I have a special interest in chemists shops as I used to work in one. Well actually it was Boots in Taunton but they transferred me to to an Edwardian style Boots in Wellington. I trained as a dispenser when all ‘scripts’ were hand written in Latin.
Measures were pre digital and I had to know how to make everything from pessaries to powders. Most stuff just comes off the shelf now and please remember pills are spherical so that term cant apply to a tablet.
Taunton had eight chemists shops in 1902. Apart from Boots most were family concerns. Gregory and Wrenn were at 22 Bridge St. (now the stamp shop) and 15 East St which we see in the image above with a fine display of Odol Tooth Powder. The East Street business was said to have been founded in the early 1800’s. In the 1890s the shop was run by Mr W. A .Wrenn. His shop was supposedly the largest premises of its type in Taunton. It had electric lighting and the company manufactured most of its specialties and potions on the premises. Like my old Edwardian Boots in Wellington ledgers were kept of the many concoctions that could be made up and supplied to the public.Gregory and Wren amassed 150,000 of these in 25 large volumes. The surgical department supplied such diverse instruments as urinometers, lactometers, water beds, spongio piline throat sprays and a truss department “ of great importance “. Happily in my time the Boots manager attended to the fitting of the latter.
Specialties made and sold by Gregory and Wrenn included Head and Liver pills (an unlikely combination), Princes Dandelion and Rhubarb Pills (another unlikely combination) and Gregory’s Acidulated Delectable Wafers.In Victorian times half the curative effect of the potion was inspired by its name.
Gregory and Wrenn also had a shop in Langport and I can just remember the Bridge St. shop. That was run by an old gentleman called Herbert Abraham. The directory lists Mrs Abraham at the East St address in 1937.Herbert Abraham lived in St Johns Road in 1967.in which year the East Street shop was still operating. By 1973 15 East St. had become a branch of Halfords cycle agents and dealers.
By Nick Chipchase