hampshire). How unaware we can be of the history all around us – in that regard it’s also of interest that the lovely waiting room mural was painted in 1999 (since first publishing this page in 2019, the mural has been painted over, so I’ve added a photograph of it below).
One noticeable feature in the chart below is that everyone was a partner until 2004, but since then increasingly the doctors have been employed, the number of partners steadily reducing. The way that general practice was funded changed in 2004 triggering that development. When this change happened, not many people seemed to realise that employed doctors were quite common historically (for example see the page on Clement Frederick Gray earlier in The Rookery practice chain), and like in earlier times they have a tendency to move on sooner, often to become partners elsewhere – it can also be a handy way to step down before moving on.
1974-1980: McNeill (one of the six partners who came from Alton House in 1974; started in 1932)
1974-1975: Walker (one of the six partners who came from Alton House in 1974; started in 1949)
1974-1988: Dossetor (one of the six partners who came from Alton House in 1974; started in 1954)
1974-1989: Wallace (one of the six partners who came from Alton House in 1974; started in 1965)
1974-2002: Baxter (one of the six partners who came from Alton House in 1974; started in 1973)
1974-2000: Wiggins (one of the six partners who came from Alton House in 1974; started in 1973)
1975-2010: White (partner)
1980-2011: Longman (partner)
1984-1989: Short (partner)
1989-2012: Sriskandan* (partner 1989-2011; employed 2011-2012)
1989-DATE: Wace (partner)
1997-2000: Wilson (partner)
1998-2000: Glasby (partner)
2000-2017: Saban† (partner 2000-2015; employed 2015-2017)
2000-2006: Selby (partner)
2002-DATE: Jackson (partner)
2002-DATE: Ramsay (partner)
2006-2011: Yull (employed 2006-2007; partner 2007-2011)
2008-2014: Le Quesne (employed 2008-2011; partner 2011-2014)
2009-2011: Li (employed)
2010-2014: Phillips (employed 2010-2011; partner 2011-2014)
2011-DATE: Knowles (partner)
2011-2015: Sethi (partner)
2011-2019: Waters/Green (employed – married 2012 and changed name to Green)
2013-2014: Patel (employed)
2014-DATE: Surendran (employed)
2014-2015: Beaumont (employed)
2014-2017: Marriott (employed)
2014-DATE: Nash (employed)
2015-2016: Turner (employed)
2016-DATE: Talebipour (employed – initially a regular locum from 2011)
2016-2020 &*** 2021-DATE: Norton (employed)
2016-DATE: Parker (employed)
2017-DATE: Place (employed)
2020-2021: Rose (employed – moved to Orchard House Surgery)
2021-DATE: Wikeley (employed)
2022-DATE: Sharma (employed)
(Last reviewed 12th December 2022).
* Known as Dr Kumar.
** Not to be confused with Dr Kumar Sriskandan (known as Dr Kumar) above.
*** Left in May 2020, returning in November 2021.
† The author of this website.
Note: some of the above were trainees/registrars before becoming employees or partners, but the dates refer only to their time as an employee or partner.
¶ ‘The’ Rookery Medical Centre was the original name for this practice, which seems to have morphed over time into Rookery Medical Centre, even on the practice website (https://rookerymedicalcentre.co.uk – which now includes ‘Welcome to Rookery Medical Centre’), although at the time of writing this footnote (2021) it was still called ‘The Rookery Medical Centre’ on the NHS website (www.nhs.uk/services/gp-surgery/the-rookery-medical-centre/D83029). Old legal documents from the 1990s attest to it being called The Rookery Medical Centre as opposed to the Rookery Medical Centre or simply Rookery Medical Centre even, as the current practice website now has it (and run by ‘The Rookery Medical Partnership’ according to even more recent accounts). Apparently this was not a conscious change, but likely developed in minds over time, The Rookery Medical Centre becoming the Rookery Medical Centre, then simply Rookery Medical Centre. ‘The’ was there originally because it was the medical centre in The Rookery, an historic name for the part of town in which the shopping centre where it’s situated was built, which itself was originally called The Rookery Shopping Centre, strictly speaking. The name referred to an area with lots of narrow streets, rather like The Lanes in Brighton or The Shambles in York. So although Orchard House Surgery would never be referred to as The Orchard House Surgery or ‘The Orchard House’ for short, rather ‘Orchard House’ (likewise ‘Oakfield’ for Oakfield Surgery, not ‘The Oakfield’), The Rookery Medical Centre was always referred to as ‘The Rookery’, and still is for short, not usually just ‘Rookery’. However, the practice now officially appears to be called simply ‘Rookery Medical Centre’, on its website at least (although it’s also of note that the part of the shopping centre where it’s situated is known simply as Rookery House, so that’s consistent with this morphed name).
Image 1: From a private collection at The Rookery Medical Centre (cropped); image ©, reproduced with kind permission of The Rookery Medical Partnership.
Image 2: Photograph taken in 2013, by the author of talkingdust.net.
Image 3: Photograph taken in 2013, by the author of talkingdust.net. [Note: the mural was painted for the practice by an Emma Samson, who I have not been able to identify and contact. If anyone knows her contact details please let me know using my contact details, which can be found via the footer below.]
Image 4: From a private collection (cropped); image ©, reproduced with kind permission of Dr Kumar Sriskandan.
Note: see comments regarding images and copyright © etc. on the Usage &c. page as well.
1836, 10th May: The parish of Newmarket St Mary as part of the Newmarket Union applied to the poor law commissioners to sell various properties, including, ‘two double cottages situate in the Rookery or Diddery’. Reference: an image of the original document in the research notes of Peter May, HD1584, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds), which he appears to have obtained from the National Archives at Kew, referencing it as PRO (Kew) MH12/1684. [Note: fortunately the name Rookery stuck, so this did not become ‘The Diddery Medical Centre’!]
1841, 6th June: The Rookery, St Mary parish, Newmarket. Reference: The National Archives, 1841 census.
1874, 4th August: ‘that quarter of our town which, from its close narrow alleys and squalid tenements, is so well fitted to be the hotbed of every disease – the Rookery’! Reference: Article entitled ‘THE SMALL POX.’ by ‘J.D.’, The Newmarket St Mary’s Parish Magazine, September 1874.
1974, 28th October: Under a small heading ‘On the move’ it was reported that ‘From next Monday, the practice of Dr. J. L. McNeill and partners will be at new premises on the Rookery. The practice, which involves six doctors, has been at Alton House, High Street, New-market, for many years.’ Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Thursday Oct 24 1974: 40 (i.e. the back page).
1975, 23rd January: An article on the new shopping centre in The Rookery reported ‘Two units in the precinct – the health centre and a furni-ture shop – are already open.’ Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Thursday Jan 23 1975: 1.
1975, 11th March: The official opening of ‘Newmarket’s Rookery shop-ping precinct’ on Tuesday 11th March reported in the paper. Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Thursday Mar 13 1975: 1.
1997, 2nd May: The official opening of the Alton Wing reported in the paper the day before the event. Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Thursday May 1 1997: 8.
1999, 14th January: The new waiting room mural reported in the paper, with a picture featuring the mural, Dr Glasby and Dr Wiggins. Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Thursday Jan 14 1999: 4.
Personal correspondence and discussion with those who have living memory of The Rookery Medical Centre, including doctors, staff and patients.
Shops History Newmarket. http://www.newmarketshops.info/index.html. See http://www.newmarketshops.info/The_Rookery.html for a general history of The Rookery area of town. [Note: newmarketshops.info has been supplied with information regarding the medical history of Newmarket by the author of talkingdust.net since August 2013 (see footnotes on some of the pages). Both websites continue to be developed, and in this sense are mutually symbiotic.]
The Medical Directory. London: Churchill. [Note: this publication has been known by various titles over the years. Initially it just covered London, but from 1847 it had a wider remit, being variously known as the London and Provincial Medical Directory, The Medical Directories, The Medical Directory, etc., essentially the same work with minor variations and developments. It is usually referred to as The Medical Directory (as opposed to The Medical Register), so that is how it’s consistently referred to on talkingdust.net.]
The Medical Register. London: General Medical Council.
Note: For published material referenced on this website see the ‘Acknowledgements for resources of published material’ section on the ‘Usage &c.’ page. The sources used for original unpublished documents are noted after each individual reference. Any census records are referenced directly to The National Archives, since images of these are so ubiquitous on microfilm and as digital images that they almost function like published works. Census records are covered by the ‘Open Government Licence’ as should be other such public records (see the ‘Copyright and related issues’ section on the ‘Usage &c.’ page for which references constitute public records, and any other copyright issues more generally such as fair dealing/use etc.).