YOUR article, Hand of music-hall history emerges into spotlight (June 8), makes interesting reading and reminds us of the little known but marvellous pioneering role which Glasgow and Scotland played in the early hectic of X-rays and the development of radiology. The late nineteenth century was such an important period in the development of X-rays, so we would like to make some comments.

The Royal Infirmary's X-ray department was opened in 1896 (not in 1825 as stated in your article). Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-rays in November 1895, and while news flashed round the world, he sent copies of his paper to only two people in Britain - Lord Kelvin and Professor Shuster in Manchester.

Kelvin passed this on to Dr John McIntyre at the Royal Infirmary who had the world's first X-ray department up and running in March 1896. This says much for his drive and innovation. The story of Dr John McIntyre is superbly recorded by your columnist, the late Andy Young, during the department's centenary in 1996 (March 23, 1996).

We are unaware of patients being electrocuted by ''touching cables which carried upwards of 60,000 volts''. John McIntyre records that 55-60 volts stepped up through a transformer to 30,000 volts were in use in his department. Although kilovoltage increased to higher levels in use today we do not know of any Scottish patients who were killed or seriously injured. Sadly many pioneers suffered radiation damage. The late Professor Archie Young lost several fingers and seven Scottish martyrs developed fatal radiation-induced tumours including Dr James Riddell, Western Infirmary; Drs Hope Fowler, Dawson Turner, J W L Spence, and John Hall Edward, Edinburgh; George Pirie, Dundee, and Ironside Bruce of Aberdeen and London.

One further point: the X-ray signed Harry Lauder is remarkably similar to one given to J K Davidson by a good friend and colleague. Sir Harry Lauder was the greatest of Scottish entertainers who raised enormous funds for disabled war servicemen and charities. Prior to the NHS, hospitals depended greatly on the efforts of charities and celebrities to fund much needed projects. JKD was told that a new X-ray room in one Scottish hospital was funded by the immensely popular Sir Harry Lauder who was invited to open the new facility and to have his hand X-rayed, as was the custom (despite radiation hazards being known), and he signed the X-ray. Knowing of his superb Lauder collection, the X-ray was given to Jimmy Logan and is now in the Scottish Theatre Archive at Glasgow University.

Radiology has made enormous strides over the past 100 years with many new and sophisticated techniques - angiography, CT, MRI, ultrasound, etc. Radiation is strictly controlled. It is now a front-line specialty, modern imaging can do more than ever before, and patients have the highest expectations. The wonderful innovative role of these early pioneers must not be forgotten.

J K (Jake) Davidson (lately Consultant Radiologist, Glasgow Western Infirmary and Gartnavel General); John F Calder (Past President, Scottish Radiological Society). June 10.