Tag Archives: W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s

The preparations are almost finished!

It’s been a busy old few months for the buildings team, with work on the Chemist’s and Photographer’s taking a lot of time and effort – in advance of the opening early in May.

IMG_0186

Shaun’s team have finished all the external shop front, the internal counters, drug-runs, shelving, and panelling. The scaffolding came down recently and Sarah Jarman has been busy sign-writing.

IMG_0187

Inside the Chemist the finishing touches of ‘set-dressing’ are being led by Clara, with the Aerated Waters plant and gas lighting currently undergoing their final installations.

We think you’ll agree that it’s looking fantastic!

Leave a comment

Filed under W. Smith's Chemist and Photographer's

Progress on W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s

As we head towards the opening of the Chemist and Photographer’s in late Spring, and despite the snow, the Buildings Team have begun work on installing the period fixtures and fittings that will help to bring the new exhibit to life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shaun standing behind the shop counter in the reception area of the Photographer’s Studio.

In the Photographer’s, Shaun and his team have nearly finished fitting the impressive mahogany panels that will form the divide between the reception and studio. The shop counter has also been installed, which  has been made from the bottom sections of more of the mahogany panels (learn more about the Joinery Team’s work on the Chemist and Photographer’s here). The panelling will also continue along the walls of the corridor of the reception up to dado rail height, with specially reproduced wallpaper above.

wallpaper 1

The wallpaper that will be used in the Photographer’s Studio will be a reproduction of this 1907 sample.

The wallpaper is a copy of a pattern that was available to purchase from the Co-op in 1907. Clara found it in a catalogue that is in Beamish’s archives. It was chosen firstly because of its colour – ‘pea green’ was according to P. C. Duchochois’ 1891 book Lighting the Photographic Studio, a favourite with photographers due to its light reflecting qualities. It also has an Art Nouveau motif printed on it. By the early 1900s Art Nouveau had evolved from being an avant garde style, which originated in Paris to being one of the most popular and fashionable styles of the era. In contrast to the fussy foliage of William Morris-type patterns, its sinuous lines were considered to be extremely modern. This was something which a photographer, whose business relied upon fashion and up-to-date technology would probably have appreciated, and therefore we have decided to decorate the studio in the Art Nouveau style.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Paul installing the Art Nouveau fireplace in the Photographer’s studio.

With this in mind, the fireplace that Paul and his team are currently fitting in the studio with its exaggerated recessed-dome opening is in high Art Nouveau style. The wallpaper and fireplace, along with other details such as a beautiful restored gas chandelier and reclaimed early 20th century door furniture will help to make the space feel at the height of Edwardian fashion.

In contrast, the Chemist will be decorated in a much older style to reflect that it is a more established and traditional business. This means that although set in the 1910s, it will seem as if it has changed little since the 1880s, and in parts will appear to be even older, given that the building we are copying was original built during the mid-Georgian era. This means that the interior will include heavy, dark wooden shop fittings,which Shaun and his team have been restoring and resizing ready for their installation (look out for a further post with more details of this). Instead, of the stylish fireplace in the studio, the fireplace in the Chemists is a decoratively fussy, reclaimed hob-grate. When finished, the walls will be a dark ‘Pugin’ red that would have been very fashionable during the mid to late Victorian period, with reproduction ‘Anaglypta’ (or  raised textured) wallpaper on the ceiling, that will become increasingly stained by the gas lighting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The mid-Victorian hob grate fireplace in the Chemist’s. 

Leave a comment

Filed under W. Smith's Chemist and Photographer's

Progress of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The nearly completed façade of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s

The scaffold at W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s has been partially dropped, revealing the impressive façade for the first time.

PC070206.JPG

The mahogany panels that will form the divide between the reception and studio in the Photographer’s, and which once re-glazed with fully transparent glass will allow the visitors to see the photographer at work.

Inside, the beautiful mahogany panels in the Photographic Studio are beginning to be installed. And in the Chemist, the wonderful carved column has been put in place. Although not actually structural, it is intended to help to portray the Chemist’s as much older establishment than the other buildings in the street, and hint at the original building on Elvet’s Bridge past as a Georgian inn.

Shaun and column

Shaun and the carved column in the Chemist 

At the rear of the building Paul, Cos and Kearon are busy constructing the base for the  wooden-framed conservatory, which Shaun and his team will be building. Photographic studios conventionally had a conservatory or large skylight to enable enough light for a good quality exposure. Just like ours will be, this would have been located to side of where the sitters were photographed, with the light coming from the North, to provide a constant, non-glaring light, which was best for taking photographs in.

PC070205.JPG

Jim and Paul discussing the rear conservatory

Leave a comment

Filed under W. Smith's Chemist and Photographer's

The interiors of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s begin to take shape

DSCN3255

As the second storey floor goes in and the chimney stacks are nearing completion, the interior spaces of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s are beginning to take shape.

DSCN3251

Leave a comment

Filed under W. Smith's Chemist and Photographer's

The roof structure of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographers’ is complete!

The completed roof structure of W. Smith's Chemist and Photographers'

The completed roof structure of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographers’

After many weeks of hard work Shaun, Dan and Keith have finished the timber roof structure, complete with the curves and twists that mimic the roof of the building we are copying on Elvet Bridge in Durham. There is still much more to do before we can start on the interior of the shop. Paul and Cos need to build the building’s gable peaks and chimneys and the roof needs to be covered with reclaimed slates.

Leave a comment

Filed under W. Smith's Chemist and Photographer's

The first floor of W. Smith’s arrives

DSCN2407Earlier this morning, a giant crane appeared in the Town at Beamish. Its job is to help load in place the hollow concrete slabs that will form the first floor of W. Smith’s.

DSCN2418

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized, W. Smith's Chemist and Photographer's

Progress on W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s

The building of W. Smith's has now reached first floor height.

The building of W. Smith’s has now reached first floor height.

Work is progressing well on W. Smith’s. At the site, Paul and Cos have now reached first floor level and the internal scaffolding is being taken down ready for the installation of the first storey floors. Shaun and Dan have also been working hard and the tricky replica shop front corbels are now nearly complete.

Shaun standing with one of the nearly finished shop front corbels.

Shaun standing with one of the nearly finished shop front corbels.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized, W. Smith's Chemist and Photographer's

Collecting Codd Bottles

A sample of the Codd bottles in our collection.

A sample of the Codd bottles in our collection.

As part of our on going search to find yet more exciting collections to fill W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographers’, our office is slowly being invaded by funny shaped old bottles…

They’re called ‘Codd’ bottles and were the most common type of bottle used for containing fizzy drinks from the late 19th century until the early 1930s. Patented in 1872 by Hariam Codd, the bottle was sealed by a marble that was forced against the mouth of the bottle by the pressure of the gas produced by the aerated water .inside. To drink the aerated waters inside you used a special opener to push the marble down. Then when tilted upwards, the marble was captured by two checks on either side of the bottle, allowing the drink to flow out.

Locally made Codd bottles.

Locally made Codd bottles.

 

For the marble feature to work the bottles had to be filled upside down using an inverted bottler. These bottlers are now incredibly rare, we only know of four that are left in the entire country. We are planning to use a modern Japanese version of the Codd bottle, which have screw tops, so that they can be filled upright using a type of bottler that we have in our collections. This also reduces the chance of any potential choking hazards the marble might cause!

A rare surviving Codd bottler, held at the Museum of Bath at Work.

A rare surviving Codd bottler, held at the Museum of Bath at Work.

Jim is particularly interested in  Codd bottles as a way of telling local history, as each manufacturer of fizzy drinks had their own branded bottles. So far, some of the more  unusual examples that we have collected include, one from Newcastle made by R. Emmerson Junior that shows a man riding a penny-farthing, and one from Gateshead with a picture of a bird sitting in a tree. We also have bottles from Stockton, Morpeth, Kirbymoorside, Houghton-le-Spring and many other local places. Our dream is to eventually have a bottle from every village in the North East. Please let us know if you have any that you would like to donate.

Jim is particularly excited about our growing Codd bottle collection.

Jim is particularly excited about our growing Codd bottle collection.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Collections, W. Smith's Chemist and Photographer's

W. Smith’s amazing aerated waters!

As well as housing a chemist and photographer’s, the new corner building will also be home to a working soda plant that will produce flavoured aerated waters for our visitors to sample.

carbonation-machines

Advert for a small soda water machine of the type that chemists used.

In the 19th century soda water enjoyed massive popularity, particularly after the 1870’s when a bewildering variety of more reliable bottle closures were patented, as safer alternatives to corks (which were usually forced out by the pressure of the gas from the soda water). This fashion had a number of drivers. Along with the obvious attraction of how the fizzy drinks tasted, they was a real need for a safe and reliable, non-alcoholic drinks when away from home, when many areas still did not yet have clean, piped drinking water. The aerated drinks were also presumed to share the same health benefits as non-artificial ‘mineral waters’, which had enjoyed such popularity from early Georgian times at Bath, Leamington, Harrogate and many other spas. It is because of the guise that they were somehow healthy, that chemists became one of the main manufacturers of aerated waters.

Initial attempts at manufacturing carbonated water reportedly began in the 16th century with the experiments of Mr Thurneisser in 1560. However, the first ‘carbonation’ patent wasn’t granted until 1810, to the American partnership Simmons and Rundell. Other patents for aeration pumps were soon developed. One of the earliest was made by the Englishman Joseph Matthews in New York City in 1832. It basically consisted of a cast iron box lined with lead, in which carbonic acid gas was formed by reacting sulphuric acid with marble dust. The gas was then passed through water and agitated by hand to create soda water, after which is was mixed with salts to mimic the naturally occurring spa mineral waters. Reputedly the enterprising Matthews made twenty five million gallons of his soda water using marble off-cuts from the construction of St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York!

Our Bradford engine that is being restored so that it can power our soda pump.

Our Bradford engine that is being restored so that it can power our soda pump.

Other pumps in both Britain and America used the more commercial viable ‘whiting’ or chalk dust instead of marble chips. Both large plants for high volume production and smaller versions for individual enterprises were available to order from catalogues, such as Bratby and Hinchliffes (an 1884 copy of which is in our collections). The smaller pumps, driven either by hand or by electric or gas motors, were intended for use by businesses like our Chemist, as part of a wider operation. Companies like Barnett and Forsters even sent pumps to the colonies. It would be fair to say that nearly every town in the British Empire contained a soda machine.

The soda pump that we have in our collections, which we are planning to restore, was donated in 1976 by a small family business called Innes, which operated out of Windermere Terrace in North Shields. To drive it we have recently collected a little Bradford gas engine, which is about the right scale for the size of operation that a chemist like ours would run. It has recently been sent away to experts to be returned to working condition.

In February members of the project team visited a Victorian soda plant formerly from the factory of J. B. Bowler, which had been moved and set up to its originally operational scale and layout (including the tank, pump, bottlers etc.), at the Museum of Bath at Work. While this set up was clearly too big for us to attempt to replicate, it did give us an excellent understanding of how aerated water was actually manufactured and packaged.

It also provided us with a good idea of what a ‘flavour laboratory’ may have looked like. A flavour laboratory was where the pre-made syrups would have been either stored or where new flavours were created. Pre-made syrups could be bought from wholesalers; for example in 1898 Barnett and Forster catalogue flavours include Lemon, ‘Kola’ and Ginger Beer. However, like the patent cures that were produced by chemist, every soda manufacturer appeared to have had their own recipes. These often had exotic names or alluded to have herbal or curative properties. Indeed, in an 1892 Mineral Waters Maker’s Manual, recipes are included for consumptive cough mixture, scented ointment for pimples and cattle medicine. This connection to the mixology of the chemists was also apparent at Bowler’s lab; the concentrated syrups were held in Carboys and salts measured with pharmaceutical scales. It is clear why chemists became one of the biggest outlets for soda waters.

J Bowler's 'flavour laboratory' recreated at the Museum of Bath at Work.

J Bowler’s ‘flavour laboratory’ recreated at the Museum of Bath at Work.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Collections, W. Smith's Chemist and Photographer's

Progress continues on W. Smith’s

DSCN2125

Shaun standing with the pilasters that he has made for the shop front of W.Smith’s

The exact replica of the original shop front of the building that we are copying from Elvet Bridge in Durham is under way. As you can see they have so far completed the fluted pilasters which will support the nearly completed corbels. The shop front windows have also been finished and they are currently working on making the moulded rails and stiles, as well as the frames, for the front doors.

The moulded rails for the front doors of W.Smith's.

The moulded rails for the front doors of W.Smith’s.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Progress is also continuing on site.

Progress is also continuing on site.

At the site Paul and Cos are nearly at the level of the first floor and are about to install the steel lintels that will support the opening for the glass house at rear of the building, as well as the openings along the shop front.

Leave a comment

Filed under W. Smith's Chemist and Photographer's