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Charles Smith - Chemist

Esatablished 1889

Research and article by Richard Hall, 2017

Charles Smith was born in Higham Ferrers in 1864, the son of John Smith and his wife Eliza. He was born when the family lived at North End and his father was a cooper with his own business.

The family had moved to the Market Square in Higham by 1881 by which time Charles was working as a dispenser to a surgeon, Dr. Crew who lived next door but one to the Smiths.

house at Higham
Early photo of the shop, at Higham Ferrers, where his parents lived
in 1881. It has a label bottom left "C F Chapman" who was taking photos and publishing postcards in the early 1900s.

He then moved around spending two years with J.W. Sergeant at Wellingborough, then with Messrs Highgate & Grippa, surgeons also at Wellingborough before taking up several appointments in London, the last of which was dispensership of the Temperance Home in North Finchley and manager of Woodside Park Pharmacy.

Arthur Woods Charles Smith, chemist
Arthur Woods
On the back Charles had written, 33 High Street
"Our first shop." High St. Rushden. Arthur Woods assistant.
Written by Chas. Smith, Proprietor." (Charles is standing, right)
[moved to 29 soon after]
Charles Smith
Note: from reflection in the window, it was across the street from Beddall's.

He moved back to Rushden by 1891 and opened a pharmacy in High Street, thus making him the second experienced chemist and druggist to open in the town after Wallis Wilkerson.

Part of the premises at 29 High Street, was used as an opticians named Smith & Cottingham. Charles was associated in business with an optician, L G Cottingham.

Charles continued in business until December 1919 when he sold the business to Boots and they have continued the business, at first under the management of Philip Bradman, until the present day.

The upstairs became known as 'Boots Chambers' and Cottingham continued there until about 1940. It also housed dentists, possibly 'North & Neave' were the first, but the partners changed over the years and Neave was replaced by Scholes who was certainly there in 1955/56.

Extracted from
Published in 1891
Charles Smith, Dispensing and Family Chemist, High Street.
About two years ago Mr. Charles Smith, Dispensing and Family Chemist, opened this business in High Street. This gentleman has had many years' practical experience as a dispenser, having been with a Dr. Crew for some years as a dispenser, also as senior assistant to Mr. J. W. Sargeant, of Wellingborough, for two years, likewise with Messrs. Higgate & Grippa, Surgeons, Wellingborough, after which he held various appointments in London, W., likewise the dispensership of the Temperance Home, Ellison Lodge, North Finchley, while manager of the Woodside Park Pharmacy, etc.
Mr. Smith is enjoying a considerable share of the best patronage of the district, and his premises are well suited in every way to the business in hand, being fitted up with excellent judgment and taste. The stock held is large and well selected, including all kinds of drugs and chemicals, patent medicines, proprietary articles, horse and cattle medicines, and a great variety of surgical, toilet, and nursery requisites, all of which are guaranteed of first-class quality and manufacture, and are offered at most reasonable prices.
Mr. Smith gives special attention to the dispensing department, and uses none but absolutely pure and fresh drugs in the compounding of physicians' prescriptions and family recipes. That this business will continue to gain in popularity at the same gratifying pace as hitherto can be predicted without the least hesitancy, for the proprietor is as much respected for his ability as his courtesy and integrity.

The Argus, 11th April 1890
SPRING CLEANING made easy by
It produces a lasting and brilliant
polish almost instantly, with little
labour. C. SMITH, chemist, Rushden.

In 1891 Charles was married to Bertha Pickering. Charles had moved back with his parents, and Bertha was living with her sister, Letitia, wife of Wesleyan minister, James Lawrence, at Higham Ferrers. Bertha was born in 1868 at Selby, YKS. They had two sons, Eric and Gordon, who emigrated to America.

1890 advert
Advert in Wesleyan Bazaar programme 1890
Charles was a founder of the Adult School, and keen Temperance worker.
In this fine quality photograph the left lower window is displaying paper
for quality printing, and picture frames, whilst the other side advertises
Exhibition Lemonade at 3½d. - 29 High Street - perhaps his own photograph?

Report in 1897 on decorations for celebrating Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee:

The front of the Coffee Tavern was also treated with numerous fairy lamps, surmounted with the letters V.R. and a crown. The windows were decorated with bunting and numerous flags were also displayed. Mr. Beddall's shop was decorated with flags and bunting, whilst Mr. Smith evidenced his loyalty by displaying a photo of Her Majesty, surrounded by a number of flags. The premises of Mr. Miller were also brilliantly illuminated. The letters V. and R. in fairy lamps ware arranged on either side of the building, whilst a massive crown filled the recess over the shop front.

The shop advert
The shop now with Kodak Advert on the window
3 Adverts in the Rushden Echo, December 1905
Children's Tonic
Blood, Bone and Flesh Forming

A new Restorative for Weak and Delicate
Children; very palatable and easily assimilated.

Recommended as a General Tonic, to be
occasionally given to quick-growing Children.

Aids Digestion and Enriches the Blood

In bottles, 6d, 1/-, and 1/9.

C Smith M.P.S.
Dispensing Chemist
29 High Street, Rushden

Kidney Pills

1/- and 2/- Per Box

C Smith M.P.S., Chemist

High Street, Rushden

Rushden Argus - 1893

advert for baking powder various products
Undated adverts for a variety of products
Baking powder, corn solvent, foot powder, ginger beer powder, herb beer powder.

Two young lads outside Chas Smith Chemist
shop in High Street c1905.
This bottle does not stand up, but lays down.
The neck is angled upwards to prevent spillage

A label showing both shops were trading under his name

ointment pot pot lid
Small straight-sided ointment
pot about 3" tall and the lid.

Courtesy of Rushden Museum

This advert is copied from the Higham Ferrers and Chelveston Parish Magazine 1907.

A telphone has been installed at his mother's shop for customers to call the Rushden shop.

1907 advert

Rushden Echo, 5th April 1912

After a cold, nothing is better than a few doses of Cod Liver Oil.
In Smith's Emulsion you get it to perfection. Children like it, and
take it readily. In bottles 1/- and 1/9.— Smith, Chemist, Rushden.

Rushden Echo, 19th November 1915, transcribed by Kay Collins

Promotion for Rushden Chemist

Mr. E. W. T. Howell, who was formerly assistant to Mr. C. Smith, pharmacist, of Rushden, and who enlisted in the R.A.M.C. a month ago, has been promoted sergeant. He is at present stationed at Warminster.

Extract from the notes of J Enos Smith

Why not have our "Red Spring" listed and analysed, and if valuable advertise it, and make Rushden equal to Bath, Buxton, Leamington, and other places?

Since this war we have found out the real value of many springs. Mr Smith the chemist, a gentleman very interested in "old" Rushden has kindly promised to analyse it.
J Enos Smith (Appeared in "Argus" Friday August 11th 1916)

Rushden Echo, 21st January 1916, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Man's Long Journey
Seven Thousand Miles — In Order to Join The Colours

Mr. Eric Smith, elder son of Mr. Charles Smith, chemist, of High-street, Rushden, has joined the Electrical Signalling Department, Cable Company, Canadian Contingent. He has travelled 6,000 or 7,000 in order to join the Colours. He was electrical engineer on the Santa Fe Railway, and was at New Mexico, U.S.A., and the journey, which was via Toronto, occupied nearly three weeks. Reaching Rushden on Saturday night, he had to leave again on Sunday night to join his company.

Rushden Echo, 13th September, 1918

Victims of the War

Mrs. W. Neville, of High-street, Rushden, has received a letter from her mother, who resides at Blackpool giving the sad information that Second Lieut. Foster Lindley, of the East Yorks, and formerly chemist'™s assistant with Mr. C. Smith at Rushden, has been killed in action.  The deceased officer, who was well-known in Rushden, was formerly a member of the Rushden Park-road Wesleyan Choir and also of the Adult School Choir.  He left his appointment at Rushden to take up a managerial position for Mr. Hall, chemist, Blackpool, and subsequently entered into partnership with Mr. Hall.  He was gazetted Second Lieut six months ago, and immediately proceeded to the Western front.  He is the third of his family to make the supreme sacrifice, and his many friends in Rushden will receive the news of his demise with sincere regret.

Rushden Echo, 19th December 1919, transcribed by Kay Collins

Mr. Philip Bradnam, formerly with Mr. Charles Smith, chemist, up to about eight years ago, has been appointed manager of the Rushden branch of Boots, Ltd.

Charles Smith sold the business to 'Boots' in 1919.

Note: some of the pictures on this page came to us in 2021, from his family in USA.
Some had captions written by Charles on the reverse.

Feathers Inn
"This is facing Great Grandma's old home, and showing the ends of shops, Seckington's &c which are being pulled down"
"This is facing the 'Feathers Inn' and where I often went as a child, it is now the boot shop Timpson."

Did Charles Smith take these photographs of the carnival from an upstairs window?
crowded street
Crowds passing the Coffee Tavern
c1900 - possibly after a parade?
Band passing A Busby & Co
Note the gates and railings c1900
Another Band in the same place.
?did Charles Smith take these photos

Did Charles take this photograph? He was selling paper and printing ink.....
photograph c1908
Post Office in about 1905/8, and before the High Street was widened in 1910.
The quality of the clip taken from it enables us to read the car registration.
BD-210 potcard
BD210 outside the Post Office c1908
Early handcoloured postcard - ^people erased?

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