Friederich Wilhelm Eurich 1867-1945

“It is the sorter’s duty to separate the various qualities of wool of which a fleece is composed, and to pick out foreign substances, such as locks, bits of rag and string, so often found within a fleece”

(Frederich Eurich, 1913)

Frederich Wilheim Eurich 1867-1945

Friederich Wilheim Eurich 1867-1945

Friederich Wilhelm Eurich was born 1867 in Germany in the town of  Chemnitz, Saxony.

His parents brought him to Bradford, England at the age of seven as his father took a job with a German textile firm in the commercial district Little Germany. Educated at Bradford Grammar School and studying later in Edinburgh, he would open up a general practice in Bradford in 1896. In the September of 1900 he married his wife in Bradford.

Because of a high degree of poverty and ill health in the city, he began to hold a free  Saturday morning surgery, at Bradford Royal Infirmary.  With the woollen industry been so central to Bradford’s success, there came numerous downsides to this prosperity. One of these was the spread of Cutaneous anthrax, commonly known as wool sorter’s disease. This had grown to be a widespread hazard in the Bradford’s textile mills, with infected wool been the major cause.

The use of Central Asian Alpaca’s  and mohair’s was the identified as the primary source of the disease [1]. In attempt  to offset the problem, the City Council opened a Pathological and Bacteriological Laboratory, appointing Dr Eurich as the chief bacteriologist. Originally located in the Technical College, the laboratory relocated to Morley Street, a short walk away in 1905. Becoming  The Bradford Anthrax Investigation Board, much would discovered  in the ensuing years.

Eurich developed a great level of expertise in the field of bacteriology, and often endangered his own health in the process of his research.  The investigation involved the bacteriological examination of about 14,000 samples of wool and hair. The virulent nature of the anthrax bacillus was a constant and serious danger to Dr Eurich. He also found that, ‘contrary to expectation, wools might be as dangerous when clean as when dirty’ [1].

A Wool Disinfecting Station was built and opened in Liverpool in 1918.  The Board would devise other medical initiatives in the fight against anthrax, which included ‘ improved treatment of the disease when contracted, and effectively reduced its fatality’ . Workers in wool owe a large debt of gratitude to him for his long-sustained work on the dreaded “Bradford disease”.

 On Friederich Eurich’s death in February 1945, the Yorkshire Observer recorded that he “did so much to conquer the disease of anthrax and his contributions in the cause of medicine were so outstanding.”

Friederich Eurich died in the Spring of 1945 in the New Forest area of Hampshire-Wiltshire border.

[1] Wikipedia article on Friederich Wilhelm Eurich

[2] Nature 140, 675-675 (16 October 1937)

Further reading

Dr Eurich of Bradford” by Margaret F Bligh, published by James Clark and Co., 1960.