Manchester Pharmaceutical Association Archive

Scope and Content

The archive of the Manchester Pharmaceutical Association and the Manchester, Salford and District branch of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, to which the association became constitutionally connected, comprises minutes, reports, membership and financial records. The records of both bodies are treated as part of the same archive, given these very close constitutional connections, but most records relate to the MPA.

The archive comprises a largely complete (to 1973) set of minutes books of the Association Council and Branch Executive (MPA/1/2-3), as well as minutes of the original Chemists' Society. Other records are more sporadic but include an incomplete sets of annual reports and accounts, membership records, and Association publications. MPA/6 consists of miscellaneous records of pharmaceutical education, including the surviving student registers of the Manchester School (College) of Pharmacy; the latter are of some significance as they are the only known records of the School. MPA/7 comprises miscellaneous material of the Association including a number of papers relating to the service of Association members during the First and Second World Wars. MPA/8 includes an autograph book of pharmacists' signatures and a herbal, which were previously donated to the Association, and were probably part of its small library.

Administrative / Biographical History

During the nineteenth century, pharmacists became a more defined occupational group, and established professional organisations to protect their interests. Pharmacists defended these interests against rogue practitioners, as well as against the medical profession, if it was felt the latter was encroaching on their areas of expertise.

The most significant development in this process was the establishment of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain in 1841, which lobbied for greater regulation of the profession and supported the professional education of pharmacists. In 1852, the Pharmacy Act established a register of practising pharmacists, which the PSGB supported, and in 1868 further legislation effectively restricted pharmaceutical practice to PSGB members, and required new pharmacists to have passed examinations. Pharmacists were now required to pass a Minor examination in order to practise and a Major exam, if they wished to undertake more advanced work. In 1919, a defined pharmaceutical syllabus was agreed for educating pharmacists, and from 1967, new pharmacists were required to have a degree in their subject.

In Manchester the first occupational group for pharmacists was the Apothecaries, Chemists and Druggists' Society, established in 1828. This seems to have lasted until at least 1837. In 1841, following the creation of the PSGB, a local branch was set up in Manchester; whether this had any direct connections with the earlier society is unclear. This branch supported the work of the PSGB, the latter being mainly restricted to the London area in its membership. By the late 1840s, this branch was dormant, but appears to have revived following the passing of the 1852 Pharmacy Act, when it became known as the Chemists' Conversational Society. This body merged in 1855 with another local body, the Chemists and Druggists Institute to form a Manchester Pharmaceutical Association. Like earlier initiatives, this seems to have struggled after a few years of meetings, and was moribund by the 1860s. In 1868, in light of a new Pharmacy Act , the Manchester Chemists and Druggists' Association was established and in 1883 it changed its name to the Manchester Pharmaceutical Association.

The Association took a very close interest in pharmaceutical education in the local area. It helped establish the Manchester School of Pharmacy, which it owned until 1882. The School took the leading role for many years in educating pharmacists in Manchester. From 1883, Owens College provided regular pharmaceutical classes for aspiring pharmacists as well as medical students, and established its own pharmaceutical department. In addition, a Northern College of Pharmacy also provided teaching between 1890 and 1918. Both the School of Pharmacy and the Northern College were located close to the University of Manchester, but were entirely independent of it. In 1928, the Manchester College of Pharmacy (as it now as called) merged with the University's pharmacy department, which has played the leading role in pharmaceutical education in Manchester ever since.

As well as supporting educational work, the MPA helped regulate the pharmacy trade in the Manchester area, and promoted various social and charitable activities amongst its membership. In the 1920s, it was felt that there was a need to have stronger links with the PSGB and consequently the Manchester, Salford and District branch of the Pharmaceutical Society was formed in 1922. For practical purposes, the Branch and the Association operated as a single administrative body. In 2010, the regulatory powers of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (as the PSGB had become in 1988) were transferred to the newly formed General Pharmaceutical Council, and the educational work of the Society's branches ceased.


  • MPA/1 - Minutes
  • MPA/2 - Annual Reports
  • MPA/3 - Membership records
  • MPA/4 - Financial records
  • MPA/5 - Association publications
  • MPA/6 - Pharmaceutical Education
  • MPA/7 - Other Association records
  • MPA/8 - Non-Association documents

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Acquisition Information

The archive was donated to the Library by Manchester Pharmaceutical Association in 1989.

Archivist's Note

The archive has been substantially reorganised since an earlier listing undertaken in the 1990s. Former references of items are indicated.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Appraisal Information

Collection has been appraised as part of reorganisation. Appraisal report available.


Accruals possible.

Related Material

The also holds the records of the Manchester firm of wholesale and retail chemists, James Woolley, Sons & Co. Ltd. (WOL). James Woolley was involved with the MPA's predecessor bodies, and several members of the family were involved with the MPA. The Woolley archive includes two items of the Manchester branch of the Pharmaceutical Society: a subscription book, 1841-1844, WOL5/2/1, and a minute book, 1841-1846, 1852, WOL5/2/2.


Brian Robinson, The history of pharmaceutical education in Manchester (University of Manchester, 1986) , which used material from this collection, discusses the role of the MPA and its predecessors in educating Manchester pharmacists.

Geographical Names