"Many years ago I found a small dark Blue covered book about Watford, in the main Watford Library, it was I think a late 19th century print and which detailed how this most modern sewage system (as it was then) was built and how it operated. I have since tried to find this book but the librarians tell me it no longer exists, at least for public reading. If anyone can find it and re-produce the chapter I am certain many will find it very interesting. The same book describes a certain Dr. Isles who was very generous when treating the poor. The story goes that he treated, for free, a young waif but in the process suffered a tiny scratch. The wound would not heal and he consulted his friends in Harley Street who could do nothing. It was probably a form of blood poising or sepsis, which for in those days, there was no cure. When he died the whole Town is said to have turned out for the funeral procession down the High Street as he was so well known and loved by the townspeople. It is sad that he is not remembered by a street name in the Town".
After some research and input from a member of the group, it was discovered that the book in question is: History of Watford and Trade Directory by Henry Williams. A copy is in the possession of another member and the following, a glowing tribute to the great man following his death, is taken directly from it:
"Great as was the loss sustained by the death of Mr John Sedgwick, still greater was that which occurred on Wednesday 19th September 1883, in the death of Dr F. H. Wilson Iles; and perhaps no event at Watford ever cast so deep a gloom over the place as did this sad and untimely occurrence. The professional duties of medical practitioners are often fraught with danger and, apart from the pay they get for their services, a debit of gratitude is due to them for the promptitude they show in obeying the summons to a bed of sickness, and the risk they run in many cases where the disease is of a contagious nature. Particulars of the circumstances that led to the melancholy death of Dr Iles were inserted in the Watford Observer on the 22nd September 1883, together with an excellent biographical sketch, which I cannot do better than quote here:
'It will be remembered that on Tuesday, the 21st August last, Dr Iles performed an operation known in the medical profession as a 'tracheotomy', a method of effecting an artificial channel for respiration in cases of croup or diphtheria. Whilst so engaged he inflicted a slight wound on his left forefinger, close to the nail, which, we are informed, scarcely amounted to a scratch, so slight, indeed, as to pass almost unnoticed by Dr Iles himself at the time. On the following Friday, however, symptoms of inflammation, portending blood-poisoning, set in, and Dr Iles next morning went to London to consult his friend Mr Rouse, of St George's Hospital, knowing that that gentleman's large experience in such cases rendered his opinions of the highest importance. By his urgent advice he gave up work and immediately resorted to active treatment. For some days there was great pain and swelling, although at this period there was scarcely anything to indicate contamination of the system; indeed; matters progressed favourably until Wednesday in last week, by which time Dr Iles had completed all arrangements for a visit to the seaside, where he hoped to res-establish his health in a short time. But on that day his partner, Dr Stradling, perceived an alarming evidence of impending internal complications, which induced him to telegraph for Mr Rouse at once. The result of the consultation led to the projected visit being put off, and the wisdom of that decisions was demonstrated by the fact that from this time the symptoms increased in gravity day by day to such a degree that Mr Rouse, on the Monday following, took a serious view of the patient's chance of ultimate recovery. This opinion was destined to be verified only too soon, for between none and ten o'clock that same evening, Dr Iles awoke from what appeared to be a comfortable sleep, with paralysis of the palate and organs of speech, which rendered breathing a matter of extreme difficulty. He never spoke again. The whole of the left side became similarly affected and, after lingering for rather more than twenty-four hours, during which he was obviously conscious at intervals, he passed quietly away about midnight.' (He had contracted diphtheria)
"No words that might might here be set down could evoke such feelings as must have welled up from a thousand hearts when the startling news was borne to them. It would ill become us to intrude on ground so sacred by any conventional phrases."