Beamish celebrates Sunderland's role in the history of pharmacy

One of the North East’s most popular visitor attractions is helping the University of Sunderland mark a very special milestone.

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Rosie Nichols is Keeper of Social History at the world famous open air museum.

Rosie Nichols, Keeper of Social History at Beamish Museum joins her colleagues Carl McSorley (left) and Matthew Henderson at the Edwardian Chemist and Dispensary ahead of the University of Sunderland's Pharmacy Centenary celebration virtual tour event.

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    She said: “We are thrilled to be part of the Sunderland School of Pharmacy’s centenary celebrations; to be able show everyone what pharmacy would have been like when Hope Winch first entered the profession and then when the first students were training at the School.”

    It all began in March 1921, when Hope Constance Monica Winch arrived in Sunderland with the ambition to set up the finest Pharmacy department in the North East.

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    Three students and 25 ex-servicemen were the first to attend and thanks to Hope’s vision and determination, over the last century many thousands of young people have studied at the Sunderland School of Pharmacy.

    Those who attend the virtual tour on Friday, October 1, will be able to see all of W Smith’s Chemist’s old shop paraphernalia, ointments and products, as well as learn how medicines were made and how pharmacists were trained back in the 1900s.

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    Pioneering pharmacy educator Hope Winch

    Sunderland School of Pharmacy played a key role in helping set up this particular exhibit.

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    “We already had a lot of objects in the collection that we collected from pharmacies that had been established since the 1900s and some a little bit earlier,” Rosie said.

    “But everything was dirty, we didn’t know what the contents were, and we were a little bit worried about putting those on display with visitors and staff working with them on a daily basis.

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    “So, the School were very kind in helping us clean things so that they are able to be in this room today. They also very kindly helped us figure out what the substances inside would have originally looked like. We’re social historians here, we’re not scientists!”

    Dr Adrian Moore
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    Rosie added: “They also trained members of our staff in traditional pharmaceutical techniques such as pill and balm making and took us around the School, and we got to wear lab coats and that was very exciting.”

    Dr Adrian Moore is Head of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Sunderland, recently shortlisted as University of the Year, in this year’s THE – Times Higher Education – annual awards

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    He said: “In this the centenary year of Pharmacy education in Sunderland, I can’t think of a better way to reflect on that journey than first exploring the day-to-day pharmaceutical services offered by a typical regional Edwardian pharmacy; then for us to take the opportunity to consider how pharmacy care and services, the role of the pharmacist and the pharmacy profession have evolved and transformed for the benefit of patients, carers and their communities.

    “The pharmacy profession continues to offer expanding opportunities and I am inspired by the future prospects.”

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    Rosie Nichols, Keeper of Social History at Beamish Museum joins her colleague Carl McSorley at the Edwardian Chemist and Dispensary.
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    General view of the Edwardian Chemist and Dispensary at Beamish Museum.