Peter Blackledge, the only child of William James Blackledge, a writer, was born in Liverpool but brought up in London. He went to the City of London School as a day boy but he was pleased when they were evacuated to Marlborough during the war, where he developed an enduring interest in nature. He studied medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital medical school and after qualification he did various house jobs and registrar posts in the NE Metropolitan region.
In 1953 he joined the P&O as a ship’s surgeon in order to travel and earn some money before going into general practice. This experience, however, encouraged an interest in infectious and occupational diseases and led him to acquire his membership of the College and his DIH diploma. He was appointed to the infectious diseases unit at Hither Green Hospital in 1959, where he spent the remainder of his professional life.
Peter had never been strong physically, having a congenital kyphosis, and he also had ankylosing spondylitis which gave him frequent pain throughout his life. He was a quiet, unassuming and modest man who had great humanity and compassion for patients, and also for all grades of staff, so that he was greatly respected. But he was also very firm and would not tolerate unreasonable self-promotional interests in his colleagues. He had a wide experience in his specialty and was a most competent and popular teacher to a whole generation of medical students from Guy*s and King’s College hospitals.
He was concise and took great pains with his teaching, which was lively and made enjoyable by a particularly charming and inimitable wit and humour - a characteristic which endeared him to friends and colleagues throughout his life. When his senior colleague died in 1970, Peter became de facto medical superintendent. By this time, with the lessening demands for fever beds, other specialties - notably geriatrics -moved into Hither Green Hospital, which led to some strain and brought out Peter’s best qualities.
Peter Blackledge married Margaret, née Condon, and they were a most devoted and hospitable couple but it was a disappointment to them that they did not have any children. Fortunately Margaret came from a large Irish farming family and they enjoyed visits from numerous nephews and nieces. They frequently went to Ireland on holiday, where they enjoyed the countryside - particularly birds and wild flowers. Peter also loved music; he played the piano well but preferred to do so on his own. In later years he played a guitar and a recorder.
On retirement he took up bowls, which gave him tremendous pleasure. It was a sport which was well within his physical capability and he soon excelled at it; he enjoyed touring the west country with his club and did well in club tournaments. He retained his sense of humour and wit until the end and showed great courage in his final illness.
J S Staffurth