Great news for anyone interested in the history of medicine, the hugely successful series The Victorian Pharmacy is currently being repeated on BBC2, Monday evenings at 7pm. Professor Nick Barber, historian Ruth Goodman and PhD student Tom Quick bring to life the challenges faced by the Victorian pharmacist. The BBC recreated an everyday pharmacy at Blists Hill Victorian Town in Ironbridge.
I recently stumbled upon a charming little Museum situated on Swanage sea front. The Swanage Museum was founded in 1976 by a group of enthusiastic artists and historians. The displays have been arranged and constructed with care by a team of volunteers. One of the exhibits that caught my eye is the replica of Lloyds Dispensing Chemists shop (see image above) which was situated at 42 High Street in Swanage. Following Pharmacist Henry Lloyd’s death in 1933, the business was carried on by his wife Kathleen and later by their daughter Mary. The shop closed in 1995. Some of the equipment in the images will be appear familiar if you are a fan of The Victorian Pharmacy!
Here is how the Victorian pharmacist created pills from raw ingredients:
- all the dry ingredients were pulverised and mixed in a pill mortar and pestle;
- excipient was added, drop-by-drop to bind form into a pliable mass. Excipient was usually syrup of liquid of glucose;
- the mass was then rolled into a ball and then into a long, even sausage-style length;
- the sausage-style length was cut into portions;
- using the pill machine, the pill mass would be rolled to the number required to create rounded portions;
- each pill round was roughly rolled between the finger and thumb and a smooth finish was created by using the pill rounder in a circular figure of eight movement;
- the well-rounded pills were then set aside to dry.
If you want to learn more about the history of medicine, check-out the London Museums of Health and Medicine website.