Dr. Thomas Aubrey
One of Bitton’s most respected inhabitants was Dr. Thomas Aubrey, a doctor in practice in Bitton for 40 years till his death in1945. He later lived and had his surgery at Westover House, adjoining a pharmacy run by Miss Summerhays.
The WI Memories of Dr. Aubrey
A group from the W.I. wrote memories of him in 1957:
‘An outstanding character was Dr. Thomas Aubrey, who came to Bitton in 1905 when he took over Dr. Stone’s house and practice at Woodbine Cottage, Golden Valley. He was indeed a ‘family doctor’ of the old school. There was no national insurance benefit at that time, but to every home he went bringing healing and kindness and sympathy, often without mention of a fee for either advice or medicine. His practice extended further and further; first he covered the ground by horse and trap, then by motor-bike and side-car and in later years he wore out a car a year. ‘
‘In 1918, when he was ill with pneumonia and his only daughter died in the great influenza epidemic, to show their affection and sympathy the patients contributed to buy him a car. Later came the loss of his son (Dr. T.R. Aubrey) in North Africa in the Second World war, and yet once more it seemed he forgot himself in caring for his patients, who realized that he had literally given his life in their service when news quickly spread in the village on November 23rd 1945 that he had died in his sleep.’
His surgery was later located at Westover House, Bath Road, Bitton The pharmacy was originally located at Westover; the adjoining building which housed it was constructed c 1915.
Dr Aubrey’s Generosity
His generosity was significant because during the time of his practice few working families could afford doctors’ fees and so many illnesses went untreated. Many people had to rely on home-made medicines. Mr Clark at North Street, Oldland Common made medication, from vegetables and herbs, for stomach disorders, flatulence and indigestion. Oliver Tippetts was well known in the district for his ointment, especially for septic wounds. Depending on the seriousness of the condition, crushed white sugar was sprinkled on the wound before applying the ointment. The formula remained a closely guarded secret until his son Samuel died in 1959.
At Dr Aubrey’s funeral, at St Mary’s, farm carts were used for the wreaths. There is now a plaque to him at Bath Road, Bitton and the road Aubrey Meads celebrates his memory.