Heritage Centre Lates 2017

Join us for the next Lates event on the 19 May 2017. We welcome back author Dr Emily Mayhew, who will be talking about her new book (and signing copies too!) A Heavy Reckoning: War, Medicine and Survival in Afghanistan and Beyond, which will be launched in May 2017. A Heavy Reckoning explores trauma and medicine in wartime from the First World War to Afghanistan and modern rehabilitation centres.

Places at this special event are limited and tickets are just £15 (inc drinks, canapés and a private viewing of the latest exhibition The Price of a Mile. Book your ticket here.



Price of a Mile Exhibition Launch

Join us on the 7 October for a very special launch event…

The Heritage Centre’s latest exhibition, The Price of a Mile, explores the anaesthetics and pain relief during the Battle of the Somme, and the facilities and techniques used by medical teams in 1916.

The exhibition will be launched with a special talk and panel discussion, followed by a drinks reception and private view.

Hear from Dr Emily Mayhew, author of ‘Wounded’, the story of the journey from injury on the battlefield to recovery in Britain for the soldiers and people who cared for them on the frontline.

Prof Roger Kneebone, Professor of Surgical Education and Engagement Science at Imperial College, and Dr Jean Horton, retired anaesthetist and past President of the History of Anaesthesia Society, will be discuss medical care during the Battle of the Somme.

Sample a special canapé menu to commemorate the Battle of the Somme and the Allied combat nations.

Book your place today

Friday 7 October, 18.00-20.00

Tickets are £10 and include complimentary drinks and canapés and a private viewing of the exhibition, The Price of a Mile. Places are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, email heritage@aagbi.org

Happy World Anaesthesia Day!

Today is World Anaesthesia Day, and commemorates the first public demonstration of ether on the 16th of October 1846.

The demonstration took place at the Massachusetts General Hospital, now preserved as the Ether Dome, on a patient having a tumour removed from his neck. The surgeon was Dr John Collins Warren, and the ether was given by William T G Morton using an inhaler of his own design.

A replica of Morton’s inhaler, on display in the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre

Morton had studied at the Baltimore College of Dental School and Harvard Medical School, though left before graduating on both occasions. At Harvard, Morton had attended lectures given by Dr Charles T Jackson, in which he demonstrated that ether could cause a loss of consciousness. It seems that Jackson and his students missed any connection between ether and the potential for painless surgery, until on the 30th of September 1846 when Morton experimented with ether for a tooth extraction. The procedure was successful and Morton’s account was published in the newspapers. Just over a fortnight later, he was invited to give ether in a public demonstration. After the operation was successfully complete and the patient conscious, Warren reputedly turned to his audience to say ‘Gentlemen, this is no humbug!’

The First Operation under Ether by Robert Hinckley

Among this audience was another surgeon, Dr Jacob Bigelow. He wrote of the events to a friend in London, and within a few days of his letter reaching England, ether was being used on surgical and dental patients in London.

London Hospitals: 1914 & 2014

After the scale of casualties in the First World War became clear, many hospitals were taken over by the military, with anything from a single ward to the entire building used to treat injured soldiers. Many of these hospitals returned to civilian use after the war, and are still operational today.

This interactive map shows the hospitals in London that treated injured soldiers in the First World War, and which are still in use a century later. Scroll through to read about the history of these sites and how they were used in the War.

If you have any stories about the history of your hospital, or would like to add any information to the map, please contact us.

World War Two Objects

The Anaesthesia Heritage Museum has been very popular lately and has received several donations of books and objects over the last few weeks.

As we will start a series of exhibitions looking at anaesthesia in wartime in a few months time, we are very grateful to the family of Dr O P Dinnick for their recent donation.

Dr Dinnick served as an anaesthetist in the Second World War in the RAF and was posted in North Africa and Italy, supporting the 8th Army. The donated objects are a small medical kit, made by the Army Medical Service. Designed to be worn on a belt, it contains forceps, tweezers, a tiny thermometer and glass ampoules of catgut and surgical thread. There is also a china Red Cross feeding cup, which was used with patients who were unable to leave their beds.

Army Medical Kit LDBOC 2014.3
Dr Dinnick’s Army Medical Kit, c.1939-1947
Army Medical Kit LDBOC 2014.3.1
Some of the kit’s contents
Mixed with water and methylated spirit, this tube made a tincture of iodine to sterilise the skin.
Catgut, sterilised in alcohol, was used for stitching wounds. This vial was manufactured in Milan.
Feeding Cup LDBOC 2014.2
The Red Cross feeding cup
Feeding Cup LDBOC 2014.2.2
The feeding cup from above

New Exhibition

The Heritage Centre may be closed for a few more days, but you can now see our new exhibition at BMA House in Tavistock Square!


The display looks at Charles King, the founder of the Anaesthesia Museum, and includes some of his original equipment, inventions and photos. Though not a doctor, Charles King had a huge impact on anaesthesia in the 20th century and worked with many well-known figures to develop life-saving equipment.


Images from Charles King display
Images from Charles King display
The Charles King Display
The Charles King Display
Facepieces and Inhalers
Facepieces and Inhalers
Facepieces, Inhalers and Anaesthetic Apparatus
Facepieces, Inhalers and Anaesthetic Apparatus
McKesson Model J anaesthesia machine and Minnitt gas/air machine
McKesson Model J anaesthesia machine and Minnitt gas/air machine