Robert George Torrens - Obituary

This obituary was originally printed in the British Dental Journal

Robert Torrens died in Poole General Hospital on May 12 1981 at the age of 77, after suffering a stroke.

Born and brought up in Eire, he qualified at Trinity College, Dublin in 1924. Not long after qualifying he and his family moved to Bournemouth and he practised in that town for the rest of his life.

He was a man of wide interests which included photography, cine-photography and ultra-microscopy. This latter interest stimulated him to investigate the nature of organic and vital tissues and he became a follower of McDonagh and Broderick in believing that disease could be diagnosed and treated by studying and attempting to change the blood chemistry. This tendency to hold controversial views rather than to accept the conventional wisdom was typical of the remarkably independent nature of the man.

This independence, however, did not adversely affect his relationship with his fellows and, as many in Bournemouth will recall, he was a good colleague and a very staunch friend.

Although originally a member of the Incorporated Dental Society he became an active member of the British Dental Association and was President of his branch in 1951. In that year also the honour of Life Membership was conferred on him. He remained on the Representative Board until 1953 and was always a regular attender at Branch and Section meetings.

R. G. Torrens was keenly interested in hospital work and was honorary dental surgeon at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Bournemouth from 1934 to 1948. This hospital was unusual in having a fully equipped dental clinic staffed by 11 honorary dental surgeons and offering a complete range of dental treatment. In 1948 the introduction of the NHS made this clinic unnecessary and it was Torrens who realised that, under the National Health Act, the hospital's function was to supply specialist dental services. He was a member of the Bournemouth Corporation Health Committee and, as a result of his efforts, a full-time consultant orthodontist was appointed in 1950, the first such appointment to be made. Torrens himself became the part-time consultant dental surgeon and rendered excellent service to his patients and his colleagues in that capacity until his retirement in 1969.

Since his retirement he had been very active in researching and writing a history of the Wessex Branch and also of the dental department at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Bobby Torrens will always be affectionately remembered in Bournemouth and the sympathy of all his friends goes out to his wife, Margaret and his two sons Hugh and Richard.

J. D. H.

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