Dr Kenneth Bernard Pinson

Personal Details

Dr Kenneth Bernard Pinson MBChB FFARCS MRCS LRCP AIMechE DA

 13/08/1890 to 29/06/1985

Place of birth: Wolverhampton

Nationality: British

CRN: 715397

Education and qualifications

General education

Clifton College; Birmingham University

Primary medical qualification(s)


Initial Fellowship and type

FFARCS by Election

Year of Fellowship


Other qualification(s)

MBChB, Birmingham, 1914

Professional life and career

Postgraduate career

Undertook hospital and GP posts in the first year after qualifying, and then served as a temporary lieutenant in the RAMC during the next year. From 1916 he was anaesthetist at Manchester’s Royal Infirmary, Children’s, Dental and other local hospitals, retiring in 1953.

Professional interests and activities

Pinson published widely on a range of topics, but most of his interests had their basis in his engineering knowledge and skills. His maternal grandfather was an engineer and Pinson worked in his company for a few months, and later attended some relevent courses while at university. In 1923 he formed the Manchester Machine and Instrument Manufacturing Co Ltd to develop his own equipment and valves, but he was more inventor than salesman so made little money! Improved valves for controlling gas flow and an early mechanical ventilator were among the devices he produced, and the ventilator allowed him to be a pioneer in the application of controlled ventilation to overcome the problems of thoracic surgery. However, he is best known now for the ‘Pinson Ether Bomb’ (see Lancet 1921; 197: 336) for producing high inhaled concentrations for the rapid induction of anaesthesia. His engineering skills were recognised by election as an associate member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1926, and his status as an anaesthetist by award of the DA(RCP&S) ‘without examination’ in 1936 as well as the Fellowship in 1948. In 1979 he received the AAGBI’s Pask Certificate of Honour for his pioneer work on ventilators and vapourisers.

Other biographical information

His engineering activities spread beyond anaesthesia (e.g. hearing aid & cervical dilator), and he was also president of a local model engineering club. He married Lillie Mary Donovan in 1915, having met her when they were both medical students, and they had five children, one of whom became a doctor and emigrated to Australia where his father died and is buried.

Author and Sources

Author: Prof Tony Wildsmith

Sources and any other comments: Obituary. BMJ 1985; 291: 1212 | Records of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers accessed on Ancestry.co.uk | Medical Directory | A photograph can be seen with the BMJ obituary noted above.