Skip to main content
Close menu

Chemists to the nation, pharmacy to the world

An international history of Boots the Chemists promises to shed new light on a Nottingham company that has grown to be a global player
Vision Arts and Culture Chemists to the nation, pharmacy to the world

An international history of Boots the Chemists promises to shed new light on a Nottingham company that has grown to be a global player. 

From humble beginnings with a single shop on Goose Gate, to a world-famous brand with more than 2,500 stores, Boots marks 170 years in business this year. 

But how did it grow into one of the most iconic names on the high street? What part did it play in the creation of modern consumerism, and the multi-billion pound beauty and healthcare industries? 

These are some of the questions we’ll be answering in our research project, Chemists to the Nation, Pharmacy to the World, looking at the Boots approach to innovation with products like the sodium-derived Chloramine-T, a new antiseptic manufactured in response to the medical emergency caused by World War One.

The project will reveal for the first time the international networks of raw materials, markets, ideas, and personnel on which Boots’ success was built
Dr Anna Greenwood

Chloramine-T (para-toluene-sodium-sulphochloramide) was described as heralding a new era in antiseptics, with gauze that could be used in heavily infected wounds. The story of Chloramine-T illustrates how Boots responded to the national crisis of war and the loss of German pharmaceutical supplies, how this stimulated research and development at home and was very consciously used in Boots’ marketing of the product. 

The project will reveal for the first time the international networks of raw materials, markets, ideas, and personnel on which Boots’ success was built. 

It will be the first project to explore the life cycle of key beauty and healthcare products, from their development and manufacture, to their retail and corporeal consumption, providing key new insights into the creation of modern consumerism.

Anna Greenwood

Dr Anna Greenwood is an Associate Professor, Department of History.

Vision magazine front cover - Issue 4, Autumn 2019

Get the latest news and updates

 

Subscribe to Vision