Although known for his nuclear engineering work, which was pioneering, he started as an apprentice engineer in railway engineering. Hinton was apprenticed to the Great Western Railway, Swindon for six years under William Stainer. In 1923, he received the William Henry Allen grant from the IMechE and went to Trinity College, Cambridge.
At 29 Hinton became Chief Engineer at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI). While there, he learned much about standardisation, management programming and other techniques of financial control. Under Hinton, the company made great progress in mechanical handling of raw materials and in process plant reconstruction. From 1941 Hinton was Deputy Director-General of the Royal Filling Factory organisation, before becoming head of the Atomic Energy Authority after the War. Although the application of nuclear technology to civil power stations was delayed by the government’s weapons procurement priorities, Hinton was a successful project manager, and brought all his projects in on time and on budget. By 1956, Calder Hall power station had become the first nuclear power station to supply electricity to the National Grid.