New Chemist and Photographers Now Open

May 7th 2016

Our new chemist’s and photographers have been officially opened by Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England.

Visitors can have their pictures taken in Edwardian costume in the photography studio of JR & D Edis, while at W Smith’s Chemist they can try the traditionally flavoured aerated waters, help to prepare medicines, and discover miraculous “cure-alls”.


The unusual corner building, which is in Beamish’s 1900s Town, was constructed mainly by the museum’s own Buildings Team and is based on a property on Elvet Bridge in Durham City. The businesses are named after chemist William Smith and photographers John Reed Edis and his daughter Daisy, who all worked in Durham City in the early 1900s.

Mr Henley said: “Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, is constantly evolving in its mission to give visitors first-hand experience at how life was in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In some ways a site like this is never finished – as evidenced by the opening of the chemist and photographers shop today – and I look forward to seeing how future developments planned for the site are realised.”

Richard Evans, Beamish’s Director, said: “These latest additions to our living museum will help Beamish broaden the stories it tells of everyday life in the North East more than a hundred years ago.

“The exhibits have been developed and built by teams of staff from right across the museum – and they are a fantastic example of what their knowledge, creativity and passion can achieve.

“We hope as many people as possible will come to the museum this year to enjoy the chemist and photographers’ – and experience a really fascinating part of our heritage being brought to back life.”

At the opening celebrations on 6th May, Councillor John Kelly, Chairman of Beamish’s Board, said: “I want to thank people for continuing to support Beamish. Beamish is an absolutely brilliant facility for the whole of the North East region.”


Visitors can try flavoured aerated waters, such as sarsaparilla, blood tonic and kola (spelled the traditional way), served in “Codd bottles”, named after their inventor Hiram Codd. These waters were often sold as medicinal by chemists and imitated mineral waters from spas such as Harrogate and Bath.

The growing popularity of photography meant by the 1900s most towns had studios, which used their local chemist’s shop to buy the necessary chemicals for their work.

Beamish Museum is an Arts Council England’s Major Partner Museum (MPM) and leads a consortium with The Bowes Museum.