July 9, 2008

Pharmacy Darwin Used Evolves Way to Rouse Memories of Past


A HISTORIC pharmacy that once sold medicine to Charles Darwin and King George V has found the perfect place to put its archives on display - the shop window.

The Lindsay & Gilmour Pharmacy in Edinburgh's Elm Row recently unearthed a hoard of items of historical interest in its basement and decided to take them on tour to branches as far away as Selkirk and Hawick.

Charles Darwin, who studied medicine in the Capital, was one of the early customers of the shop.

Following the tour, the items have now come home to Edinburgh and will be given pride of place in the shop window.

The colourful display features items from the early days until the 1950s, including original pharmacists' drawers, medicine bottles, product labels and prescription books.

Two specially designed and illustrated storyboards outline the history of the business.

Nigel Cumming, Lindsay & Gilmour chairman, said: "People enjoy coming to see how things used to be in times gone by, and some of our older customers may also see things that they remember from their youth. One thing that we noticed while these items were on tour was that they were a great trigger for reminiscences of the past.

"The Elm Row branch is the original Lindsay & Gilmour Pharmacy, from which the rest of the group takes its name. It was established in 1826, which makes it one of the oldest pharmacies in Scotland.

"We know from the label on an old medicine bottle that Charles Darwin was one of the early customers. That bottle is now in the Darwin Museum.

"We also used to hold the royal warrant for King George V, and some of the labels we've unearthed bear the slogan Chemist to His Majesty the King.

The parent company, Raimes Clark, dates all the way back to 1816.

The two founders of the company, John and Richard Raimes, originally set up their business in the Edinburgh High Street as Commission Agents, supplying apothecaries and druggists. For many years the company's main business was wholesaling.

The main premises, which incorporate an Adam-style Georgian Townhouse, will be open to the public for Doors Open Day 2008 on September 29.

This year, Raimes Clark celebrates its 100th year as a Limited Company and the exhibitions have been commissioned to mark the event.

It is also the 60th anniversary of the NHS, and the company is co- operating in a number of exhibitions to mark this event.

Preserved in the archive is a range of business correspondence, as well as early product catalogues, minutes books, diaries and ledgers from the 19th century.

These include a document concerning Patrick Anderson's famous True Scots Pills. The pills, which were invented in the 17th century, were a popular remedy for more than 300 years.

Cholera, gout and rheumatism were all on the list of ailments that the medicine was claimed to cure.

The document, which dates from 1649, declares the sole right of the bearer to manufacture the "True" Scots Pills, and as such is one of the earliest known patents.

It is accompanied by advertising leaflets and a box of the pills themselves.

(c) 2008 Evening News; Edinburgh (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.