Famous chain of chemists started out life in our city

Timothy Whites' staff outside the shop in Commercial Road, Portsmouth
Timothy Whites' staff outside the shop in Commercial Road, Portsmouth
The Royal Pier Hotel, now Rees Hall.

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Portsmouth has many claims to fame. One of them is that the chain of chemists, Timothy Whites, was founded in the city.

Timothy White set up as a chemist in 1848 and qualified as a pharmacist in 1869.

The Timothy White store, in Palmerston Road, Southsea

The Timothy White store, in Palmerston Road, Southsea

By the 1890s his chain of drugstores was one of the 10 largest in the country and, at the time of its takeover by Boots in 1968, had 600 branches nationwide.

As the 1922 photograph here of staff outside the branch at Commercial Road, Portsmouth, shows, the company had diversified.

By the 1920s it was offering ‘pure drugs, toilet requisites, photographic materials, household requisites, brooms, brushes and mats’.

This branch, opposite the Air Balloon pub in old Commercial Road, is displaying a selection of both rubber and stoneware hot water bottles.

The Palmerston Road branch was one of the last survivors of the national chain, trading as a hardware store before closure in the 1980s.

n All today’s pictures come from John Sadden and Mark Wingham’s recent book Portsmouth Then & Now published by The History Press.