A tribute to Martin Morton
11 July, 2019
Martin Morton, pictured left, and Frank Dobson
• I WAS touched by the piece on Martin Morton (Tributes to Martin Morton, the last Conservative leader of Camden Council, July 4), including the reference to his passion for exploring his family history.
This reminded me of how Martin went the extra mile to help me with research for a book I wrote about the history of Brunswick Square titled Tales of Brunswick: Bloomsbury’s Untold Past, where his great-uncle, Dr James Joseph O’Donnell, lived and ran his doctor’s surgery from 1913 until his untimely death in 1935.
Martin told me how he spent the first two Christmases of his life in 1932 and 1933 at the home of his great-uncle, although he clearly had no memory of this, being so young. Martin was very proud of his great-uncle, whom he described as “doctor to the Bloomsbury Set”, while also serving as Medical Officer of Health for the area.
Martin told me how he was able to rescue Dr O’Donnell’s brass name plate from the surgery at 28 Brunswick Square prior to its demolition in 1965 to make way for the construction of the Brunswick Centre. Martin generously provided me with photographs of his family and Dr O’Donnell, taken in 1902-03, which he allowed me to reproduce in my book.
Dr JJ O’Donnell, as he was better known, was held in high regard by his patients, which led to the eastern block of the Brunswick Centre being named O’Donnell Court.
Martin attended my book launch in 2014, where I arranged for him to be presented with a copy by his long-standing political adversary, Labour MP Frank Dobson, and their good-natured exchange of banter was a highlight of the event.
My condolences to Martin’s family, who deserve to be justly proud of the manner in which he led his life. A true gentleman.
RICCI DE FREITAS