Vets here at the Elizabeth Street Veterinary Clinic were amongst the first in the UK to use x-rays diagnostically.
Well over 100 years ago our predecessor, Mr. Alfred Sewell, was taking dogs to an ‘X-ray Photographer’, Mr. W.A. Caldwell at his premises, off Wigmore Street, behind where Selfridges now is. We know from American newspaper stories that in 1913 Alfred Sewell took a dog named Mike, who was uncomfortable and not eating food, to Mr. Caldwell, after Mike’s owner noted that one of his wife’s hat pins was missing. The x-ray revealed a seven inch pin in Mike, who was only 18 inches long!
Around 10 years later, Alfred Sewell, his son Louis Sewell and their partner Frederick Couzens, purchased their own x-ray machine, importing it from Chicago. This was one of the first x-ray machines used in a private veterinary facility in Britain.
At that time the risks from exposure to radiation were not yet known, so as you can see from this photo taken around 1930 by Mr. Denys Danby, who succeeded these vets, the nurses did not wear protective lead aprons. In fact, Mr. Caldwell, the x-ray pioneer, died of radiation poisoning and is memorialised at the German Röntgen Museum.
Needless to say modern ‘Ionising Radiation Regulations’ make our digital x-rays safe both for pets and for those who take and interpret the radiographs.