Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England and Richard Evans, Director of Beamish Museum open the new premises.

Beamish Museum welcomed two new additions to the 1900’s Town on Friday May 6th with the opening of W.Smith Chemist and the JR & Edis Photographic Studio.

The suppliers of cure-all’s, Codd bottles and providers of quality period portraits were opened by by Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England.

The new Chemist and Photography Studio corner property at Beamish
The new Chemist and Photography Studio corner property at Beamish

Visitors can have their pictures taken in Edwardian costume in the photography studio of JR & D Edis, while at W Smith’s chemist they can try the traditionally flavoured aerated waters, help to prepare medicines, and discover miraculous “cure-alls”.

The unusual corner building was constructed mainly by the museum’s own Buildings Team and is based on a property on Elvet Bridge in Durham City. The businesses are named after chemist William Smith and photographers John Reed Edis and his daughter Daisy, who all worked in Durham City in the early 1900s.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England and Richard Evans, Director of Beamish Museum open the new premises.
Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England and Richard Evans, Director of Beamish Museum open the new premises.

Mr Henley said: “Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, is constantly evolving in its mission to give visitors first-hand experience at how life was in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In some ways a site like this is never finished – as evidenced by the opening of the chemist and photographers’ shop today – and I look forward to seeing how future developments planned for the site are realised.”

Richard Evans, Beamish’s Director, said: “These latest additions to our living museum will help Beamish broaden the stories it tells of everyday life in the North East more than a hundred years ago.
“The exhibits have been developed and built by teams of staff from right across the museum – and they are a fantastic example of what their knowledge, creativity and passion can achieve.
“We hope as many people as possible will come to the museum this year to enjoy the chemist and photographers’ – and experience a really fascinating part of our heritage being brought to back life.”

At today’s opening celebrations, Councillor John Kelly, Chairman of Beamish’s Board, said: “I want to thank people for continuing to support Beamish. Beamish is an absolutely brilliant facility for the whole of the North East region.”

Visitors can try flavoured aerated waters, such as sarsaparilla, blood tonic and kola (spelled the traditional way), served in “Codd bottles”, named after their inventor Hiram Codd. These waters were often sold as medicinal by chemists and imitated mineral waters from spas such as Harrogate and Bath.

The interior of W Smiths Chemist
The interior of W Smiths Chemist

The growing popularity of photography meant by the 1900s most towns had studios, which used their local chemist’s shop to buy the necessary chemicals for their work.

Beamish Museum is an Arts Council England’s Major Partner Museum (MPM) and leads a consortium with The Bowes Museum.

Beamish is open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm (last admission 3pm).

All images courtesy of Beamish Museum.


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I am a professional photographer,journalist and writer with over 35 years of experience in producing award-winning images and articles covering a multitude if subjects that have ranged from popular music, film and charity events to celebrity, live events and press /media coverage. Along the way, I have run my own businesses and have held editorial and photo-library managerial positions. However, photography and meeting people have always been my passions. I have been fortunate in getting to meet a number of my favourite celebrities across the years as well as many, many others. I have also covered many state events, regional events and other such occasions. Many of my favourites having been in London, South Tyneside and regions around the country. And, especially, abroad in cities such as Paris. I still get a thrill from seeing my work in print. Even after all these years.