Beddoes appointed the precocious Humphry Davy as first superintendent of the Institution. Davy conducted research into nitrous oxide in its laboratory. He left the Pneumatic Institution in March 1801 to join the fledgling Royal Institution in London.
Dr Beddoes attacked popular lay practices of self-medication. He rightly felt they caused needless deaths. Unfortunately, the track-record of Beddoes and his contemporary physicians was little better. Pneumatology was neither safe nor effective. The Pneumatic Institution closed in 1802. Yet the influence of its work on gases and vapours was to prove seminal in the development of inhalation anaesthesia.
Beddoes himself died a disappointed man. Writing on his deathbed, he penned a note to Davy: "Greetings from Dr. Beddoes, one who has scattered abroad the Avena Fatua [wild oats] of knowledge, from which neither branch nor blossom nor fruit has resulted."