Maw's Medical First Aid Kit

Maw and Sons were founded in 1814 when George Maw, a former farmer from Lincolnshire, purchased a surgical plaster factory located in Whitecross Street in London, EC1.

Soon after the acquisition, the company began to expand and diversify the product range and moved into the manufacture of surgical instruments as well as later offering a wide range of other medical and pharmaceutical products. In 1826, George's son John was made a partner and the company changed its name to George Maw & Son. When George retired in 1828, his second son, Solomon, also joined the company as a fellow director. John was forced to retire early in 1835 due to ill health and Solomon took over; under his sole stewardship, the company went from strength to strength. Maw's were very soon winning many government contracts for supply of their products, including from the military.

The company soon outgrew its original site in Whitecross Street and moved to larger premises in Aldersgate Street, also in EC1 (now part of the A1, next to the Barbican). This, however, had to be completely rebuilt following a fire on the site in 1856. The company was again renamed in 1860 to S. Maw & Son, following Solomon's son Charles being brought in as a partner. In 1901, the firm was incorporated with the name of S. Maw, Son & Sons Ltd.

The ongoing expansion was such that, in 1920, the company purchased a 22-acre site in Barnet, to where it relocated the bulk of its manufacturing capability.

The images below are of an un-issued medical kit produced by S.Maw, Son & Sons Ltd shortly before the outbreak of World War 2, at their Barnet site for use by the ARP in the event of aerial attack. The kit was intended to be issued to a medical squad and as such, contains everything that might be required. We have not photographed each and every item contained within as there are, understandably, a number of duplications in terms of bandages, etc.

The main bag of the medical kit. This contains the majority of the items.

Grey triangular bandage. One of the smaller bandage packs, which, un-issued, still contains its original contents.

Sterilised Wash Rag. Used for the cleaning of wounds.

Absorbent Lint package. These were used for applying directly to a wound, prior to applying the bandages.

Medium Sterilized Dressing. This again could be used for direct application to the wound.

Absorbent Cotton Wool. These were used as swabs to help clean wounds.

Safety pins. These remain on their original issue card. Used for securing bandages, especially where being used for support (for example an arm)

Tourniquet. A number of these were provided in the medical kit, used to control excessive bleeding by using pressure to prevent further blood flow to the wound.

Jar of Bleach Ointment. Gas was a potential new threat in World War 2 and so bleach (both powdered and in paste form) was supplied in order to decontaminate skin which had been in contact with gas.

Tube of Tannic Acid Jelly. This was provided for the treatment of burns, whether from the effects of incendiary bombs, or by blistering agents such as mustard gas. Click here for more information on Tannic Acid.

Patient labels. These were intended to be used in order to identify the wounded when they were transferred onwards from the initial scene. It is important to remember that the ARP would be providing First Aid (primary treatment) and not the only means of medical care. As such, it was important to be able to identify the exact nature of the wounds, especially if the patient was rendered unconscious or unable, for whatever reason, to communicate the nature of their injury. The section containing the oblong hole indicated if the patient had come into contact with gas; this would alert the next medical team to the potential danger of contamination.

Blackout torch and stand. In order to maintain the blackout, it was important to be able to work out in the open with the ability to be see what you were doing. The medical kit included a metal torch (produced by Eveready) with a fixed blue filter lens. Interestingly enough, while the kit may well have been issued with batteries originally, there is no evidence of them now. The stand allows the first aider to be able to treat the patient, with both hands free for treatment.


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