Thursday, July 18, 2024

Newbury honours PC Albert Alexander – the first person in the world to be treated with penicillin

Newbury Town Council has announced the forthcoming unveiling of a blue plaque to Police Constable Albert Alexander (1897-1941), who was the first person in the world to be treated with Penicillin.  Born in Woodley, he served in the Berkshire Constabulary in Newbury from 1926 to 1929 and at the time of his death was stationed in Abingdon.  In 1924 he married Edith Mary Deacon in St Mary’s, Speenhamland, and now lies buried beside her in Newtown Road Cemetery.

The blue plaque will be located at the entrance of Carnarvon Place, Andover Road, and will be unveiled at 11.00 on Tuesday 25th May by the Mayor of Newbury, Cllr Billy Drummond.

PC Alexander was on duty in Southampton during the blitz, when he was injured in an air raid and developed blood poisoning.  He was transferred to the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, where it was decided to treat him with the newly discovered antibiotic Penicillin.  He showed immediate improvement, but sadly not enough Penicillin could be isolated in time to complete the cure and he died on 15th March 1941.  His place in the history of antibiotics is secure.

It was decided to locate the plaque at the site of the former Newbury District Hospital because of the medical connection, not because PC Alexander was treated there for his injury, and so that the plaque will be seen by many members of the public.