Remembering the life and work of AOB chemist Arthur Ewins

Remembering the life and work of AOB chemist Arthur Ewins

We celebrate on this day in 1882 the birth of AOB Arthur Ewins, eminent and groundbreaking chemist.

AOB and eminent chemist Arthur Ewins (1882-1957) was born on this day (2 February) in 1882. He grew up in Herne Hill and went to Alleyn’s, then on to the Wellcome Trust, at that time situated in Brockwell Hall. In 1899, at the age of seventeen, he had the opportunity to obtain a good grounding in chemistry at The Wellcome Physiological Research Laboratories, which had then recently been established at Brockwell Hall—a former manor house of which most of the estate had already become the public Brockwell Park. It was there that he discovered the first effective treatment for acute pneumonia, which was later used to successfully treat Churchill in World War Two.

Arthur Ewins (far right back row) is pictured below with colleagues in 1914 in front of Brockwell House (which was demolished in 1923).  Also in the picture is another AOB and scientist Alexander Glenny, (back row, 2nd left), who discovered the diphtheria vaccine. Both Glenny and Ewins were able to attend Alleyn’s thanks to the old London County Council scholarships. They both made major contributions to medical science and got their first jobs at Wellcome due to Dr Baker, later headmaster of Alleyn’s.

If you’d like to find out more please read:

  • An article by former Alleyn’s parent and reproduced in the EAC Spring 2014 magazine here
  • An obituary for Arthur Ewins detailing his life in the March 1958 edition of the EAC magazine here
  • A feature on Alexander Glenny by former parent Sharon O'Connor, reproduced in the EAC Autumn 2013 magazine here

With thanks to Sharon O’Connor and The Dulwich Society 

Photo Credit (below): Portrait of Sir Henry Dale, with members of the staff, Wellcome Physiological Research Laboratories. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) 

Portrait of Arthur Ewins courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery