There are several “chemists and druggists” recorded in the Trade Directories for Rushden from 1847 onwards, and at Rushden Museum we have a few artefacts bearing the names of some of them. One of these is Charles Smith, chemist and druggist, who traded at 29 High Street, Rushden.
Charles Smith was born in 1864 at Higham Ferrers, and was the son of John and Eliza Smith. John Smith was a cooper and they lived in North End, Higham Ferrers.
By 1881 John Smith had obviously improved his business because he was employing 2 men and the family were living on the Market Square. By this time Charles was 17 and was working as a Dispenser to a Surgeon. Dr. Crew was also living on the Market Square, so could Charles have been working for him? In the 1891 census Charles’ occupation is given as chemist and druggist although he was still living with his parents on the Market Square, Higham Ferrers.
He is first recorded in the 1890 Trade Directory for Rushden. In 1891 he married Bertha Pickering and they had two sons, Eric, born in 1893, and Wilfred, born in 1898.
Charles remained at 29 High Street, Rushden until 1919 when he sold the business to Boots Cash Chemist. Following that he occupied the upstairs part of the premises as Smith and Cottingham, opticians, and traded at that address until the start of WWII. We don’t have anything in the museum from the chemist shop, but we do have a pair of glasses in their case from Smith & Cottingham. By 1940 only L. G. Cottingham is recorded in the Trade Directory. Charles Smith died in October 1947, leaving a widow and two sons. He was buried in Higham Ferrers Cemetery.
Boots still remain at 29 High Street, Rushden.
A postcard of Rushden High Street with the Smith’s sign on the far left of the picture.
An advert from the Rushden Echo.
Boots at 27 & 29 High Street, Rushden in January 2019.