Professor A.H.R.Rowe

Past president: 1977-1978

Professor A.H.R.Rowe

I decided that wanted to be a Dental Surgeon at about the age of five and never changed my mind. I was greatly influenced by my Father who was in practice and a Guy's dentist with whom I lived as an evacuee during the early part of the war. They both allowed me to help in their laboratories, which taught me how to use a variety of dental materials. It was at this time that I first met Jack Tulley, whose career was intertwined with mine for many years.

My father suggested that I should train at "The London" where I was accepted but the Guy’s dentist said that I should go to Guy’s and I have never regretted that decision. I started at Guy’s in September 1943; I took 2nd MB in 1945 (despite being interrupted by several V1 flying bombs and living for a while in an air raid shelter) and obtained my BDS in 1948. I was appointed house surgeon to Mr Kelsey Fry (later Sir William Kelsey Fry) and I was then called up to do National Service which prevented me from completing the rest of the MB. I served eighteen months in the Royal Army Dental Corps; the first part was in Egypt's canal zone, and the second part was in Libya in a mobile dental truck, located near a beautiful beach.

I then went into practice with AD Robinson and we both worked part time at Guy’s and ran the equivalent of a full time practice. The FDS was introduced in 1947 and I passed the exam in 1954. It then became apparent that a higher degree, either a PhD or an MDS, was desirable for further promotion. In 1962 I was appointed to a new post of Senior Lecturer in the Conservation department at Guy’s and in 1965 I was awarded the MDS Degree of the University of London, the first Guy’s graduate to gain this degree via research work. I was greatly encouraged throughout by both Professors Rushton and Herbert.

When Professor Herbert retired in 1967 I was appointed Reader and Head of the Department of Conservative Dental Surgery and promoted to Professor in 1971. There were many highlights in my career including designing the new Conservation Department for the Tower and moving from the Old building in 1975.

During the following years I was involved with:

The Restorative Dental Society

Founded by Prof Pickard of the Royal Dental Hospital, who encouraged several members of the clinical schools of London to form a club specifically concerned with the practice of Restorative Dentistry in London. It began with several teachers from the Conservation departments of the London Schools who met to discuss how to promote Conservative (Restorative) Dentistry in the schools. I can remember this group included John Forrest, John Maclean, Harry Alred, Ivan Curzon, Jeffrey Alexander and a representative from Kings College. The group met on 2 or 3 occasions at the Royal Dental and agreed to form a club with a prime object of advancing Conservative (Restorative) dentistry.

The Restorative Society met regularly and soon had a program of lectures and demonstrations planned for the 20-30 members. As the society developed, meetings were held around the country. One of these meetings was hosted in Norwich by George Richards who was not only President of the society but at the same time also Lord Mayor of that city. He was a personal friend and a keen golfer.

This year's annual meeting was held in Belfast and attracted a wide audience. That’s a long way from a few people in a small room at the Royal Dental in Leicester Square! Dentistry has changed out of all recognition since those early days when the society was formed, many new materials and techniques have been developed. This applies especially for aesthetic materials for the restoration of teeth. The society has played a big part in spreading the knowledge and practice of these techniques as wide as possible across the country.

Another area of special interest to the society is that of dental implants, pioneered by another colleague and personal friend, Prof Richard Johns in Sheffield.

I had the great privilege to work with many distinguished colleagues, including Tony Naylor, Nick Vale, Tom Pitt Ford and Richard Johns, to mention just a few.

In 1985 my colleagues elected me Dean of the Dental School, which was a very unexpected honour. I was preceded in this office by my old friend Jack Tulley. The day I took office Guy’s Dental School merged with the Royal Dental Hospital of London School of Dental Surgery. Those members of the Royal staff who wished to transfer to Guy’s were given a warm welcome. This was a very challenging time as Dean as I had to ensure that the new arrivals settled in well and I think the result was that we had a happy school. After I left my successor was informed that Guy’s was rated the top research school in the country, a great tribute to all the staff.

I was very fortunate to be Dean at the Dental School in 1989 when it celebrated its centenary. Many distinguished guests were present, including the Princess Royal who was (and still is in 2018) the Chancellor of the University. I had the honour of introducing Her Royal Highness to all the senior staff and showing her round both floors of the school before a service at Southwark Cathedral, now familiar to Guy’s students for prize giving and diploma ceremonies.

In 1993 I was awarded the Collyer Gold Medal by the College of Surgeons for distinguished services to Dentistry.

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