Coventry’s polio epidemic and city’s unique contribution recalled 60 years on – as fight goes on – Coventry Observer

A DEVASTATING polio outbreak in Coventry 60 years ago has been recalled at a re-union of those who experienced it – and the unique contribution to the world made by the city.

The event at Coventry Transport Museum on Monday (September 11) was supported by the government’s international development department as the UK seeks to support global efforts to eradicate polio by 2020.

More than 100 people in Coventry were affected by the post-war polio epidemic in 1957 as the city was redeveloped and just as a vaccine was becoming available – the last significant outbreak in the city.

Patients who caught the polio virus could be left paralysed and unable to breathe without the help of an ‘iron lung’, a huge piece of medical machinery which did their breathing for them.

Captain GT Smith-Clarke, the man behind the Alvis Motor Car Company, would come into the wards at Whitley to demonstrate his new invention.

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