Harry J. Birchall joined C. W. Dixey in Birmingham during 1904, becoming a partner in 1921 and eventually its managing director. He was a council member of the Guild of Dispensing Opticians and a Fellow of the Association of Dispensing Opticians. In addition, he held the FSMC and FBOA qualifications. By reputation, he was a quiet, retiring man with a penchant for loud American cars although he never sought the limelight.
Birchall fitted Zeiss scleral lenses at the Dixey premises in Cavendish Square between 1930 and the outbreak of the war in 1939. At this time he began to work with the engineer, Cyril Winter, in the company’s engineering shop at 114 Marylebone Lane to build a contact lens lathe. Ultimately this was used for the manufacture of the first PMMA scleral lenses in the UK.