Charles Olden Bannister, British metallurgist, was the son of Thomas Bannister and his wife Frances. He was educated at the Royal School of Mines, London, where he became a Bessemer medallist and obtained the degree Master of Engineering (MEng). Subsequently he became an associate of the Royal School of Mines, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry, and a member of both the Institute of Metals and the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy.
From 1903 to 1919 Bannister was Head of the Metallurgy Department of the Sir John Cass Technical Institute in London. During 1913 to 1920 he was also consultant metallurgist to Messrs Edward Riley and Harbord. His contribution to science in southern Africa consisted of a paper, written with G. Patchin as co-author, on "Detection of the platinum metals by means of the microscope", which was published in the Journal of the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa (1913-4, Vol. 14, pp. 478-482). Years later he returned to the subject with a paper on "Crystallisation of silver beads and detection of the platinum metals by the microscope" in the Journal of the Royal Microscopical Society (1927).
Meanwhile Bannister had been appointed in 1920 as professor of metallurgy at the University of Liverpool, a post he held until his retirement in 1941. In addition to a large number of book reviews he published numerous metallurgical papers, including the following: "The determination of iridium in platinum-iridium alloys" (Analyst, 1914, with E.A. du Vergier); "Chemical standard samples" (Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry, 1920); "Zur unterscheidung von iridium und rhodium" (Fresenius Journal of Analytical Chemistry, 1920, with E.A. du Vergier); and "Examination of bronze implements" (Nature, 1925, with J.A. Newcombe). His only book, written in collaboration with M.H. Garland, was Ancient Egyptian metallurgy (London, 1927).
Bannister married Alice Edith Burr in 1904. They had a son and a daughter.