Famous Portsmouth pharmacy joins model village 'hall of fame' | Nostalgia

There can’t be anyone in the city who has not visited Tremletts’ chemist at some time. The company once had 11 shops in and around Portsmouth.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 5:05 pm
Bill Tremlett with the model of his Fratton Road branch in Southsea’s Model Village.  Picture: Bob Hind
Bill Tremlett with the model of his Fratton Road branch in Southsea’s Model Village. Picture: Bob Hind

The last members of the family are Bill Tremlett along with his brother Ian.

Annabel, Bill’s daughter says: ‘The company was started by Percival Gordon Tremlett in 1901 and over the next century three generations of the Tremlett family built on the flagship Fratton Road pharmacy to 11 branches.

‘If anyone had a cough or cold or something more serious then “Go to Tremletts’” was the catch-all answer for any health inquiry.’

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Bill Tremlett with some of his former staff. Picture: Bob Hind.

Annabel adds: 'In the beginning the company was a dispensing chemist, an optician and a dentist, but from 1927 pharmacy was the chosen focus.

‘Until 1948 when the NHS was formed and modern drugs became available, Percy and his son Richard (Dickie) made their own concoctions with limited resources. Laudanum, quinine and plant extracts like Devils Dung were used widely as was the practice of drawing blood with leeches, which could be hired at 6d a go.

'The modern day Tremletts was run by Richard’s sons Ian and William (Bill). Over the years Tremletts paved the way for innovative pharmacy practices including the delivery of oxygen directly to patients and running a Central Sterile Supply of syringes and needles for GP surgeries until the widespread use of disposable products took over.

'Customers visited Tremletts for a familiar and friendly face and trustworthy advice – the company provided an informal yet professional service advising people on all kinds of health and medication issues often saving a trip to A&E or a doctor.

Bill with more of his former staff at the reception in the model village last Saturday. Picture: Bob Hind.

Tremletts was popular for having a consultation room and also for its staff who formed the core of the family-run business, serving and understanding the local community for generations.

'The staff were close-knit and even 10 years after the company was sold to Rowland’s, still meet to share stories of their times working for Tremletts,’ says Annabel.

Last Saturday a model of the Fratton Road branch was unveiled in the model village at Southsea. About 50 former employees joined Bill and Annabel for the event.

Fort Purbrook

My then photographs of last Friday and yesterday were not wartime photographs but were from 1952.

The Portsmouth Home Command ordered an exercise with Royal Marines and sailors in a huge home defence exercise.

The idea was to see how Portsmouth’s naval establishments would respond to saboteurs.

Not since the First World War had Fort Purbrook been used so heavily.