Blue plaque commemorates ‘one of the first black British consultants’

A new blue plaque has been put up to commemorate neurologist James Samuel Risien Russell.

He was one of the first black British consultants, according to English Heritage.

The plaque stands outside the building in Marylebone, central London, which served as his home and private practice from 1902 until his death in March 1939.

(English Heritage/PA)
(English Heritage/PA)

Dr Rebecca Preston, blue plaques historian at English Heritage, said: “An extremely talented physician, JS Risien Russell furthered our understanding of many conditions of the nervous system and mental health issues.

“We are delighted to recognise him with a blue plaque on the building where he lived and worked for nearly 40 years.”

English Heritage said the significance of Dr Risien Russell’s contribution to neurology has only recently been understood because of research by the Windrush Foundation charity.

The heritage organisation said he advanced our knowledge of the brain’s anatomy and nervous system, and also defined conditions including subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord.

Arthur Torrington
Arthur Torrington (English Heritage/PA)

Arthur Torrington, director of the Windrush Foundation, said: “Like Dr James Samuel Risien Russell, I was also born in British Guiana.

“I first knew of his life and times only 10 years ago, when his story was brought to my attention.

“Not long afterwards a colleague and I completed a project about Dr Russell’s contribution to World War One and neurology.

“The plaque is a direct result of a nomination by Dr John Henderson, a Canadian physician, with supporting information from me.

“We all felt that Dr Russell’s contribution to Britain deserved an English Heritage blue plaque and we applaud English Heritage for their recognition of Dr James Samuel Risien Russell.”