The Gilchrist Collection

The latest collection donated to the Heritage Centre was received earlier this month from the family of Dr Edith Gilchrist, a well-known anaesthetist and highly-respected archivist and researcher.

Dr Edith Gilchrist
Dr Edith Gilchrist

Born in September 1913, Dr Gilchrist died shortly before her 100th birthday in July 2013. She qualified in 1938 at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, and within five years was resident anaesthetist at Addenbrookes Hospital, before returning to the Royal Free as staff anaesthetist in 1945. Dr Gilchrist gained the DA (Diploma in Anaesthetics) in 1942 and was awarded the FFARCS (Fellow of the Faculty of Anaesthetists of the Royal College of Surgeons) in 1953.

Whilst at the Royal Free, Dr Gilchrist worked with Stanley Rowbotham, the pioneering anaesthetists who helped to develop plastic surgery after the First World War, and pioneered local and intravenous anaesthesia. They became life-long friends and Dr Gilchrist arranged for his memorial plaque which now hangs in the Royal College of Anaesthetists.

Keenly interested in the history of medicine, she was a member of The Hunterian Society, The Osler Club and was the first female president of The Harveian Society. She was also the honorary archivist for the Royal Free and co-founded their archive centre which is now part of the London Metropolitan Archives.

The collection contains equipment used by Dr Gilchrist throughout her career, as well as pharmaceutical packaging and sample sets, and books with notes from both Dr Gilchrist and Stanley Rowbotham. Scroll down to see some of the objects in the collection.

 

Glass 20cc syringe in handmade case
Glass 20cc syringe in handmade case

 

Sample packaging from Roche Products Ltd. Originally contained 'hypnotic analgesics' and 'vegetable soup sedatives'.
Sample packaging from Roche Products Ltd. Originally contained ‘hypnotic analgesics’ and ‘vegetable soup sedatives’

 

Ethyl chloride from 1949. It was sprayed onto a facemask to induce anaesthesia, or applied directly to the skin as a local anaesthetic. It is still used today to treat sport injuries
Ethyl chloride from 1949. It was sprayed onto a facemask to induce anaesthesia, or applied directly to the skin as a local anaesthetic. It is still used today to treat sport injuries

 

Hypodermic needle packaging from Allen & Hanburys
Hypodermic needle packaging from Allen & Hanburys

 

Sterilising box, originally engraved 'Miss Barry'
Sterilising box, originally engraved ‘Miss Barry’
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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
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Mixed with water and methylated spirit, this tube made a tincture of iodine to sterilise the skin.
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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

Exhibition View

Earlier this month a view was held for the our new exhibition ‘Out of Our Comfort Zone’ which looks at the work of anaesthetists during wars and disasters.

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The viewing was attended by representatives from the military, medical charities, universities and hospitals, and guided tours were led by our volunteers.

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Some of the interesting artefacts exhibited date back to the nineteenth century and include the table used for the first operation under ether, a chloroform sales pot and a Triservice Apparatus used by the armed forces, in military or major disasters. This robust, portable apparatus was designed by Brigadier Ivan Houghton in 1981, who also attended the event.

The keynote speaker at the event was Dr Andrew Hartle, the AAGBI Council’s Andrew HartlePresident Elect, who treated casualties of the Edgware Road tube bombings in July 2007, and spoke about his experiences.

 Dr. Hartle said, “In this era of rapid technological development within the medical field, few people realise that before 1950, seriously injured people received little or no life-supporting treatment before they arrived at the hospital. Probably something even lesser known, is the contribution of anaesthetists in times of crises. For instance, at the Moorgate tube disaster in 1975, 16 out of the 18 doctors on site were anaesthetists. This exhibition is therefore an important compilation of facts and equipment which illustrate the history of pain relief in crisis situations. If you have ever been directly or indirectly affected by a disaster, I would recommend a visit to this exhibition.”

If you would like to be added to our mailing list to find out about future events, please email heritage@aagbi.org or leave a comment below.

Scroll down for further images of the event and exhibition.

The operating table used for the first operation in Europe under ether. It is possible that it was originally used as a mortuary table, rather than for operations.
The operating table used for the first operation in Europe under ether. The surgeon was Robert Liston and he amputated his patient’s leg in under three minutes. The anaesthetic was given by William Squire, a medical student. It is possible that it was originally used as a mortuary table, rather than for operations.
Though the authenticity of this piece is questionable, it was reputedly was used by David Waldie, a chemist from Liverpool, to store chloroform. Waldie perfected a method of separating chloroform from chloric ether and suggested it to James Young Simpson when he was looking for an alternative to ether. It has been on loan to the Heritage Centre from the Nuffield Department of Anaesthesia since 2003
Though the authenticity of this piece is questionable, it was reputedly was used by David Waldie, a chemist from Liverpool, to store chloroform. Waldie perfected a method of separating chloroform from chloric ether and suggested it to James Young Simpson when he was looking for an alternative to ether.
It has been on loan to the Heritage Centre from the Nuffield Department of Anaesthesia since 2003
This robust, portable apparatus was designed by Brigadier Ivan Houghton in 1981 as a development of the Oxford miniature vaporizer. It can be used in military or major disasters. The top layer contains anaesthetics and analgesics, and the lower section hold equipment for emergency medical treatment.
This robust, portable apparatus was designed by Brigadier Ivan Houghton in 1981 as a development of the Oxford miniature vaporizer. It can be used in military or major disasters. The top layer contains anaesthetics and analgesics, and the lower section hold equipment for emergency medical treatment.