History in the making

In the first of a new series, we dip into the College's Archive to tell stories of how the profession has evolved

This two-page typewritten memorandum, dating from February 1952, addresses the proposed extension of chiropody courses from two years of study to three. This was the beginning of the transition to a regulated graduate profession with standardised national teaching.

‘In comparison with other students who are studying for professional qualifications, the chiropody student is at present compelled to spend an unreasonable proportion of time on lectures and practical work, which makes it nearly impossible to absorb or assimilate most of the information,’ authors HE Walker and CE Kemp wrote.

Henry Walker was superintendent of the London Foot Hospital, which housed the UK’s first School of Podiatric Medicine. Charles Kemp was head of the Chelsea School of Chiropody.

It was their view that an extended course would have positive effects on both students and the profession as a whole:

‘As one of the most important points of the course is to train the students in diagnosis, and in the application of his own treatments in relation to this diagnosis, it is most desirable that sufficient time should be available for the development of judgement and initiative, as well as the absorption of factual material.’

However, they issued a warning about the financial implications. Students would need larger grants to cover an extra year of living costs, and ‘any rises in the cost of living will make it increasingly difficult for the parents of the non-scholarship students to pay the fees of an additional year’.

Seventy years on, this same issue ­– known as ‘middle squeeze’ – is affecting current students. Maintenance loans increased by just 2.3% for the 2022-23 academic year, while inflation hit 8.8% in September 2022.

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Henry Walker

Henry Walker worked at London Foot Hospital for three decades, rising to superintendent in 1945. He retired in 1961, having been principal of its School of Chiropody for 14 years. He co-authored The Principles of Chiropody, a seminal textbook on the evolution, anatomy, physiology and diseases of the foot, and for many years contributed to the Society of Chiropodists’ professional journal.

Charles Kemp

Charles Kemp became head of the Chelsea School of Chiropody in 1940 and ran it until his sudden death in 1956. While other schools were influenced by medical teaching, the Chelsea School under Kemp was embedded in scientific education; he also ensured students were thoroughly prepared for private practice.