Boots the Chemist

Boots are one of the most familiar names in High Streets across the United Kingdom and beyond. Very few people, however, would realise that this gigantic pharmaceutical corporation started from just one tiny shop in Nottingham.

The founder of this vast retail empire, Jesse Boot, was born in the city on June 2nd 1850. His father was a farm labourer called John, and his mother was originally named Mary Wells. The family lived in an area of the town called Hockley, which at that time was extremely poor and overcrowded. John Boot opened a herbal remedy shop locally in 1849, but unfortunately he passed away in early 1860. His mother, by now the Widow Mary Boot, decided to enrol their son, Jesse, in the Nottingham Free School. On Thursday, July 19th, of that year, at the age of eleven years and one month, Jessy (sic) Boot was included on the register as a pupil at the Free School.

He first attended the School in July of 1861, and was to remain in Mr Field’s English Department until his departure in August 1863, a period of just over two years.

free school

While her son learnt high standards of reading, writing and arithmetic, Mrs Boot continued with the shop, helped out by her family and friends, and, from 1863, when he left the Free School, by her son Jesse. By 1871, Jesse was a co-partner with his mother in the imaginatively named “M & J Boot”.

0boots_archive_01_470x305

In 1883 the shop became “Boot and Company Limited”. The horse was delighted…

horse cartboots

The business then expanded to Sheffield in 1884.

bootssheffield

By 1900 there were Boots’ shops over the whole country, reaching their peak with 560 branches in 1913. This particular one was in Glasgow.

glasgow

The business was eventually sold by Sir Jesse Boot, who became 1st Baron Trent in 1917. It was bought by the Americans for £2.25 million,

america drug st

In 1933, however, during the Great Depression, the company was re-acquired by a British syndicate. Its head was the grandson of the founder, John Boot, who had inherited the title of Baron Trent from his father, who had recently died in Jersey in 1931.

Nowadays, Boots is a familiar High Street brand name…

boots_logo

Their staff are deliberately clad in quasi-medical uniforms to look more professional

uniform

But they are lovely, caring people…

They sell makeup

and love to dress up at Christmas…

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1 Comment

Filed under History, Nottingham, Science, The High School

One response to “Boots the Chemist

  1. I love reading this kind of history, the stuff not many people know about.

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