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The history of Burnett Hodd & Tam

A family business

Nigel Burnett Hodd comes from a long tradition of optometry. Here’s the story, in his own words…

In 1905, my grandfather, George William and his partner Mr Burnett opened a new optical practice at 90 Moorgate, which quickly became a centre of innovation. George William designed spectacle frames and nose pieces – one of which was registered as the “Cupid”. At the outbreak of the First World War, Mr Burnett, who was a pacifist, disappeared to New Zealand and was never heard of again! In order to keep the Burnett Hodd name all children born into the Hodd family have been given the 3rd Christian name, Burnett. Times were hard in those war days and I was told as a child that the practice survived selling accessories such as batteries in the City.

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My father Frederick Arthur Burnett Hodd returned from World War II with his MBE to rejuvenate his father George William Hodd’s practice at 90 Moorgate and with a new interest in contact lenses. In the war it had been discovered that when the cockpit covers shattered, pieces of the new material called Perspex got into the pilot’s eyes. These pieces were found to be inert and caused no damage to the eye if left in situ for weeks at a time and so large contact lenses called sclerals began to be manufactured from Perspex. The pre-war contact lenses, invented in 1887, were made of glass!

My father, Freddie was at the forefront of this new technology and invented a contact lens design that we still use today called the Hodd Tapered Lens. So – when my grandfather, GW, died in 1960 Freddie asked two trusted colleagues to take over the Moorgate practice (Mr Barnes and Mr Dickins) so that that he could concentrate on his contact lens only practice in Glentworth Street, London W1 above George Nissels the famous contact lens manufacturer.

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Shortly after he moved to 7 Devonshire St where the practice is still located 60 years later.

My first job as a newly qualified Optometrist was in the Hodd Barnes and Dickens practice in Cheapside. I joined my father at Devonshire St in 1973 and he retired in 1974. We still have many patients who saw Freddie and one remembers George William being in the room when she having her eyes tested as a little girl.

In 1979 we formed No7 Contact Lenses in the basement at the practice, so that we could have contact lenses ready as quickly as possible for our patients. Eventually No7 out grew the practice and is now has a large factory in Hastings and is one of the best known Rigid Lens producers in the country.

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As a third generation optometrist, I enjoyed working with various colleagues over the years – in particular Gill Haig-Brown, Daina Gromadzki and David Ruston. More recently I have enjoyed seeing my own daughter, Dr Caroline Burnett Hodd, develop into a fine contact lens expert. Her colleague and fellow director, Connan Tam, has an extra degree in Orthoptics and our newest recruit, Nicola Wood, can treat diseases too with a particular interest in glaucoma.

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So – at the age of 68 with 46 years of experience behind me, I decided it was time to make way for the new generation of expertise represented by Caroline, Connan and Nicola.

The ethos of the practice remains the same to give you the best quality eye exam utilising the latest technology to ensure your eye health. This year it has been renamed Burnett Hodd & Tam Optometry to reflect the contribution of Mr Tam.

I retire a very proud man.

The Directors

Future Facing

For the first time in the history of Burnett Hodd there is balance of skills at the Directors level. This ensures that not only is the practice always at the forefront of new technologies and innovations, but can you can be sure you are looked after from the highest professionals throughout your experience.