Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Deane & Co, Clapham

I already posted a picture of this ghost sign three years ago but back then I didn't include any information about Deane & Co. Since there is an interesting history behind this chemist's sign, I thought it deserved a new post, illustrated by some new pictures too.

Henry Deane was born in Stratford in 1807 into a modest Quaker family. By his own admission, he did not have a very good education at all and left school aged 14. Fortunately his father was friend with John Gibson, of the pharmaceutical firm Howard, Jewell & Gibson, who let him experiment in his laboratory. There he rapidly developed a predilection for manufacturing chemical pursuits. At the age of 18 Deane was apprenticed to an acquaintance of his uncle, Joseph Fardon chemist and druggist in Reading. In early 1834 he moved back to London, where he was employed by John Bell & Co., chemists at 338, Oxford Street. Over the following years he perfected his knowledge of pharmacology and learnt how to manage a business. In late 1837 he left John Bell & Co. to open his own business at 17, The Pavement, facing Clapham Common. There he replaced a grocer's in a building constructed in 1824. Many of his friends and colleagues considered this to be a very risky move. Even if Clapham had developed into a wealthy suburb, they doubted he would be able to get enough customers to repay the large debt he contracted from a friend of his. To make things even more difficult Deane was responsible financially at the time for his widowed mother and his sister. However after a few years his business was well established and he was out of debt. In 1841 Henry Deane became one of the first members of the newly-founded Pharmaceutical Society. Over the years he served as the society's examiner and from 1853 to 1855 as its president. He was also heavily involved in the production of a new pharmacopoeia.
Deane was also intereted in microscopy and in 1840, together with his friend Frederick Bell, he joined the Microscopical Society and invested £10 in his first microscope. Given its limitations, he purchased a more powerful one in 1845 and made one of his most remarkable discoveries: that of the existence of Xanthidia and Polythalamia in the grey chalk of Folkestone, below the common white chalk. Deane was also pioneered the use of glycerine jelly to mount fossiles on microscope slides. Since then, it is often referred to as 'Deane's medium.'
Deane was also a keen photographer, and took many pictures of 19th century Clapham.
In 1843 Henry Deane married Jemima Elliott. The couple had two sons (at least). Henry, born in 1847, became an engineer and after working for a few years in England, Hungary and the Philippines migrated to Australia where he is remembered for the electrification of the Sydney tramway system and the construction of several railway lines, including the Trans-Australian Railway. James, born a few years later, trained as a chemist and was registered in 1871. In 1874, upon Henry Deane's death, he succeeded him at 17, The Pavement.
It seems it was James Deane who registered in 1876 the company Henry Deane & Co. Sadly James died in 1885. The business was then taken over by William P. Robinson, the brother of chemist and druggist Richard Robinson, who would become president of the Pharmaceutical Society between 1904 and 1907. It was certainly around this time that the name was changed to Deane & Co. However business was no longer what it used to be and by the end of the first decade of the 20th century Deane & Co. was slowly collapsing.

Fortunately at some point between 1911 and 1914, Deane & Co. was bought by Margaret E. Buchanan, one of a few female chemists at the time (click here to see a picture of the pharmacy certainly taken around that time). Women had been allowed to qualify as chemists and druggists and as pharmaceutical chemists under the provisions of the 1868 Pharmacy Act, but in practice they faced discrimination and few managed their own business. Buchanan had trained and registered as a chemist and druggist in 1886. In 1892 she was one of only eight women to qualify as pharmaceutical chemist from the Pharmaceutical Society's School of Pharmacy (and the only one to take double honours in its exams). In 1905 she was the leading figure, together with Isabella Clark, behind the creation of the Association of Women Pharmacists. She served as its first vice-president before becoming president later. The same year she founded the Gordon Hall School of Pharmacy for Women, in Gordon Square. The acquisition of 17, The Pavement gave her pupils the opportunity to gain practical experience in the day-to-day running of a chemist's and to complete their apprenticeship. The premises also included a pharmacology laboratory, where they could conduct their research. In 1914 Buchanan formed a partnership with Agnes T. Borrowman, who became manager of 17, The Pavement. Borrowman, a pharmaceutical chemist, was also involved in teaching and research at both the Gordon School and the School of Pharmacy. In 1924 she became the Pharmaceutical Society's first female examiner. Under the leadership of Buchanan and Borrowman, 17, The Pavement became a leading centre for training chemists and druggists. By 1923, of the 15 women the pair had trained who went on to study at the Society's School of Pharmacy, 14 had obtained prizes and scholarships. Such an achievement was rightly celebrated in The Pharmaceutical Journal: "Is there another pharmacy in the country that can beat this record?"
Buchanan retired in 1924 and Borrowman became the sole owner of 17, The Pavement. She continued to run it as a training facility for women. On 8 January 1945, a V-2 flying bomb fell on Clapham Common near The Pavement. Fortunately there were no casualties but 175 houses and shops were damaged, some, including the pharmacy, quite badly. Repairs were carried out and it re-opened a few months later. At this stage Agnes Borrowman decided to turn Deane & Co. into a limited company with Hilda Wells, a former trainee, as director. 17, The Pavement remained run by and for women until 1958. That year the first man for more than forty years started work in the pharmacy.

Still trading under the name of Deane & Co., the facility remained opened until it closed down in 1986.

Deane & Co.

Location: The Pavement / Pictures taken in July 2012

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