I: This is Dr Michael Ward at the Association of Anaesthetists, the date today is the 26th of March 2015 and I’m interviewing Eric Hayward. Eric, let’s start right at the beginning and tell me a little bit about your parents, what did your father do?
P: My father, from the 1920s he was a clerk in the post office but got elevated to what they called writing duties; that was designing systems for post offices.
I: And where was he born?
P: He was born in Chelmsford.
I: And your mother, what did she do?
P: She was born in Chelmsford –
I: She was in Chelmsford and what did she do?
P: Well, she was mother.
I: When were you born?
P: 1st July 1930.
I: So I think that makes you 85? No, not quite, 84 at the moment?
P: Yes, 84.
I: Where were you born?
P: In Romford, Essex.
I: I know it well. OK, brothers, sisters?
P: Yes, I’ve got one brother.
I: Older or younger?
P: Older, he’s 88.
I: Right. Did you have a happy childhood?
P: A bit mixed really because my father was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from the First World War so he was not easy to live with, be honest, one of these things that happens.
I: And you went to school in Romford?
P: I went to school in Romford, I started at a place called Havering Road School, just off the A127 in junior school there and then the War started in 1939 and of course, within a short space of time we lost all the male teachers, they had all joined up to go in the RAF and… it’s in the write-up, most of them were killed in about six or seven weeks, eight weeks, they were dead. So we ended up with old lady teachers who used to go sleep at their desks!
P: It was pathetic.
I: So that was your first school, your primary school?
P: That was the first one, yeah. Then I started… I had appendicitis when I was there, when I was eight years of age. Do you want me to tell you about that?
I: If it’s relevant to the story, if you think –
P: Well, it’s relevant to the fact that it was what inspired me to want to get into anaesthesia, if I could do anything to help people suffering.
I: OK, so 1938 I think you said, you had appendicitis and what sort of anaesthetic do you think you had?
P: Well, I had ether, it was ether then and I remember being catheterised and iodine being… just a little drop of iodine with a gum elastic catheter to stimulate my bladder for after the operation to make sure that I would pass water. The anaesthetist was fantastic, in fact he was the local dentist, to be honest, but he was good and everything they did they couldn’t have done better because they had no antibiotics in those days. And I had this anaesthetic, I remember him doing this and then I looked round and I saw the mask coming over on me and I looked at the anaesthetic apparatus and there was bubbles and that, so it was a water site feed flow meter with obviously an ether vaporiser which was probably made by Coxeter’s and all these pineapple things, I didn’t understand, I just saw these cylinders on it and it was all red rubber. It was all made from laboratory rubber tubing which was perished, which was all stuck together with sticky tape. That horrified me because I was used to repairing my own bicycle inner tubes and realised what perished rubber was –
I: But you were only eight?
P: I was eight, a bit of a fanatic in as far as aeroplanes were concerned and all that sort of thing. So I watched this and of course I went out and I had no fighting the anaesthetic really, I just… that was it, I gave to it. When I came round about four in the morning, there was noise in the operating theatre, in the wards rather, and then they would start doing the dressings and about ten o’clock in the morning, this was the one that really got me, was we had probably about ten people that had appendicitis. There was everybody with appendicitis, bad diet, all the rest of it. And then there was a partition bit with a large opening, it was glass, and I was within about ten feet, one bed’s width, of this partition, and in there there were mastoid cases, and there was a boy there and I’m looking at him and he’s having a dressing taken off his head. His head was so swollen it wasn’t true, there was no antibiotics, and they were trying to get this dressing off him and he was screaming like you’ve never heard screams. And they got it to a certain point and they had to stop, he was… his screams became weaker and weaker and then they left him and he was being cuddled by a nurse <sniffs and pauses> –
I: It’s upsetting you.
P: Yeah, and… <pause> she got to the last bit of dressing coming off and she left it. His pain became a whimper and the other nurses stopped and they were all looking, tears rolling down their face, and then all this dressing fell away and all this yellow and green mess was falling out of a hole in his head, because I’d never seen it. He was right there and he died in her arms.
P: And I’ve never, ever forgotten it.
I: No, I’m not surprised.
P: And after that, that gave me inspiration, I thought if I could ever get into this, I will do it and I had an ambition then to try to make at least the equipment, I knew I wasn’t going to be a doctor or anything like that, at least I could… because I always had an inventive mind, etc., but if I ever got the chance to get into this, into engineering, I would do my utmost to make it safe and predictable so at least all of them were the same. And anaesthetists could go from one machine to another and he would know it would work the same and that was what the ambition was and I think I got there by the time of 1986.
I: Well, not bad. Thank you for sharing that story. Are you alright, do you want to have a pause?
I: Let’s move on then, you survived your anaesthetic and your appendectomy, have you had other anaesthetic since then, by the way?
P: Yes 13, I had an anaesthetic when I was probably five years old not methyl… chlorine or something, when they took some milk teeth out of me when I had, some loose teeth –
I: So that was before?
P: Yes, but probably with a Schimmelbusch mask or one of the masks like that, just enough, and they took those teeth out, so I had a little bit of experience before the appendicitis.
P: And then, of course, my father had been anaesthetised several times in the Army in the First World War and he seemed to know all about it, you know it was, for them mum and dad, to get some sleep at night, I mean I cried with my teeth business and they had them taken out and I think I had six taken out. Anyway, we got over that.
But the point was that I got to a . when I had a terrible accident, I fell off my bike and I broke both arms, bad, greenstick fractures and I broke the wrist joint.
I: When was this?
P: About 1938, it was just before I had appendicitis, I think?
I: I see. [8:10] –
P: So I had both arms out of action. Now in those days we went down to the doctor’s and all he did was he bandaged them up with wet bandages and there was no real attempt to straighten them or anything like that and so I had bent arms.
I: Having survived that operation you went back to school eventually and now what about your secondary school?
P: Well then at secondary school I went to and I started to develop –
I: But where was that, do you remember?
P: That was at Petitts Lane Senior Boys School in Romford. And I went there and pretty well immediately, I’d started ear infections and that went on for all the time I was at school and I lost about a third of my schooling time, being gradually pushed down the grades from A to B, C and I got under a C grade because I was so far behind. That class was about 50, 48-52 boys in a science room and the trouble was we had various mixtures of people in there, some that were at various stages of health, like me, others were thick as two posts. We had a teacher, he was a Canadian, ex-Commando PT instructor, but he had stomach ulcers so he was taken out of the army and given general teaching. He was a nice person, he really was good, he had 50-odd boys to look after and I was with him for the rest of the time until I left at 14.
I: You left school at 14?
I: When you left school did you have any ideas what line you wanted to go into?
P: I was always interested in science, I was always interested in scientific things. I think when I was probably… as far as I can go back to remember we always had Encyclopaedia Britannica and I used to look through this avidly as a boy, a young boy, and I could see aeroplanes and I could see submarines and battle ships and all sorts of things but the aeroplanes were the ones that got me. And suddenly my father said, ‘Well, we want to go up to Maylands Airfield, they’ve opened an airfield up the road,’ it was about two miles. So we went up to this airfield and there’s an autogyro and a biplane, I think it was probably a Tiger Moth or something.
I: An autogyro is what I now think of as a helicopter –
P: Yes, that’s right, that sort of thing. Anyway they were doing flights there for a price and I got a flight round in the autogyro and they just did one circuit of this field and came and landed. But I was fascinated because there were two dials in the front, I think one was altitude and one was air speed probably, but I just was so full of it. The next thing I knew we went to the Hendon Airfield and to an air exhibition there for flying and I couldn’t get enough of this –
P: Just before that we had won the Schneider Trophy and that was full of it and I saw it on the newsreel at the cinema and I was so fascinated by the speed and all that, what was it 380-odd miles an hour? So I was really enthusiastic about aeroplanes, and then when we went to Hendon there was one experimental plane they brought out there and this thing crashed, right in front of us, it got into a stall. It was badly designed, even I could see it was wrong, aerodynamically it just didn’t look right at all. Anyway, it crashed and I didn’t know it at the time but the pilot was killed and it was within 100 yards, straight in front of me it came down, bang! It was too light on the nose, not enough power, but too light on the nose and it was doing this, he couldn’t control it and the next thing it went straight in, only from about 50 or 60 feet, but enough to kill him.
And they resurrected that aeroplane and they flew it at Stansted, at Duxford when I was up there, because I was always up there [at Duxford], about 4 or 5 years ago. They got this thing there to fly it. I was over the fence and to get to this pilot to say, ‘For God’s sake!’ you know, and he’d taken off. And he got in the same position, stalling, but he managed to side slip it and land it but it was lethal.
I: What sort of aeroplane was it?
P: It was some sort of de Havilland, something or other, which was an experimental aeroplane.
I: So would it be fair to say that you fell in love with aeroplanes –
P: Yes –
I: – or just machines in general?
P: Yes, so when I got… So engineering was a natural thing, I was always making things from when I was a little, tiny tot, I was always making things. The first model I ever tried to make was a model of the Schneider Trophy plane and my next door neighbour gave me a hobbies kit you could buy from Gamages and a little drill and saw and things like that and my father gave me some odd tools as well, because he had originally started as a sheet metal worker and panel beater before the First World War and so he had a certain amount of tools. And I used to get into all these models in the shed I would make whatever I could out of pieces of timber –
I: So you had a shed in the backyard or in the garden?
P: Well, it was a garden –
I: In Romford –
P: A garden shed where we kept the wine my father used to make. And then of course there was a little bench and I used to work in there.
I: And you were making these out of metal?
P: No, making them out of wood. And then, of course, I made the wings and how did I shape them and things like that, ‘How do I get this curve shape?’ I remember this, I’ve a photographic mind, I could look at that Schneider Trophy aeroplane in the newspaper, I knew it, and I could pick all this up and so I’d make the wings, so what did I make it out of? My next-door-neighbour came out with some pieces of orange box, which was quite good timber, actually, and so I’d cut a wing, I’ve made the wing and how do I round it on the end? So I found I had a file but then I remember sitting there and on the concrete path rubbing this wing on the path to get the shape and that was when he got me the hobbies kit and he bought me that, Mr Armitage, he was an estate manager, looking after people’s estates, he was a clever guy. Anyway, he helped me and used to give me lots of nails and screws and panel pins and things like that, I was keen. So model making was a natural thing, so when the War came along I was into model aircraft and we had a hobbies area… a shop in the town and we could get little plans of Spitfires and Hurricanes and all the other aircraft, Lancasters and the rest of it and I made them all.
I: When you left school at 14, what did you do then?
P: I was directed to labour.
I: Explain what that means.
P: Well, because it was in the Wartime you couldn’t go and just get a job where you wanted to, you had to go to the Labour Exchange, what they called the Labour Exchange, Job Centre today. And you went there and they gave you a job and you had to take whatever they gave you and you had to go and do it.
I: And what did they give you?
P: They gave me a job working in an the aircraft components and tool company, that was pieces of aeroplanes… aileron levers and things like that, and I worked on this at a place called… It’s in that other write up, Cranham Gauge and Tool Company in Romford. We also made gauges there, these were gap gauges for measuring, as well, I was only there about six weeks but I absolutely loved it. I was into cutting bits of metal which I’d never had a chance before –
I: But why did you only do it for six weeks?
I: Why only for six weeks?
P: Because I moved onto a better job.
I: Oh, you were allowed to move on?
P: You had to get permission, you had to go to the Labour Exchange and worry them to see what else had turned up and that took me to a company called Globe Pneumatic Engineering –
I: Globe Pneumatic? –
P: – Pneumatic Engineering at Chadwell Heath. There they did everything pneumatic, pneumatic hoists, all the equipment for the docklands, etc., they were making drills, pneumatic drills, the big, road drills and that were made there. When they were working on the Burma Road, that was before I got there, but they made things like that. Also when they were making airfields and breaking up anything, they used to make these road drills.
I: Now let me get the dates right, this would have been about ’44, ’45, something like that, just after –
P: I was there when the War was on, so for about the last 9 months of the War, and I went through for about 9 or 10 months at Globe Pneumatic Engineering and then I left there just at the time when the War was just… finished and I got into a job with a friend of the family, a chap named Bert Harris. The job was with M & I E Ltd –
I: And where were they based?
P: They were based then in no. 12 New Cavendish Street, head office, the showroom and the factory was in Hampstead Road in what was called Sandland’s Yard, it was a building, an entrance into the building where it was originally a furniture manufacturer. We had four shops, a central staircase and yes four workshops.
I: So what made you go and work for M & I, did you know then that it was an anaesthetic or was going to go into anaesthetic –
P: Yes, I was told by this chap, Bert Harris, he said to me, ‘It’s developing an anaesthetic machine for the Amalgamated Dental Engineering Industries at Walton-on-Thames.’ Well, I didn’t know anything about them (ADCO) and it was going to be called Jectaflo. You’ve got one downstairs, part of one. Anyway, we worked on Jectaflo. I went in there first of all as a machinist, working on making the parts. Being that I’d started using a lathe when I was 12 with my neighbours when I was making my model aircraft, I was making the wheels the spools and nose cones and things like that that were round, I could turn them, so I learned a bit about turning before I went to work. Cranham Gauge gave me a kick off there, so learning about turning and machining. And then I went to Globe Pneumatic and they really looked after me there because I was really given a standing ovation when I left, a real, good send-off, because some of the workers thought I’d saved their lives, during an air raid. Anyway, that’s in that other article, you’ll read that.
And when I got to M & I E the War had finished and we looked at Jectaflo. There was Mr Talley, Henry Talley was the big boss and his brother was Fred Talley, he was always known as Fred, ever such a nice chap. I can’t tell you how nice both of them were to me, they were lovely people. So we worked on this Jectaflo and every time I turned round I first of all started machining parts, it was quickly seen that I could set the machines, so I set the machine for somebody else to operate. I was only… well, as old as I was –
I: 15, 16?
P: Yeah, I could do some of these tasks, no bother, and I could also sharpen tools. I was very useful with my hands, because the model aircraft I made I won all sorts of competitions with those inter-schools things in the Wartime and also War Ships Week, I made these models of the battleships, this length you know, all the guns and everything. And I’d only been there probably about six months and I said, ‘Will it be alright,’ to Henry Talley, ‘If I made a model diesel engine in my own time for my aeroplanes?’ So he said, ‘Yes, OK.’ So I made a model, I copied a model “ED” or “Mills” diesel engine, I think it was a 1.5 cc. This was a little engine. So I made this engine and they didn’t take any notice, they probably didn’t know what I was doing and I fitted it up in a vice on one of the benches on a trial wood block first and got this thing going and it started almost immediately. And the noise, of course – open exhaust – was horrific, and that was in the workshop! Who came running in wondering what the hell was going on, Henry Talley and his brother and there’s this 10” propeller whizzing round, you know, at a high rate of knots, and the noise… And they were absolutely enthralled. And he took one look at it and he said, ‘What did you copy it from?’ I said, ‘From this one.’ And he looked at it, he said, ‘I can’t really tell the difference between the one you bought and the one you’ve made!’ And he said, ‘The best thing for you to do, I want you to come out and work direct for me and Fred on the development side of Jectaflo.’
So I was in there making parts, special parts to develop this Jectaflo dental anaesthetic machine because the Amalgamated Dental Company didn’t have a dental anaesthetic machine. They had 5,400 workers, I think, total, there was about 1,200 worked for prosthetic products at Kentish Town which was DeTrey. I think they called the company DeTrey? They (ADCO) moved the prosthetic products from Kentish Town down to Addlestone in Surrey and then the main factory was a Churchfield Road, in Walton-on-Thames. And the reason it was called DeTrey, this is really weird, is that you know you get the dental impression tray, you put the wax in and it’s that U-shape, it’s a U-shape like that and you put the tray in. If you put a line down there you’ve got a D, so it was a DeTrey. So we had all those people, 3,200 of them at Churchfield Road Manufacturing, but out of all the things they did, they [ADCO] didn’t have a dental anaesthetic machine, so they had a piece missing,. Mitrex syringes hadn’t come in with Novacain at that time, I did work on a bit of that later on.
So we were doing Jectaflo and of course the first thing they couldn’t get right was the oxy-percentage valve. So I worked on that and I then modified it slightly, tweaked it here and there, they just let me get on with it. And then Fred came up, Fred Talley, he said, ‘How are you getting on?’ So I said, ‘Good.’ He said, ‘What did you do?’ So I said, ‘I’ve taken all the dimensions, I’ve drawn all these bits, these are the changes you need.’ Originally the valve was designed by a chap who came from the aviation industry ‘cause after the War these people were surplus. Henry Talley was a good draughtsman, so was Fred, they were good at that. So I got the oxygen percentage valve sorted out, then I did the N2O side and I sorted that out. And then I found there was trouble with the regulators and so it went on. It was a walking disaster this machine, it was awful. And it was all based on the McKesson Dental Anaesthetic Machine.
Now the McKesson machine, I didn’t know much about it until I walked round to Devonshire Street, because I used to also go down to New Cavendish Street from the factory, sometimes worked down in the basement of no. 12 New Cavendish Street, and because I came across A Charles King, Charlie King, in Devonshire Street There was this old man standing in the showroom looking at this [McKesson machine] I’m also looking at this McKesson machine and I am thinking ‘that’s similar to the Jectaflow’, only it’s in the open now, no casing, because McKesson is very similar in its function. Then I found out, of course, Henry Talley worked for a Charles King originally, he broke away in 1938. And I went down a few times, there was Charlie King and I’m looking at the equipment and I don’t know if he came to the door or I went in and I was looking at this and I said, ‘I’ve been working on Jectaflo, he knew all about it, he was going, ‘Oh, yes!’ And he was ever such a kind person –
I: Charles King? –
P: Charlie King was an absolute delight and he said, ‘What are you doing?’ So I said, ‘I work at M& I E…’ etc.
I: Were you 20 by then?
P: No, I was…
I: Still in your teens?
P: I was in my teens, I was probably about 17. But I was so enthusiastic he asked me in and I asked him a bit about it, but I’d never got to grips with one of those, McKesson M/C, but he had modified the basic McKesson into something better. I don’t know what he did but it was a better piece of equipment. And of course he was working with Dr Magill, Ivan Magill then, he was not Sir at that time, and a few others used to drop in and people like… we always called him Sam, his name was Sammie Cardon, he was a lovely person. So was Ivan Magill as a person, he was just a delight. So I nearly went to work for King but not quite. And so then we were –
I: Is that something you regret, looking back on it?
P: Not really because he was then well in retiring age really, I suppose the others at M&IE were more my age and I was in the middle of something like Jectaflo which was something which I could then understand and what alarmed me was that they really didn’t have the equipment to test it, only by inhaling it. But I can remember Henry, Mr Talley, sitting in the workshop when I went in one day from where the machine shop side into where he was doing the assembling and testing and Henry Talley’s sitting there looking ashen and he’s gripping an anatomical face mask. And he’s twiddling the dials on it and the cylinders are about that much up with frost –
I: Now, let me ask you, you were almost totally self-taught it seems to me, did you have any formal apprenticeship or anything like that?
P: No, because in those days after the War, you see the nearest technical college I could get to was at Dagenham, over five miles away, so it was out of my reach because of the work time, the time I had to get to work, etc. It was learning on the job in those days. And people were very good that way, they’d teach you this, that and the other, help you with your maths and things like that. So you got into that and I bought a machineries handbook, I use the same book today!… So that was the way in which you learnt on the job in pneumatics but the pneumatics company was invaluable because they used every type of device pneumatically, valves and fine adjustment valves and hoists and pistons. So all this fell into the anaesthesia field, so it was good grounding.
So from there with Talley… so by that time I was about seventeen-and-a-half, the Amalgamated Dental Company had pensioned him off because they’d loaned the money, it was a lot of money in those days, £35,000, to develop this machine and they weren’t getting very far, so they took it to Walton-on-Thames. That left us just with the anaesthetic machines which was pretty sparse, and the company made a lot of people redundant but they didn’t make me redundant because Fred Talley said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t get rid of Hayward,’ to this new chap, his name was Edwin Childerhouse. He came from BOC, he was the top salesman for BOC. I would say he was a very, very astute business man, there’s no doubt about it, he was very good.
I: But let me make it clear for myself, Edwin Childerhouse came in as the Manager of M & I E –
P: Yeah, he came in as the manager of M & I E –
I: But they hadn’t been bought by BOC, at all?
P: Oh no –
I: It was still a separate company?
P: Yes, M & I E were owned then by the Amalgamated Dental & Engineering Industries.
P: So we continued working on M&IE’s equipment but we also then were manufacturing the Boyle-type 5 anaesthetic machines and the vaporisers which was a control from the front, it had a cone and just a lever on the front. That was being produced by Henry Talley, that was his invention as far as I know, it wasn’t very good actually, to be honest, the porting was wrong which we modified [30:49] and I in the last year before I went into the RAF, a few people arrived. One was called Harry Hitchcock, he was a man about 63 and he came originally from Coxeter’s, he was a Coxeter man and he was one of their top instrument makers or engineers. He came in because originally Coxeter’s were at Caledonian Road by King’s Cross. The Government just before the War moved them out to Surrey, at Malden in Surrey, to get the industry away from London. Then, of course, they got in trouble because the Government kept ordering machines from them, anaesthetist machines from Coxeter’s but they didn’t pay them, But they had to supply!
P: So they got into financial problems. They were held to ransom, they had to by Government Order in those days, produce these anaesthetic machines. And then the Government came round and suggested that what they should do was approach BOC and sell the company to BOC. Now that would have been just about 1939, 1940, probably 1940. So all these people like Harry Hitchcock who was one of their top men … the name of the top man was Tremlett. I’d never met him but Tremlett was really their top man, Hitchcock was the second. They came into M&IE because they lived at Malden in Surrey and they were travelling to Edmonton every day, so if they travelled to Hampstead Road, London, it wasn’t so bad, half the distance to travel, so we had them. Then we had another chap came in from Coxeter’s named George Diamond, he was good, a good manufacturer, he used to make the three-way stopcocks for their dental anaesthetic machines mainly. Then we had Bill Lake, another one, he was an assembler. Another one called Ernest Crumplin who had two thumbs on one hand here, he had this one out in a ‘V’.
I: Could be useful!
P: Yes, well that’s what it was, he used to hold things down and he’d go like that to people at times.
P: But the clever one was Hitchcock but he told me a lot about the business because we were never as good as Coxeter’s and it was quite true, they were really good in their day. Coxeter’s started about 1837 or something like that and they made lots of instruments and that before they did anaesthesia and they were making things like bullet removers and things like that. Anyway, Hitchcock was obviously born by that time… so he was probably about 17 or 18 when the First World War started and he knew… He talked to me, I asked him about the earlier anaesthetic machines, I was always interested what happened there. And there was this machine, I’ll look at it on the internet, the Gwath –
P: The Gwathmey machine. He never ever, ever mentioned that name, he knew Boyle and Marshall, he talked to me about them –
I: I wonder why?
P: I think this Gwathmey machine, whatever it is, I got a feeling it’s a bit of a smoke screen because I think it’s an American… they always want to claim it, there was nothing about that. So when it came down to it, Hitchcock was a good source of information and Hitchcock made the Coxeter-Mushin Absorbers. Have you ever seen one of these with the bellows on the back? If you watch the film A Matter of Life and Death with David Niven you’ll see one in operation. So he was a great source of inspiration to me and between him and Diamond they showed me a few things, how to do certain things, which was quite acute, made you think. And so every time I learnt as much as I could from these various people. George got fed up with manufacturing business and I think George Diamond went out as a service engineer, there was another fellow called Ted Downs who was a service engineer for Coxeter’s, they were out in the market place.
One chap who came in, his name was Bill Higgins, now I still speak to him, he’s 91, and he became the President of Sims Medical Canada and for 20 years he was the big boss of Canada. He was a nice, intelligent fellow and he worked assembling anaesthetic machines and went out as a rep with a car for M&IE.
I: So how long did you stay with M & I E?
P: I stayed there until I was 30.
I: So that would be 1960?
P: Well I stayed there in M & I E itself until I was 24 or 25 and then I went over to Hallam Dental Company because they were a subsidiary of the Amalgamated Dental Company and they made certain items because most of the manufacture for M & I E was made from companies called Carsberg, Braun and Wisby, Wisby was the best. So if I did a prototype of something one of those would get the work . Desmond Freer who was the Chief Executive of the whole of the Amalgamated Dental Company, who had a great friend called Bill Smith, and he ran Hallam Dental Company at Willesden. I went there to get more money because I was married by that time and this Childerhouse wouldn’t pay me because it would show him up, you see, on the books, because he claimed he did everything and he got an SS Jaguar on this and things like that. He was very acute, Mr Childerhouse , a very, very streetwise person.
Anyway, so I got to Hallam Dental Company. The next thing I know within a couple of months all the work had followed me over because he’d realised he hadn’t got anybody good enough because Hitchcock had left by then, he’d retired, and Diamond had gone –
I: What would your title have been?
P: Well the title then which was given to me really by the Chief Accountant, Arthur Phipps of M&IE, was Chief Designer in about 1954.
I: Correct me if I’m wrong, did I hear you say something about the RAF?
I: Were you in the RAF?
I: How long for?
P: 18 months… 19 months –
I: From when ‘til when?
P: Until I was 18 and 4 months through to I think it was May of 1950, I think.
I: Right, so that was a little interlude?
I: You weren’t doing any designing and turning and –
P: No, when I went in the RAF I had one ambition –
I: To get out?! <Laughs>
P: To be an ex-serviceman!
I: OK, sorry. I just wanted, before we went too far into the future to check up, I thought I heard you say that. This was National Service then you spent –
P: National Service, yes –
I: OK. So I’ve got you up to 1960 or thereabouts –
P: Yes, can I just go back onto 1950?
P: In 1950 I came out and I’d started to think… Oh, just before I went into the RAF I started to produce, with the approval of my boss, Childerhouse, and Harry Hitchcock because he was the one that produced the first ether and chloroform vapourisers for Coxeter’s and the one we were using was pretty dreadful really, so I started to make a sort of a Chinese copy of the BOC unit because the patent had run out.
I: And what sort of… that wouldn’t have been temperature compensated or…?
P: No, not at all –
I: A bubble –
P: Yeah, a bubble one with a lowering bell over the U-tube and it was called eventually the Gradaliser, the M & I E Gradaliser. In actual fact it was better than the BOC one too for me because BOC had taken Coxeters over in 1940 and they had cast the body of the vaporiser in aluminium, the very wrong thing to do, it wasn’t as good as brass. But we had a bigger piece of brass for the Gradaliser because of the fixing position on the back for the M&IE, we had to make it bigger, heavier, taking more heat in, it was better. And I hadn’t finished it quite and Harry Hitchcock took over, finished it off while I was in the RAF, when I came back out there it was. He had left by that time. And then I was into this anaesthetic machine, my first one, the Comprex, which I have some photographs of for you here. It wasn’t good. That was my first anaesthetic machine and it was exhibited in the Central Hall at Westminster.
P: And I’ve got photographs of that I’ve brought up for you.
I: When did you get married, what year did you get married?
I: And how did you meet your wife?
I: OK <laughs> that was one of your spare time pastimes?
P: This is my… I always needed something where I used a lot of energy, I was always very energetic so I did cycle racing in the RAF and before, well, in the RAF really. And then when I came out I met my wife, I went up onto the A127, there was these two cafes across the road and there was literally 100 cyclists and 3 girls. <Laughs>
I: And you picked her?
P: I picked her and I beat all the others so I had –
I: So how long did you know her before you asked her to marry you?
P: Not long, 7 or 8 months, something like that and so we’ve been together, until the other day we’d done 61 years.
P: Yeah, on the 24th I was married 61 years.
I: 61 years, that’s something, isn’t it, it’s an achievement these days.
P: Well, it is today. So anyway –
I: So now we’re up to the 1960s, so you’re married, do you have a family yet?
P: Yes, two boys.
I: And how old… when were they born, the boys?
P: My oldest one’s 57, my youngest one’s 53.
P: ‘58 and ‘62, I think, 1958 and 1962.
I: OK, so it was a while –
P: Yeah, but when I was at M & I E all that development followed me to Hallam Dental Co and I produced the Wimpole and Weymouth Boyles apparatus and I also produced another one which was… because I was learning and we were gradually taking the market from BOC, I didn’t realise how much, but we were taking the market share. And what I was trying to do for my own self was to try and make anaesthesia safe, to make all these pieces work and make it at affordable prices because we had the NHS in 19408 then and there was a lot of competition price-wise. But I designed a unit where I used Adams regulators and I laid them back at an angle of 45° and we literally, towards the end of the time I was up to leaving and joining BOC, we were producing something around about 250 kits of anaesthetic machines which were going to Canada. Mr Crisp of ADCO was then getting all the frames made in Canada and assembled machines in Canada because it was part of the Amalgamated Dental Company and home-grown stuff we were selling about 300. So round about… around 500 machines we were selling in that sort of numbers in ten years… because when I started at 19… when I came back out of the RAF, we produced about 20 or 30, that was all, and now we were then up towards the 500 mark. So when I came across to BOC to my surprise at Harlow, it was very small beer and I checked out that they’d only sold 196 that year because they had lost their market… they hadn’t looked after things.
I: So what made you go over to BOC?
P: Well, because I was at Hallam Dental Company which was a 24-mile trek to work and then we used to have technical meetings every month and sub-meetings every two weeks and Mr Childerhouse, my old boss, was made a Director with one share. And so we had these technical meetings and who used to chair the meeting was the Chief Executive of the whole of the Amalgamated Dental Company, covering over 5,400 workers under his command. He came because his friend, best friend was Bill Smith, the boss of Hallam Dental Company for one, but what got them over there to Hallam Dental Co. was because Childerhouse was very shrewd. Although he was only a small company, probably if you took all the outworkers it was probably about 80 people, maybe 100, they made 5% of the profit of the whole of the Amalgamated Dental Company and they were all intrigued as to how he did it and so it was a fight.
So I used to sit next to Childerhouse, there was Arthur Phipps, M&IE accounts, and there was [corr Sam] Strange and Bert Harris, they were from the factory at Walton-on-Thames, 3,200 workers on that site, and then there was the Chief Executive then there was Bill Smith, my boss. And so we’d have these day-long meetings about all the equipment, things I was developing and looking at and so on and that was when they [ADCO] were trying to find out what input Mr Childerhouse really made. And at the end of the five years they realised that he was really a salesman, very good, and very entrepreneurial. Then we did the Aintree Ventilator, a dreadful bit of equipment really but that that was partof the equipment range, sold well. Mr Childerhouse was very slick, you see, he would get somebody doing something, come to me and show me something and I was very enthusiastic and then I’d do a load of work, suddenly it would disappear and he’d taken it off to Oxford probably to…
I: Macintosh? –
P: Because there we had… Oh…Nuffield –
I: Yeah, to Macintosh –
P: Anaesthetic and there was… I’m trying to think of the Professor now?
I: Professor Macintosh, Sir Robert? –
P: No, he was there… but no, he was in charge of the Department of Development of Anaesthesia. And there was another chap there called Thompson, he was like me –
I: Yeah, Tommy Thompson?
P: Was it?
P: Well, he did some really good stuff, never got the credit you know?
P: And neither did Salt, Mr Salt.
I: Dickie Salt?
P: I didn’t know his other name but we all met at a dinner one day at Oxford, a crowd of us, with anaesthetists, and he was given an honorary position and I nearly cried… He was 76, I think, he was given this honorary position. And I thought… because he got treated rather badly, shabbily until then.
I: Yeah, he was working as a laboratory… essentially a laboratory technician –
P: Yes, probably –
I: In the university. I’m an Oxford man so I know the story –
P: Ah, OK –
I: And then they started the Society of Anaesthetic Laboratory Technicians which was known as SALT and there was always wonder whether that was after Richard Salt.
P: Oh, because Thompson, I didn’t know his other name but we immediately realised that he said to Salt, he said, ‘Look, we’ve got another one,’ that was me. And we got together in a bit of huddle afterwards and realised that these things like the Emotril was being passed from one to the other, Childerhouse wouldn’t tell and he would go down to Walton-on-Thames and get the… and come back to me, I said, ‘Somebody’s changed this.’ And I looked at the thing and the first Emotrils didn’t have a thermostat in them, so I went across the road from Hampstead Road and I found a car thermostat and I showed them how to make this thing work the porting. Well, quick as a flash it was gone, he’d taken it away. I know what he did, he took it down to Oxford.
I: In Oxford?
P: And Epstein –
I: Epstein, yeah –
P: Epstein Morris Oxford, EMO machines –
I: Well, Epstein MacIntosh Oxford?
P: Yes. Again I did some work, not much, on laryngoscopes at one time but I did all sorts of things, all sorts of special devices, breathing… checking breathing, low resistance devices and all sorts of things for people.
I: Let’s think where we are now, because it’s 1960s, I guess we’re now –
I: I think we’re in the 60s. You’re now at BOC?
P: Yes, I started at BOC and the reason was because BOC Medical was at Harlow in Essex which was only 24 miles from where I lived in Gidea Park then, so it wasn’t too much of a journey across country to get there and I needed a car, so I bought a Morris Minor, second hand and I used to travel across. Well, you see, if I worked at the Amalgamated Dental Company at Walton-on-Thames which I did for a few months –
I: Dreadful journey! –
P: It was nearly 40 miles each way and then the cost. So anyway I worked there, it sort of drove me out really.
I: But were you still… When you got your new job at BOC did you still have the title Director of Development or Head of Development or Design or what was your title?
P: No, it was desperation then, so they offered me the job as a Design Draughtsman and I thought, ‘I can’t do the other thing,’ so I had no option. So I really started too low down the ladder but I was a Design Draughtsman.
I: Not for long I wouldn’t have thought –
P: Well, it was with a promise because I’d shown them bits of equipment and told them what I’d done for M & I E and it’s up to me, I mean it could have been a lot of stories, couldn’t it really? So they took me on, on the basis of three months’ trial as a Design Draughtsman. Well, it didn’t take long before they realised I could do it and they gave me… the first job was to put me on a line to produce a large 10-1 scale Wright’s respirometer because that had just been developed by Ferraris through a Mr Ball who was their Chief Engineer. And they wanted a big one to show on the exhibition, so we had a similar little thing like this, a dial that size and it was my job to build this to fit it into an exhibition piece for the sales manager Doug Smith who was the Sales Manager at that time, he wanted this and I had six weeks. So he said to Bill Pearson, a very nice man, he said, ‘I’d like you to do that, can you do that?’ So I said, ‘Yes, do you want it with a breathing cycle on it, so I can make it follow the breathing pattern with an electric motor?’ ‘Oh, yeah!’
So I went away and I said the first thing I want to do I want to go down to Clerkenwell and I’ve got to get a gear train. So I went down to Clerkenwell and I remember I found this firm called Biddle & Mumford and they made gears for watches, clocks, you name it, they made gears, some gears they made for church clocks. You know some of these gears were four, five foot in diameter, right down to little, tiny gears which goes into a wrist watch. And I got down there and I knew whereabouts to go, I had to find this firm, got down there, bought a gear train, got an order phoned through, came back, worked out the centres, I was very slightly out on the centres, 10-1, but nobody was going to see that. So I designed this gear train, the chassis and so on from my experience, I had clocks where you get this big, glass domes over the top of the works, I did work for a clock company on my SaturdaysThis clock company was in Clerkenwell. As mentioned I designed this gear train and then I put a delay system in which I used with O-rings and I got the breathing pattern. I found a motor with City Electrical which was originally fitted to the Beaver Ventilator and I fitted that in the chassis, which all my model aircraft experience came in because I made it with the chassis in plywood, not metal, because it was quick for one – some metal – but all the casing was made of thin plywood in strips and we then painted the whole lot. We made all the metal rim on the front, the big dial, all the dial was produced by a chap called John Shrimpton, he was a Technical Illustrator, he produced the dial and we had this model and it looked really good. So we put it on the exhibition and that was when we got a comment back from this Doug Smith that he’d never had anything like that before from the Design Department and congratulated us. So then the next thing I knew I’d been made a Design Engineer –
I: Quite right too –
P: Within about two months, two or three months, a Design Engineer and then not long after that I was made a Senior Design Engineer. And then we moved from Harlow, to my horror, we moved to Cricklewood to the BOC Technical Centre, new Technical Centre, just off the North Circular Road. I’m back two miles from Hallam Dental Company! I thought, ‘Oh no.’ Anyway I was back on the train going back up and down to Cricklewood and I said to BOC, ‘This is not very fair, you took me on and now I’m back to where I was,’ so they gave me a moving-in allowance to move house, which was very generous. And so I moved then to Chesham in Buckinghamshire and working at Cricklewood. The emphasis there was industrial, designing big welding machines welding regulators, etc.
When I was at Harlow I produced the Mark 3 Circle Absorber. That was a good absorber, in my opinion, really good. That one over there, M&IE that isn’t what I designed at the bottom, that’s terrible I’ll explain that one to you, what’s wrong there. But I did the Mark 3 Circle Absorber and that was a 4lb canister. I’d learnt a lot from M&IE Amalgamated Dental Company because they were full of chemists and we had a lovely, chemical department, a metallurgy department, and they knew how to make soda lime. So I was very ashamed of what I did really. Mr Childerhouse took me to Softnall Soda Lime Factory, they were the only people that made soda lime in the country, and it was for the firemen’s breathing apparatus, and truthfully, a lot of the time, it wasn’t very good. Because we had this chemi lab, this is where he was an entrepreneurial guy, he’d talk to the people down there [ADCO] and he found that this chemist with a double-barrelled name which I just cannot remember, he used to work for the steel industry and in the steel they use soda lime in some of the testing for steels, I don’t know how they use it, but they did. And so he knew all about soda lime and we wanted to produce this.
So Mr Childerhouse took me down, I was probably only about 20, 21, he took me down to Sotfnall Soda Lime, somewhere down the Great West Road, and we went to this factory and I looked ever so young, I was one of these things, I didn’t look old at all. So this chap came in who operated the machine that made the soda lime. I did all the Softnall Soda Lime manufacture and there was an argument with the manager about the water content and the fact it didn’t work quite as it should have done and all that. Mr Childerhouse was doing the business negotiations over the price and all that and I was sort of hot-footing it around because he told me to and moving around a bit and he said, ‘Eric, do you want to go out for a walk?’ So I said, ‘No.’ So this chap [the machine operator] said to me, ‘Come with me, I’ll show you the machine.’ Fatal. Because I had a photographic mind, I went out there, he went and showed me this huge machine, about 100ft long of this grading machine and I’m looking at this and I’m making a few questions. ‘That’s a big, electric motor, isn’t it?’ He said, ‘That’s 35 horse power.’ I said, ‘Big as that?’ ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘You could do with 50 really.’ Anyway, I looked at this machine and I was saying to myself that’s about 10ft, 7ft or 8ft wide and that’s the first stage,’ and how you did this trembling with cams and shaking the… And I went down to the machine and I said, ‘How do you get these rocks?’ You’ve got these great rocks and it breaks it down and eventually engraves it into 4-8 mesh. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘I’ll tell you what I’ll do, come on, I’ll show you, we’ll make some.’
So he gets the materials like making batter pudding, a big thing, stirring all this lime up, this quick lime, mixing this up and then he put sodium hydroxide in, percentage of that, you make sure the water content is this and then you bake it, then you bring it out of the oven at the right time, then you break it up into reasonable, small bits and put it on the bed, then it shakes it until eventually it drops through the sieves and ends up a 4-8 mesh. And then you seal it up quick into tin cans and they are soldered into the cans, so there were cans about that sort of size – [10” x 10” x 12”]
I: I remember –
P: So of course when we got outside with Mr Childerhouse he drove round the corner to some quiet road and there was me with my pad out drawing there, saying, ‘It’s about that long, it’s this, it’s got electric motor here and so and so…’ So I did about four pages of drawing to show him and he said, ‘Come down to Walton-on-Thames with me,’ and we went down and saw Sam Strange the factory manager.
I: <Laughs> And he built one! –
P: We saw the people down there, in the Drawing Office, and of course they had all the ex- people were from the aviation industry which came up from Weybridge, because they were all Vickers Aviation people, pretty well, in the AD Co. factory, very good engineers, there were some super people there. Anyway we got this information so I spent a few days down there with them, telling them all about it, and then they were drawing this machine and do you know we made soda lime? Within about two months at the maximum we were making soda lime at Addlestone at the prosthetic products end, that’s where the machine was installed, and the other thing was that this chemist said, ‘I can put a colour indicator in that, I can make it go…’ It was pink to white or white to violet, I think, and violet to white. And Mr Childerhouse said, ‘What do you think?’ So I said, ‘I like the pink to white,’ he said, ‘So do I, so we’ll have the pink.’ So we had this activated, it was probably… I don’t know what it was, it was probably picking up the Ph level or something like that –
I: Yeah, it was –
P: And we were selling soda lime which was better than Softnall in my opinion and we were making it ourselves. But I did feel a bit sick about what I did, I didn’t like that. And the only time I found that Mr Childerhouse felt the same. And also I got the name of this chap I don’t think maybe you should mention this but I did get the name of this chap and the phone number, and he was just retiring age and the AD Co. looked after him quite well.
I: Good, OK, let’s get back on track! <Laughs>
P: Yes, OK.
I: We’re at BOC, you were a Senior Design Engineer –
P: Yes, that’s right –
I: And how long did you stay with them for?
P: At that time I was probably there for [corr. 26 years]
I: Until when, approximately?
P: 26 years, so that was 1960/1986. I argued about my position and I was made the principal engineer for anaesthesia and pipelines because I was really by that time, my boss I had, he used to do what I said, he was a very nice man looking after the whole department. We had a Mr Baxter who was a thorough gentleman, he was in charge of the Development Section, never the twain shall meet really, it was a bit difficult. But he was a very nice person, he never took the credit for anything that he didn’t do himself, found others that did, they were willing to take credit for other people’s work. So Mr Baxter was a great guy, he really was nice and so was Bill Pearson, he died only about a year or so ago and he died because he had had pneumonia about three times. He swore it was true because of smoking up until he was 54, but we did bury him at 101 and 10 months!
I: So 1986, why did you leave BOC?
P: Well, I left BOC because I’d been itching to try and get the equipment better but I could realise that the profession or the country could afford something better in the engineering field. I was trying to get this across and then the company also realised this as well and it was a bit of a double-edge sword because what happened was that when they did that they started to pull in consultants or outside design experts they were called. But what they, BOC Medishield, did, they came in and up with some sort of impression of a design, some artists thing, because the people went to the Industrial School of Art & Design for two years and they thought they’d got it all, but what they were doing running a business… And one of the guys there he was, you’ve got to give it to him really, he did have his eye to business, he was a street-wise guy and so he was to design a flow meter, an oxytherapy flow meter. He came in and sat with me and he was trying to tell me how it… And I said, ‘Look, forget it, I’m Designer, I’ll do this.’ And Ian Baxter was with me, I remember this, and he waltzed off because we were having a row straightaway. And he went away but what he did do, this chap, he went and worked through Head Office and was doing things with them without telling us. So when it came down to… suddenly I was presented with this thing, ‘Here’s the impression of an anaesthetic machine.’ Well, you couldn’t… If you’d made it, it was a failure. But anyway, it turned out that I produced the Boyle 2000 Range. We only ever made 350 and the reason for that was because I managed to stop it.
I: You weren’t satisfied with it?
P: As a piece of equipment it was OK, it was good in many respects, it was nice.
I: But –
P: And then we had a change when BOC Medishield merged with Airco, in fact BOC took over Airco in the States and this was a disasterIn my eyes. Name changed to Ohmeda.
I: Was this in the ‘70s still?
P: No, this was in 1984, I’d think, and Airco took over, Airco eventually took over, because all the management of Airco walked out and wanted to come back and they ran the whole shoot at BOC as well.
I: So was it… that was in the ‘80s but were you still working for BOC up to that point?
P: Yes, now called Ohmeda, up until 1986, that’s when after 26 years I decided to take a golden handshake which was very generous because –
I: Well, you were 56 at that point?
P: Yes, and I came out of it then to open up my own company.
I: So you started your own company, completely new?
P: Yes, M-E-D-D-S. The first thing I did –
I: What were they called?
I: And what does that stand for?
P: That was Mechanical [Engineering &] Design Development Specialists or you could make it Mechanical Electronic Design Development Specialists, you could make all sorts of things out of that.
P: M-E-D-D-S. So the first thing I got into through a friend was into Glaxo and I worked on dispensing machinery for Ventolin. The design of all the dosing heads and all the… I didn’t do… There was some equipments there but these things, about 6ft high, 4ft long and 3ft thick, cost £30-40,000 to make each one and this was to put the doses of Ventolin into these discs, 8 doses, sealed. When I got onto it they were making them but the production was not what they wanted, I think they were making about £65… let’s say they were making £65 on making these discs and the way I did it, £280.
I: Yours were faster and better –
P: Then we did a thing, a strip, a strip of 63 doses in a strip every two seconds which was then when I left that and some German guy came in which I used to work with, he came from a German company and he managed to make three lanes, so we were making three times in two seconds the three strips. They went into a film spool for a small inhaler and so all the business about how do you get the powder into an indent and all that, I did most of that.
I: Well done! So that was a big change because it was a new sort of area with powder and dispensing and so on –
P: Yes, powder is a black art, I’m afraid, and getting the drug to attach onto lactose, it’s basically, a powdered milk, and you have to attach the drug to it. So now do you do that? Now I got a feeling of how they did it but –
I: Well, don’t tell me <laughs> if it’s a secret <laughs> –
P: It was a big secret. And then you took the powder and you had to watch that if you moved it too much the drug detached.
I: Oh my gosh!
P: So you had to then hit a limit. When it was finally packed and you had to hit, I think, plus or minus 3% was the rating for the powder and also you had to make sure – which I didn’t do this part – but make sure you had product in the dip, so in other words you couldn’t have an empty space, when they clicked it round there had to be powder there and this was done by x-ray. And also sampling, every so often they would take a sample and analyse it, automatic analysing, very clever stuff. But I did all the mechanical side and a lot of the heat sealing and how do you do this, that and the other and I did some really… It was very enjoyable because there was me doing all the mechanical side, we had a fellow who was superb on the control side, we had another fella who was a computer programmer and one of them was a computer expert. So we all stuck to our fields and it all came together and all worked and it was an extremely enjoyable thing to do. So I came back off of that to Therapy Equipment Ltd and designed them their first vacuum regulator.
I: But you are still working as M-E-D-D-S?
P: Oh yes, yes –
I: And M-E-D-D-S is being employed by these other companies?
P: That’s right, yes, I worked as a sub-contractor, Design and Development. So we then produced the vacuum regulator, the first vacuum regulator for… I’d done a vacuum regulator for BOC actually before that, but I did this one for Therapy Equipment which you see them all round the hospitals –
I: You showed me, yeah –
P: And then I redesigned this about seven or eight years ago and produced the one which I showed you last time I was up here.
I: And am I right in thinking you were involved in oxygen therapy design equipment?
P: Yes, pretty well 95% of Therapy’s Equipment Ltd made I have designed.
P: So whether it be oxygen therapy, the regulator with flow meter, I designed the flow meters because a lot of this is… They are good, I mean I think you’ll find if you were to check-up they are rated as good equipment. Also electric suction for… well, you could use at theatre, double bottled ones and also single jar ones, with liners, etc., because all that came in through Abbotts. And then I did that for Therapy Equipment which they still sell. Now they should be redesigned and looked at again.
I also did Entonox by the way, I did an Entonox apparatus for Therapy Equipment and that’s what I couldn’t get in the case that was too heavy!
P: I’ve got one complete for you, for your museum –
I: For the museum, that’s very kind of you, thank you.
P: And I’ll make sure you get… I’ll get them up to you.
I: That’s very kind.
P: So yes, I did the first Entonox apparatus that was based on an aqua lung because there’s nothing so reliable as an aqua lung.
P: That’s one of my hobbies, diving that was, for fifteen years.
I: Do you intend to ever retire?
I: You don’t want to?
I: What does your wife say about that?
P: She doesn’t mind because I don’t do that long at it, I mean I get a pain in my side sometimes operating machinery, which I’ve got to get that looked into, I’ve got a pain in my back. I had a rib lesion one time.
I: So is your workshop in your home?
P: Yes, it’s in my garage.
I: In your garage –
P: And then I’ve got an office at the back which is about 14 x 11 and I’ve got in there a computer and I’ve got a big drawing board because I worked conventionally on a drawing board, but I have a computer in there. I have another one, I have two computers and I’ve got my desk, phone, all my reference books and so on.
I: You’ve got two sons –
P: Yes, I’ve got three grandsons but by my eldest son and one granddaughter by my youngest.
I: Right. And are you a good grandpa?
P: I hope I am because I try to look after them as much as I can.
I: Do you see much of them, do they live locally?
I: If I was to say to you what achievement of all of… I mean I’ve got a whole page full here, what’s your proudest achievement of all of those?
P: I’ve thought a lot about this, I think my proudest thing is that I believe I succeeded in my first ambition and that was to make anaesthesia safe in as far as the equipment’s concerned, move anaesthesia from where I was, up to something which was to the modern day and affordable and I think I did that up until the Boyle 2000 which put the cost up by about a third and you didn’t get a lot more for your money, but it was good. I think that is the main thing but there was a couple of other things really. The BS3849 that is mine. I pushed that and pushed and pushed with Dr Cope –
I: And that’s a British Standard for what?
P: For taper connectors.
I: Taper connectors.
P: The 22ml, 15ml and the 30, that was the ones that I did. I laid down the basic way in which they would be done and it was agreed, I’ve got a letter here somewhere, and I worked with people in the States and one of them in particular was Leslie Rendell-Baker. Do you know him, you must do?
I: I know the name, I don’t know the man, I’ve never met him but –
P: I had spent quite a lot of time really with him over the course because he left this country when I was about 18, he left this country, he was about 26 then, 25, 26, and he was the first – you can put this in – he reckoned he was the first doctor to enter Belsen. So we spent some time, him and I, we went to the World Congress for Anaesthetists, Hamburg, about 1984 and we spent two or three days together. And we went round looking at photographs he’d taken of the devastation, what it was today and all the rest of it, and I did have a lot of regard for him, he was a very astute guy.
I: OK, that’s… it isn’t one of your proudest moments –
P: I think the BS3849, it took some time to go in but I think that was the biggest individual thing and I think because I felt for Dr Cope… He was the Chairman of the BSI Committee and he came in one day into the meeting late and you could see his eyes were red and he was a very humane man. And he apologised and he told us all the story about where he had tried to resuscitate a young girl, a student, about 19 and she had choked on her own vomit and he couldn’t get a piece of equipment to put together so he could resuscitate her by hand, he couldn’t do it. They didn’t fit together, he had the Waters’ Canister on one bag and then he had a Coxeter here, then he had a McKesson there and so on and she died. And that really got to me.
I: I can understand, I’m not surprised.
P: So I got him to one side and I said, ‘Look, if I don’t do anything else, I will try to get this thing, I will do my best,’ which I did and of course I got onto Rendell-Baker. He handled the American side and we brought in this taper expert called Stetsinsky, I felt very sorry for him. He came over, Rendell paid for his fare over and all the rest of it and he came up with system and he thought he’d got it there. Nobody on our side, there were three of us from BOC, neither my boss or another person, Larry Cox, said a thing. And I’m sitting there and Cope was looking at me and I stood up and I said, ‘Well, I have something to say,’ and I went through and I demolished the argument of Stetsinsky’s but I brought in a system which encompassed what was fairly compatible with Hybrink or Forreger, I can’t remember whether it was Hybrink or Forreger now. And they were relying on, with the CGA, the Compressed Gas Association, and I didn’t realise what it was all the manufacturers in America got together and formed this Compressed Gas Association and it was about one man and two secretaries in an office in New York and he was really working for all these other companies. And they brought in a pin index system and I think the pin index system, because I worked on equipment which was lease/lend stuff… That was another thing at M & I E we sold anything, and we picked up this equipment to resale and it was lease/lend equipment and I’m pretty sure that they had pin index cylinders on it.
P: So it was earlier than what’s on the internet, I think it was there during the Wartime, it may not have been as standard, but it became a standard. All of that equipment there… A lot of the American equipment was very well made because I used to make sure they worked before we sold them, we sold quite a number of lease/lend equipment, we shouldn’t have done it, it was all supposed to be scrapped.
I: Well, thank you for sharing your proudest moment. I’m going to ask you the opposite, what’s the thing you regret most of your career, is there anything you can think of?
P: Yes. I’ve thought about that and that when I produced the first stainless steel ball Boyle E F and H apparatus for BOC I was then this Designer and a Design Engineer and so I was countermanded by some people as to what it should be like. And I’d done some nice things really, I’d put the Absorber on one side because we had these people, some people liked the Absorber on the left and some people liked it on the right and all this. And it was very untidy because if you put the Absorber on the left the outlet was on the right and you had this tube draping across where we had a writing table, so I thought, ‘We’ll put it through underneath round the back through copper tubing. Very good.’ And there was a hose, a 24” hose, a small, corrugated hose which you plugged into the fresh gas outlet, the swivel outlet on the front, with the emergency oxygen button and it wasn’t liked because it looked untidy. When it wasn’t connected it was hanging down and they didn’t like that and the request was that we made it and parked it and that was taken out of my hands and we had a parking spot on the side. Well, what it did… and I didn’t fight enough because I did say, ‘It looks like it’s connected to the machine’ –
I: And it wasn’t?
P: And it wasn’t and this turned up and I swore this and I think I regret so much not really having a go about this because it was against one of my bosses and I sort of let it go. And then we had a case and she was having a simple operation, I think appendicitis or something like that, it wasn’t anything relevant, and there was a doctor there and he was running about three or four operating theatres, walking up and down with the –
I: As they did –
P: Yeah, looking after all the people there with nursing anaesthetists and he thought it was connected. He’d got her on an automatic ventilator, this was where I got the… We produced the thing with a cyclator ventilator which was there when I arrived at BOC and it was all wrong really, a pressure cycle ventilator. We put that with a Mark 3 Cycle Absorber and designed a bag in bottle which was tested in the Development Department. So now we have an Absorber, a bag in bottle, concertina bellows and a cyclator on the top as the operating mechanism. All went very well but the thing was if you didn’t connect the fresh gas supply to it, the bellows would go up and down because the cyclator did that and it looked as though it was all working.
I: And it wasn’t –
P: It wasn’t because you weren’t getting any basal oxygen through. And cyanosis and that was… So myself and the product manager, Roland Smith, saw the consultant at Charing Cross Hospital and wised him on this because you’d look at it and you’d say, ‘It’s working,’ but it wasn’t. So I produced a non-return valve to prevent this again… This was another thing on this preferential of oxygen I used to laugh about this, the simplest way round preferential oxygen from a flow meter is you pass all your gases, other gases, through a non-return valve, like I did on the Halox so I’d used the Halox Vapouriser, it was with Dr Young [the London Hospital], I produced the production version that and it has a separate flow meter on the side. I don’t know if you remember this, there was a separate flow meter fed through to the Halox Vapouriser. On the internet it doesn’t show you properly because they only show the vapouriser part, there’s an oxygen supply with its own oxygen, a supply of oxygen to get 100% saturated vapour. What we couldn’t do there was get 100% saturated vapour consistently because we couldn’t get the… supply of a filter, a [82:55 centred] filter to produce it. So it was on my head, I actually… took it out of the range and we were by then using the Floor TEC Cyprane Tech Mark 3s and deleted it from the range, much to the regret of a friend of mine, he’s a consultant anaesthetist, he’s retired now, because he loved it, the Halox for low flow
I: Well, on that note –
I: I think on behalf of the Association, thank you for coming, thank you for this amazing story which we owe you a huge amount –
P: Oh, no –
I: No, I mean that.
P: No –
I: Because it’s people like you that make the equipment that we use safe and produce developments. I’d like to express on behalf of the Association but I think on that note, unless there’s anything you feel that we have to add, I’d like to thank you very much indeed.
P: That’s alright, thank you very much.
I: Pleasure –
P: And it’s been a pleasure to do it.