Saltaire Village, World Heritage Site




The Saltaire Sentinel
Saltaire Village World Heritage Site
Saltaire Sentinel
Back button | The Saltaire Sentinel | November 06


Jack Grimley, who owned and ran the local chemist's shop at No.12 Victoria Road, was one of the most important men in the Village in the 1950s and 60s. No.12 was one of those shops which had not changed its function since it was built by Sir Titus in the 1850s.

Victoria RoadGeorge Baylet was the original chemist in 1871, followed by Mr. Charlesworth and then it became the Albion Drug Company, owned by Arthur Albert Abbott. Arthur was followed by Clarence Richardson, whose main chemist's shop was at 30, Bingley Road. Clarence was a flamboyant personality, invariably wearing a bow tie. He was also a Conservative councillor. His son Tony became a famous film director and married Vanessa Redgrave.
Jack, who had trained at Bradford Technical College (now the University) and worked as a chemist for J R Leach in Queensbury, bought the shop from Clarence in 1951. With 3,500 people at that time employed in the Mill and/or living in the Village, he reckoned he would never be short of customers!
One of the early changes he made was to diversify his stock and expand the wines and spirits sales, which soon accounted for 25% of the business. While tonic wines, less attractive to smash and grab thieves, adorned the window, there were some fifty bottles of wines and spirits on a large marble counter inside.
Jack also expanded into photographic equipment and stocked a few cameras in the days when you could buy a Box Brownie for around 7/6d.
The pharmacy side of the business, though,  was always the most important. Popular remedies sold at the shop included Veno's and Owbridge's cough syrup for 1/3d and 2/6d a bottle and tonics such as Clarke's Blood Mixture selling at 3/- and 5/-. Jack and his staff of two packed their own aspirin tablets and charged 6d for a hundred. They made a profit of 2d on each bottle, the remainder being accounted for by the bottle, with its cork-lined cap and cotton wool insert, and labour. The cost of the aspirin was practically negligble!
Jack bought the cottage on Caroline Street next to the shop for £700. He knocked out the front of the cottage on the ground floor to accommodate his car, but kept the first floor intact, with a new internal doorway linking the shop with some stairs up to the expanded storeroom. He lined the store with orange boxes from Harney's greengrocery next door, to keep his medicines in. (The cottage has since been rebuilt.) Jack closed the shop on Christmas Eve 1976, when his customer base was much reduced by redundancies at the Mill, but continued to live above the shop for a while longer. Ninety-five years old this month, Jack Grimley is currently in a local care home, with the loving support of daughters Jennifer and Jaqueline. His contribution to the health of villagers for twenty-five years is something of which he is justly proud.                                             

Roger Clarke

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