Archives of James Woolley, Sons & Co. Ltd.

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Records of James Woolley Sons & Co Ltd, manufacturing chemist and druggist and pharmaceutical wholesaler of Manchester.

The archive includes articles of agreement 1872, of partnership 1890 and association 1950; ledgers, cash books, invoices, pricelists, a scrapbook of pharmaceutical adverts, deeds including some referring to the Market St premises; income tax assessments, insurance papers re. the fire at King St.; salaries and wages books, staff papers relating to working hours and conditions, staff dinners and picnics; staff magazines, a photo album, together with the personal papers of James Woolley. The collection also contains a membership certificate of the Anti-Corn Law League, and minutes of the Pharmaceutical Association Manchester branch 1841-45.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Woolley (1811-1858) started his working life as apprentice to Samuel Dean, druggist of 4 Piccadilly, Manchester, before setting up his own business as a chemist in King Street, Manchester in 1833. In 1840 he acquired R H Hargreave's business in Market Street, which had been established in 1796. Woolley was a founder member of the Manchester Pharmaceutical Society, formed in 1841 and became a Council member in 1843. On his death the business was taken over by his sons. One son, George Stephen Woolley (c.1837-1918) was responsible for developing the manufacturing side of the business. His brother, Herman was placed in charge of the manufacturing side in 1868, with another brother, Harold (1850-1889) responsible for the manufacture of scientific and surgical equipment. The business now traded as James Woolley, Sons & Co. In 1872 a fire forced the firm to relocate to Knowsley St. Cheetham, which housed its drug mills and laboratories. By 1889 the business was largely concerned with wholesale distribution of drugs and further warehouse accommodation was acquired at Victoria Bridge.

In 1895 it was incorporated as a limited liability company and in 1936 it took over J C Arnfield & Sons Ltd., a retail and wholesale chemist of Stockport, which had been established in 1786, although this continued to trade as a separate business. In 1950 James Woolley, Sons & Co. Ltd was converted to a public limited liability company. In 1962 the company was acquired, along with its subsidiary, by British Drug Houses Group Ltd., whereupon the two companies merged to form BDH (Woolley and Arnfield ) Ltd. In 1966 the wholesale distribution interest of British Drug Houses Group Ltd. and Evans Medical Ltd. merged to form Vestric Ltd.; a company with 36 trading branches including Lofthouse and Saltmer Ltd., Duncan Flockhart Ltd., and Bradley & Bliss Ltd. BDH became the Manchester branch of Vestric and ceased to trade under its established name.

Conditions Governing Access

Opne to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The archive was donated to the University of Manchester Library by the firm in 1968 [Librarian's Report, 1967/68, p.7-8.]

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies 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 University Library, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PP.

Related Material

The Library has custody of the archives of Manchester Pharmaceutical Association (MPA), of which James Woolley was a founder member.

Geographical Names