Francis Berridge was born in London, the second son of Richard Berridge (1870-1941), landowner, of Ballynahinch Castle, Co. Galway, where he spent much of his youth. His mother was Mary Eulalia, daughter of Robert Whitman Lesley, an engineer, lawyer and business man of Haverford, Penn., USA. His paternal grandfather, Richard Berridge (1808-1887) of Ballynahinch Castle, donated £46 000 to the Lister Foundation of Preventive Medicine in Chelsea and Elstree.
He was educated at Downside School, and his deafness started at about that time. From 1928 to 1931, he was at Trinity College Cambridge. He then entered St George’s Hospital Medical School, London, with the Anne Selina Fernee Exhibition in anatomy and physiology. He qualified with the conjoint diploma in 1934. From January 1935 to June 1936, he studied in the radiological department of St George’s Hospital with the post of clinical assistant. During the last year of this appointment he also studied at the Royal Cancer Hospital, London. In 1936, he obtained the diploma in medical radiology of the University of London, being awarded a mark of distinction. From June 1936 to September 1938, he was resident radiologist at Oldchurch Hospital, Romford, working with GR Mather Cordiner. It was there that he gained remarkable experience in the radiology of the gastro-intestinal tract.
The regius professor of physics in Cambridge, John A Ryle, invited him to join his team in October 1938, as assistant in research in radiology. When war came in 1939, Berridge volunteered for all the medical services of the armed forces, but was medically unfit. During the war he worked as specialist-radiologist in the Emergency Medical Service at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and White Lodge Emergency Hospital, Newmarket; which later became Newmarket General Hospital. His association with these hospitals continued until he retired. Despite difficulties he started a high standard of radiology. After the war, he worked with RA McCance and Elsie M Widdowson in an MRC Unit in Germany; his chapter on ‘Radiological observations on the alimentary tract’ in the MRC Special Report (No. 275) on Studies of Undernutrition, Wuppertal, 1946-1949, is a classic.
In 1948 he was appointed associate lecturer in radiology in the University of Cambridge, and in 1951 was elected FFR. From 1956 to 1961 he was honorary medical editor of the British Journal of Radiology. In 1963 he was awarded the Barclay medal of the British Institute of Radiology. He was particularly gratified by his election in 1974 as honorary fellow, Faculty of Radiologists, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
Francis Berridge was a diagnostic radiologist of great clinical ability and distinction. He was very interested in teaching, and his patients loved him. He was modest and sensitive, and kind and gentle. The planning of the X-ray department at the new Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge showed his considerable administrative and organizing ability.
Outside his work he was equally enthusiastic. His hobbies were ski mountaineering, sailing, fishing and shooting. After he retired, he went to live at Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk, and worked part-time as radiologist at Cromer and District Hospital.
He was fortunate in his happy home life. He married Margaret Virginia Daw, who was a radiographer, on 6 July 1940; her father was Samuel Wilfred Peter Daw, an ENT surgeon. They had one son and three daughters.
[Brit.med.J., 1978, 1, 1558; Lancet, 1978,1, 1372; Clinical Radiol., 30, No 3, 360]