Thursday, 26 May 2011

Wootton's Cash Chemist, Islington

At the corner of Richmond Avenue and Cloudesley Road we have the chance to have not one but two ghost signs. However since there is no name mentioned on the upper one, we can assume they were both promoting the same business, namely Wootton's Cash Chemist. The lower sign was certainly painted in the early 20th century. The different design suggests the upper sign was added at a later date, possibly when printing became a major source of income for Joseph W. Hearle, the owner of this and two other pharmacies in Islington, according to a 1936 copy of Chemist and Druggist: The Newsweekly for Pharmacy.

The name of J. W. Hearle also appeared in 1928 in The Pharmaceutical journal: A Weekly Record of Pharmacy and Allied Sciences in relation to a successful appeal against his conviction on a charge of selling a liniment of turpentine which was not of the nature, substance, and quality demanded by the purchaser, Miss Monica Pickin. In the article about this case, we learn that Joseph W. Hearle began his career as a chemist in 1893 and that he was trading as Wootton's Cash Chemist at 94, Richmond Street (the building where these signs are painted. It is possible the 'avenue' was originally a 'street' or there was a mistake) and various other addresses at the time of the hearings.
Since J. W. Hearle didn't give his name to his business, we can assume he took over a pre-existing one, most certainly set up by a Mr Wootton. Several journals from the 1880s mention William Wootton, pharmaceutical chemist of Liverpool Road, Islington. It seems he worked with his brother Samuel, whose name appears in a 1890 journal, in relation to his ninth successive election as sidesman of the Clerkenwell parish church. One precision: he was a chemist at Liverpool Road, Islington. What happened to him is not known but William Wootton died in 1896, aged 74. Was it then that J. W. Hearle bought Wootton's pharmacies?
Finally the 1936 issue of the journal mentioned at the beginning of this post indicates that Joseph Hearle was not only a member of the National Pharmaceutical Union Executive but also a director of United Chemists' Association Ltd (UCAL). UCAL was a pharmaceutical manufacturing company created in the early 20th century by chemists and druggists from London and Cheltenham. Its factory was located in the Gloucestershire town, and it had additional offices in London and Liverpool. If that was the same Hearle, he certainly had quite a successful career!

Chemicals &
Sundry Requisites
Quality & Quick Service

Wootton's Cash Chemist
J. Hearle M.P.S.
Hours of Business
9 A.M. to 6-30 P.M.
Thursday to 1 P.M.
Toilet &

I believe 'M.P.S.' was the acronym of 'Member of the Pharmaceutical Society (of Great Britain)'.
As for the term Cash, it meant drugs and other products were not sold on credit, contrary to what was the practice in many shops at the time (for another example of such a shop, see the post about Fred Palmer).

Location: Cloudesley Road / Pictures taken on: 01/04/2008 and 10/04/2008

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