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Yorkshire, it is said, is ‘a country within a county’. It boasts the famous limestone scenery of the Yorkshire dales, the popular historic city of York, beautiful coastline including traditional fishing ports such as Whitby and the stereotypically taciturn Yorkshire people. West Yorkshire accounts for half its population (figure 1). Leeds, now a thriving commercial centre, is the largest city with a population of 800,000. Wakefield was once a powerful hub of the coal industry. Although it lies within the ‘rhubarb triangle’, a neurologist with a diagnostic dilemma requesting a serum rhubarb test is likely to receive short shrift by our laboratory!
Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield (figure 2) was built on the grounds of the West Yorkshire Lunatic asylum (1818-1995) and thus has an illustrious history of neuroscience research. One of the founding fathers of epileptology and neurological localisation, Sir David Ferrier, did much of his experimental work here. Along with the asylum director Sir James Crichton-Browne, John Hughlings-Jackson (of ‘Jacksonian march’ fame and born only a short cycle ride from the author's house) and Sir John Bucknill founded the journal The Medical Reports of the West-Riding Lunatic Asylum which later evolved into the journal Brain. Nearby is the town of Pontefract, famous (some would say!) due to the production of Pontefract cakes. These discs of liquorice are seen by locals as a tonic for various ailments, but we have come across cases of over-indulgence resulting in generalised weakness (resulting from hypokalaemia) and severe hypertension due to the active ingredient glycyrrhizic acid.
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