This title was given to
the individual employed to carry the surgeon’s
instruments, (In the early days of surgery they
had to purchase their own) they were known
Boys” or Box
Man and they existed prior to the Second
World War. 6
These could be required to attend three of the
surgeons at the hospital, and according to E.S
Pope, were recruited at times from the patients
in the hospital who were paid 3d
every patient who was “bled”. Pope goes on to say however that
this stopped at around 1813 when the surgeons
appointed their own Box Carriers.
The Box Man would be required, as part of
his duties, to ensure that the instruments were
kept clean, and in good condition. In the case
of saws, knives and scissors, it was his duty
to keep them sharp! They had various other
duties especially prior to the discovery of
anaesthesia that is to act as an extra handler
when the need arose.
It was also the tradition that the Box carrier
used to carry the surgeons instruments onto the
ward so that lesser operations could be carried
This task was also taken at one time by his
Dresser, his junior assistant. It enabled the
Dresser to have a front row view of the
operation to be undertaken, and thus help him
in his studies.
The practise of sharpening instruments carried
on into the very early eighties.
Fred Wheedon MBE was first appointed as
Box Boy at the Lambeth Hospital sometime during
the late 1930s and soon afterwards he convened
to the role of theatre attendant.
Fred Wheedon was
the Membership Secretary of BAODA until just
before his death in 1989. Sally Garner who
to a lot of this information comes from
replaced him. 12