The fight to eradicate polio
Tom Holland highlights histories that help us understand more about the background to today’s important issues. This week, the Coventry polio epidemic and issues over vaccination.
Tom Holland and guests highlight histories that help us understand more about the background to some of today’s important issues.
Helen Castor visits Coventry where, in 1957, one of the last polio epidemics hit the city. Local people were furious that widespread vaccination wasn’t brought in, but the fledgling NHS simply didn’t have enough stocks and medical experts were concerned about an American trial that had gone wrong. We learn that the government of the day were worried that Britain was entering a high-tech world without the skills that other countries had and was reluctant to bring in costly medicines from overseas, preferring that we develop our own.
The last time Parliament sat outside Westminster was in 1681, when it went to Oxford for a week. Today, with the government yet to finalise plans for the restoration and repair of the Palace of Westminster, we ask whether history might be made and a decision taken to move the engine of our democracy out to the shires once again, on a temporary basis. What can we learn from that short relocation over 300 years ago.
Top Town History features the home of Magna Carta, Egham, and the former-industrial powerhouse of Bury in Lancashire.
Producer: Nick Patrick
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.