A History of McTimoney Chiropractic

John McTimoney was one of four children born 9th March 1914 in Edgbaston, Birmingham. His father died when he was only nine months old. Aged eleven, John McTimoney went to the Birmingham School of Art. There he learned engraving and silver-smithing. His sister suffered polio in childhood and he used to help her by massaging her limbs with olive oil. After marrying Hilda he moved to Oxfordshire and made pottery and did engraving. Poverty also forced him to work on local farms. Later, John McTimoney became an illustrator and drew exploded views of components for Spitfire aeroplanes at Vickers, Armstrong in Southampton.Whilst working as a farm labourer during World War Two, John McTimoney fell from a ladder. After this fall walking became difficult as did using both arms. X-Rays did not reveal the cause of the problem. Fortunately, he was introduced to Chiropractic Doctor Ashford in Birmingham who had been trained by the founder of Chiropractic, DD Palmer, in the USA. John McTimoney’s first Chiropractic treatment consisted of a single adjustment to the top vertebrae in his neck, C1, also known as the “Atlas”. This is the so-called “hole-in-one” adjustment, after which John McTimoney was able to walk five miles home. Previously, this would have been impossible. He continued to receive treatment for three years and he longed to become a Chiropractor but there was at that time no Chiropractic college in the UK.

Eventually, in 1948, John McTimoney was able to become the second pupil of Chiropractic Doctor Mary Walker and he qualified in 1950. Mary Walker, 1880-1958, had started her professional career as a nursing matron and she had converted her north Oxfordshire house into a nursing home. After a car accident she was treated for spinal injury by a Palmer-trained Chiropractor. She was very impressed and in the 1930s she went to the U.S. to train with BJ Palmer, the son of the founder of Chiropractic, DD Palmer. Mary Walker was a star pupil. She returned to the UK in 1936 to set up her own practice in Oxford. In addition to Chiropractic technique she also used Bach flower remedies, homeopathy, and radionics. Also, at first as a diagnostic aid, she used a neurocalometer, a device to detect inflammation. However, she came to the opinion that such devices were less effective than thought and that palpation was a quicker and more accurate way of detecting skeletal misalignment. Her first pupil, starting in 1947, was Joan Nind. Her second and last pupil was John McTimoney. He couldn’t even pay his fees, but Mary Walker trained him anyway. Mary Walker had hoped to establish a Chiropractic college but this dream was only to be realised by her student, John McTimoney.

John McTimoney qualified in 1950 and started his own practice in 1951 in Banbury. Mary Walker helped him to set up, providing him with essential equipment he could not of otherwise afford. For a while he had to supplement his income teaching carpentry at a local school. One of his first patients was his wife, Hilda. She had a serious problem with her arm and John McTimoney was able to treat her and enable her to continue her work as a silver-smith. John McTimoney’s reputation grew and he began to attract patients from all over the UK and abroad.

In 1954, John McTimoney formulated a method of Chiropractic analysis and treatment for animals. He was the first UK Chiropractor to do this. Treating animals started when a horse owning patient had to cancel an appointment because an eleven year old horse was lame. The owner suggested John McTimoney have a look at the animal which, after Chiropractic treatment, went on to have a good recovery. From this beginning, John McTimoney developed a whole-body treatment for horses, dogs, cats and cows. Unfortunately, this new approach to treatment aggrieved the veterinary profession on the basis that UK law forbade non-veterinary surgeons from treating animals. A court case started to develop as John McTimoney defended his position, claiming he was not practising as a veterinary surgeon but had evolved an entirely new Chiropractic treatment. Quentin Hogg (later Lord Hailsham) was tasked to act for John McTimoney. The cost was to be borne by prominent horsemen David Broome and Ted Edgar. However, the stress of the case and John McTimoney’s overworking led to John McTimoney having a heart attack in the very week the case was meant to be heard.

John McTimoney’s first severe heart attack was in 1969. His son Russell carried on his father’s practice in Banbury while his father recovered. The heart attack does seem to have rather focused minds on the need to make John McTimoney’s approach to Chiropractic more available and to safeguard it’s survival. In 1972, after twenty-one years in practice, John McTimoney founded the Oxfordshire School of Chiropractic. After a further heart attack in 1974, John McTimoney devoted himself full-time to his School. When he died in 1980, the School had qualified thirteen Chiropractors. Over the years, the name of the School went through a number of changes from the Oxfordshire School of Chiropractic to the John McTimoney School of Pure Chiropractic to the McTimoney Chiropractic School Limited to the McTimoney Chiropractic College to finally (at the time of writing) to The McTimoney College of Chiropractic. Alongside the University of South Wales and Anglo-European College of Chiropractic, the McTimoney College of Chiropractic is one of only three United Kingdom institutions to offer degrees recognised by the General Chiropractic Council, and the only one to specialise in programmes for those wishing to study while working.

In 1986, Hugh Corley, who had been a member of the original class trained and qualified by John McTimoney in 1975, founded his own School. This was called the Witney School of Chiropractic. Corley had developed, in conjunction with Shelagh James-Hudson, his own variation on the McTimoney method. It is understood he had large hands and found it difficult to deliver McTimoney adjustments in the usual manner. To solve this problem he developed a new “flicking” technique. Secondly, John McTimoney’s method is largely one of thrusting adjustment with a few mobilisations, such as for the feet, arms and hands. In contrast, the Corley method makes more use of a mobilisation approach where the adjustment is done in a series of multiple “pulsed” thrusts with slightly more emphasis on the final impulse. The Corley school changed its name to the Oxford College of Chiropractic but did not survive the increasing regulatory burden which came with the academic supervisory role assumed by the General Chiropractic Council. The Corley method students were integrated with the regular McTimoney College of Chiropractic students around the year 2000. The Corley approach to adjustment and manipulation is still taught to McTimoney College graduates from time to time.

Andrew Hunter DC graduated from the McTimoney Chiropractic College in 2002 and has been in practice in London ever since in Canary Wharf, The City (near Moorgate) and in Blackheath (SE3). He also has training in the McTimoney-Corley method of Chiropractic and can be contacted for appointments on 07855 916 602.

McTimoney Chiropractic: The First 25 Years by Stan Harding; 1997; Published by the McTimoney Chiropractic Association. Stan Harding was one of John McTimoney’s original class of ten students in 1972. After the death of John McTimoney, his wife asked Stan Harding to take over the running of the McTimoney School and Stan Harding played a major role in the survival of the McTimoney Technique.

The McTimoney College of Chiropractic: www.mctimoney-college.ac.uk=

The Essentials of McTimoney Chiropractic: The Gentle Art of Whole Body Alignment by Elizabeth Andrews & Anthea Courtney; 1999; Published by Thorsons.