This transcript of a witness seminar, one of a series of five, provides an intriguing and instructional collection of memoires and insights from senior members of the dental profession and others, especially since the inception of the NHS. Such seminars capture the knowledge of ‘witnesses’ to the events discussed. These seminars and associated activities form part of a history of dentistry made possible by a significant donation from the eponymous sponsor of the John McLean Archive of Living Dental History. Dr John McLean was a unique icon of British dentistry. He was a leader of the profession, holding many prestigious positions, including President of the BDA, and an expert on dental materials, operative dentistry and prosthodontics. He authored over 100 papers for peer-reviewed journals. The seminars are part of a fitting memorial to a great man and provide information that cannot easily be obtained in books and clinical and research journals.