Nostalgia: George Turner, Family Chemist

PUBLISHED: 13:01 11 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:09 06 May 2010

The shop in 1957

The shop in 1957

LOOKING at the HSBC Bank in the High Street it is difficult to image it as a chemist shop. The distinctive Georgian building is reckoned to date back to 1820. It is a listed building and the high window to the main stairs at the rear is particularly impr

LOOKING at the HSBC Bank in the High Street it is difficult to image it as a chemist shop.

The distinctive Georgian building is reckoned to date back to 1820.

It is a listed building and the high window to the main stairs at the rear is particularly impressive.

The first owner I can trace was Lawrence Gall, a surgeon and apothecary, who purchased a property consisting of a shop in High Street and a garden behind in Back Street (now Church Street) from John Bricheno in 1796.

Lawrence was a German citizen who was naturalised in 1803.

The present premises were rebuilt for William Henry Barker who purchased the business circa 1820.

The business later became Barker and Newberry and by 1861 it was Henry Newberry.

By 1871 Rueben Caborn was the chemist and in 1880 George Maxwell.

Next was John Evans, who died suddenly one Sunday morning, July 17, 1892 after attending church.

The next chemist was Thomas Dexter Robinson and finally in May 1898, George Turner APS.

He described himself as "a dispensing and family chemist (qualified by examination), dealer in photographic apparatus, chemicals &c".

He also tested eyes, extracted teeth and dispensed horse, cattle, pig and dog medicines.

Prescriptions were always carefully dispensed, but although the remainder of his vast stock appeared to be disorganised, he could always find anything a customer required.

He continued in business for 49 years until his death in December 1947 at the age of 80.

His daughter Nancie married John Smith from Grimsby in 1937 and they carried on with the business as G Turner (Biggleswade) Ltd until the shop finally closed in 1966.

The Church Street garden had been sold to Greene King for brewery extensions.

The property was sold to The Midland Bank Ltd who opened for business in 1967.

They were acquired by HSBC in 1992 and the name changed to HSBC Plc in 1999.


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