The Both mechanical respirator.

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About this work


This film in two parts shows the mechanism of an artifical respirator (an iron lung); a female patient is shown being placed in the machine and then cared for by nurses (she is fed, groomed and given an enema). The second part starts with instructions as to what to do if there are electrical or mechanical faults in the machinery.


[Place of publication not identified], s.n.], [1939]

Physical description

1 Digibeta (14:30 mins) : silent, black and white; PAL.
1 VHS (14:30 mins) : silent, black and white; PAL.
1 DVD (14:30 mins) : silent, black and white; PAL.

Copyright note

Copyright previously held by Nuffield


Conservation and access copies made from the film collection comprising of 55 items donated by Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics, Oxford, to the Wellcome Trust in 2008. In 1937, Lord Nuffield established a clinical chair of anaesthesia in Oxford amidst some controversy that anaesthesia was even an academic discipline. The collection is a mixture of clinical and educational films made or held by the department to supplement their teaching dating from the late 1930s onwards.
The Both portable respirator was invented by an Australian engineer, E. T. Both. Both iron lungs went on to be manufactured by Lord Nuffield in England from the late 1930s onwards and then were distributed all over the British Empire, including Australia. There is an example of the iron lung featured in this film at the Science Museum, London. Iron lungs were used to provide artificial respiration caused by paralysis most often brought upon by contracting polio.

Creator/production credits

A School Films Production. Directed by CLG Pratt MA MD MSc, Photography & Production by Norman Spurr.



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