Willow Bank in School Lane was a “doctor’s house” from 1873, (Buryfield was another). A succession of Upton doctors lived and had their surgeries there. The last two are featured in displays in the Museum: Dr Ballinger in that about the Second World War and Dr Astley Cooper with some of his equipment.
In 1937 Dr Owen David Ballinger purchased Willow Bank and the practice. He had been brought up in Wales: his father, Sir John Ballinger, was the first Librarian of the National Library of Wales., He was educated at Llandovery College and then at Aberystwyth. After war service during which he was wounded, he qualified as a doctor at Oxford. He worked first at hospitals in Newport and Bradford and then, as a G.P in Shipley before moving to Upton. It is sometimes difficult to understand the reason for an experienced doctor to move to Upton: in Ballinger’s case it was straightforward. He already had strong family connections with the area through his wife, who died in 1938. He later married Mary Lloyd, the daughter of the Vicar of Norton near Evesham. Ballinger was highly regarded, especially for his wartime work as County Surgeon of the St John Ambulance Brigade, but his time in Upton was short: he died at the age of 48 in 1947.
Willow Bank and the practice were bought by Dr Thomas Astley Cooper. Although he shared his name with a distinguished early nineteenth century surgeon who was awarded a baronetcy after removing a growth from the head of George IV, there was no family connection. Upton’s Astley Cooper was the son of a pharmacist in Kent and had qualified in Medicine at Birmingham University. He had practised in Quinton and Wolverhampton before moving to Upton. In Upton he involved himself in the life of the community, becoming Chairman of the Parish Council. At Willow Bank the billiard room was divided up into consulting rooms and waiting room as, with the introduction of the National Health Service, trainees and then assistants came to the practice. Dr David Jennings arrived in 1960, first as an assistant and then, in 1961, became a partner. In 1966 the government introduced a new charter for General Practice which included financial provision for the building of new surgeries and for the employment of reception staff, secretaries and practice nurses. This made it sensible for the two GP practices in Upton to join together in 1967 and build a new purpose built surgery in the bottom of Dr Lancaster’s garden at Buryfield, which was also in School Lane.