Medical marvels from British Pathé

It’s science month over on the British Pathé YouTube channel, where all year they’ve been taking suggestions for themes to follow.

The venerable British cinema news service ran for 60 years until 1970, providing a unique – if idiosyncratic – look at the events of the day, and its archive was digitised in 2002 ahead of its debut on YouTube in 2011.

In October its science videos include ‘A Miracle From Mould’, a 1944 look at Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin – a “marvellous new cure for various types of blood poisoning”.

There’s “Britain’s premier philanthropist”, the car manufacturer Lord Nuffield, watching a demonstration of the new Iron Lung in 1938, and 1955 research presentations by Dr Jonas Salk in ‘Medical Science Conquers Polio’.

But particularly striking is the 1957 report on research into ‘coffin nails’ from the Medical Research Council, which directly linked smoking with lung cancer. It was illustrated by footage of the Department of Health’s press conference on the research – indicative of the times, ash trays are shown being laid out for attendees…


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