The surgery can trace its roots back until 1870 when it was based at 12 All Saints Green in Norwich, opposite where John Lewis stands today.
12 All Saints Green
Whilst the front of the three storey building dates back to the eighteenth century, parts of the property are believed to be much older – possibly dating back to the fifteenth century.
The property came under threat from developers in the 1950s but fortunately the Norwich Society successfully applied for a preservation order to be put in place to secure the future of the row of buildings on this site.
One of the most notable doctors to practise on the site was Dr Darrell who was a West Indian by birth. Dr Darrell was well known for keeping a stable of trotting horses which would often be paraded on The Green for him to view after his morning surgery. He was well known in the city and would regularly entertain local dignitaries in the first floor dining room at All Saints Green.
Dr Darrell had a groom, one John Holden, who would take him out visiting patients.
It is said that at Dr Darrell’s funeral many of his patients lined both sides of Ber Street as a mark of respect. At that time Ber Street was in an overcrowded and poor part of the city.
Dr Darrell was so well respected locally that a stone horse trough was purchased by public subscription in his memory. This was originally located on All Saints Green but can now be seen in Castle Meadow.
Both Dr Darrell and John Holden are mentioned in Sir Alfred Munning’s biography.
Dr Harrington Wyndham Darrell’s Memorial
In 1930 Dr Kirk Bryce joined in partnership with Dr Bannerman. During the war Dr Bryce ran a First Aid Post in Thorpe Hamlet and had to attend patients at various bomb sites. The surgery itself had a close shave when Bonds Department Store took a direct hit.
John Holden’s son, Alfred, started work as a page boy at the surgery and in time became the resident caretaker. Alfred lived with his wife and son in the top floor of the surgery.
During wartime he kept a flock of chickens in the back garden which provided the doctors with eggs which must have helped whilst rationing was in force.
Alfred became a well known character in Norwich. He was small in stature and could not see over the steering wheel of the ‘Austin 16’ he drove for the doctors. Apparently being a passenger in the car was a terrifying experience as the car always occupied the middle of the road.
Sadly Alfred died in 1968 but there are still patients who can remember him.
Dr Bryce senior was a GP in Norwich for 43 years with patients scattered all over the city. When the NHS started in 1948 he had over 5,000 patients on his personal list. To put that into context the surgery with 6 doctors today has just under 9,000 patients.
His son Dr David Bryce joined the surgery in 1971. At that time there was just one receptionist, no appointment system – just turn up and wait – it was not unusual for 100 patients to be seen in a day.
Home visits were much more common than they are now and up to 20 patients would have to be visited each day. Fortunately, driving around the city was much easier than it is today.
The surgery had a long association with the Mackintosh chocolate factory from 1947 until it closed in 1996. Dr Bryce senior became the GP to the Mackintosh family and other directors of the company which must have given him an insight into big business.
The company subsequently merged with Rowntree of York and is now part of the Swiss giant Nestle.
In 1993 the All Saints Green Surgery merged with Hall Road Surgery and moved into purpose built premises in Ninham Street Norwich.
Dr David Bryce retired in May 2008 which finally brought to an end the 70 year family association with the surgery.
The Surgery Today
Dr Darrell would hardly recognise how general practice works in the 21st century. The surgery now has six doctors, three nurses, two health care assistants and support staff of 14.