As featured on The Repair Shop to be aired Wednesday 29 April 8pm BBC1
In 1974 a mammoth task was achieved when Steward’s Chemist Shop, formerly situated on Worcester High Street, was relocated lock, stock and many bottles to Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum on Foregate Street. Thanks to BBC1’s programme The Repair Shop, the final piece of the Steward’s Chemist Shop jigsaw will be put in place as the Stewards’ family have very kindly gifted to the Art Gallery & Museum the original lamp which hung outside the Chemists, following its repair on the popular BBC TV programme.
The lamp was donated by Malcolm Steward, the great grandson of John Alfred Steward who in 1874 bought the chemist shop at 27 High Street Worcester from Walter Woods. John Alfred continued to manage the chemist shop until handing over to his son Charles Alfred in 1905. During this period John Alfred was twice Mayor of Worcester in 1899 and again in 1901. The business stayed in the family until it ceased in 1973 and its contents offered to the Art Gallery & Museum, going on public display in 1978. Malcolm was given various items from the shop as souvenirs including the large but by then broken lamp which hung outside. In 2018 Malcolm Steward approached the BBC TV programme The Repair Shop to repair the lamp to its former glory and following its repair Malcolm has very generously donated the lamp to the Art Gallery & Museum.
Garston Phillips, now retired Curator at the Art Gallery & Museum says: “I was personally involved with relocating the Chemist Shop to the Art Gallery & Museum in 1974, it is extremely pleasing to have the lamp given to us to complete the shop. We are very grateful to Malcom Steward and his family not only for the lamp but for entrusting the Museum with the Chemist Shop, enabling visitors to see this element of the city’s history which will have been a part of everyday life for many generations of Worcester residents.”
Following its repair, the lamp is now on display in the recreated Chemist Shop in Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum. Although the museum is sadly currently closed due to coronavirus, it can be explored digitally in the 360-degree interactive below.
Social History Curator David Nash says “We look forward to welcoming visitors back into the Art Gallery & Museum in the future and hope they enjoy seeing this fabulous piece of Worcester’s history, now complete thanks to the Steward family and The Repair Shop.”
To find out more about the Art Gallery & Museum, its displays and how we are staying connected to our visitors whilst we are closed please see www.museumsworcestershire.org.uk/collections/.
Notes from a conversation with Malcolm Steward…
“My great grandfather John Alfred Steward bought the chemist shop at 27 High Street Worcester in 1874 from Walter Woods and at that point ‘Steward’s Chemist’ was born. He continued to manage the chemist’s until handing over to his son Charles Alfred in 1905. During this period John Alfred was twice Mayor of Worcester in 1899 and 1901. Charles Alfred managed the shop until his death in 1930, at which time my Uncle Charles Cyprian was at Aston University doing his pharmacy degree, so my father Francis managed the shop with locum pharmacists undergoing the pharmaceutical dispensing until Cyprian qualified as a pharmacist and took over the business, which he ran until the end of 1973 when it ceased trading. At this time I was also studying pharmacy and my father thought I may like a few items from the family Chemist shop before they all went to the museum, so he collected a few items, among which was a large, but somewhat broken lamp, bearing the inscription Steward Chemist. This lamp would have hung outside the chemist shop, probably since the Victorian years when it would originally have been a gaslight, being converted to electricity at a later date.
For many years I made several failed attempts to get the lamp restored, with the intention that it would look very smart hung outside my house with its inscription Steward Chemist, as that would indeed have been most appropriate. In 2018 my wife and I saw a programme on the television called The Repair Shop (BBC), in which people took old items which were in need of repair and the programme had experts that did this. My wife applied to the programme for the lamp to be restored and they found the story and the fact that I wished to reunite it with the Chemist Shop in Worcester Museum as I am now retired, of great interest.”