Dentist Mike Gow speaks to Tony Robinson in the BDA's Museum and explores the fascinating history of his family, including Edward Tull-Warnock, who was one of the first black dentists we know of to qualify in the UK.
After the death of their parents, Edward and his brother Walter were adopted in 1900 by Jeanie and James Warnock and moved to Glasgow. Jeanie's brother, James Aitken, was a dentist by trade with a surgery in Glasgow's Gallowgate. James Warnock was a block-printer, a very skilled occupation requiring manual dexterity, and he decided to switch careers and became an apprentice to his brother-in-law, as a dentist.
Edward was an outstanding student and won prizes for his operative work at the Incorporated Glasgow Dental Hospital. He then went on to learn anaesthesia at the Royal Infirmary and graduated in 1910 with a Licentiate in Dental Surgery (LDS).
The greatness of his achievement cannot be under-estimated. At that time, he would have probably been the only black student in the hospital and may have faced much prejudice and adversity.
Read more about his life and achievements in our blog.
BDA Museum Head, Rachel Bairsto said: "We were delighted to host Tony Robinson in our Museum, to shine a light on this incredible story of a pioneering dentist during the Edwardian era. We are keen to ensure the diversity of dentistry through history is captured to help inspire future generations."
Mike Gow said: "My great grandfather and his sister were illegitimate and orphaned at a young age. They grew up in the poorhouse. He went on to become a dentist and influenced many other family members around him into the profession. One of these was the adopted son of his sister, who went on to become the first qualified black dentist in the UK.
"I am really proud of my family's history and their achievements against social and racial adversity. I am proud of my connection with the Tull family and their incredible story and I am pleased that this documentary will bring more awareness to their impact they have had on UK history."
An amazing collection of dental objects
The BDA Museum holds over 25,000 items, and a selection is on display at our office in London.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we cannot welcome visitors at the moment, but you are welcome to view some of our fascinating and quirky collection online.