Pills & Potions

Pharmacy in Tayside

carbolic medicine label paraffin medicine label

A Tayside Medical History Museum exhibition

Medical School Foyer, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee
April - November 2006


Re-displayed at Sensation, Dundee's Science Centre
September 2008 - March 2010

For information on opening times and prices, visit Sensation's website


Until around 150 years ago, anyone could call themselves a chemist or druggist. The first steps in regulating the profession came in 1841 with the founding of the Pharmaceutical Society. Membership was based on a recognised qualification, and in 1852 the first Register of Pharmaceutical Chemists was set up. Further Acts in 1868, 1898 and 1908 increased the powers of the Society and ensured that only registered pharmacists were legally entitled to practice.

This exhibition features material from chemist's shops across Tayside, some from the museum's own collection and some on loan from the private collection of local pharmacist Joe Richards, who also helped to prepare this exhibition. If you have any interesting artefacts from Tayside phamacies that you would like to donate to the museum, please contact us.

advert for Campbell's Drug Stores

19th century advert for Campbell's Hilltown Drug Stores, Dundee
(Courtesy of Dundee Central Library Local History department)


advert for Davidson & Gray's

The late 19th century saw a great boom in the pharmacy profession. In 1850, there were 11 chemists practising in Dundee (listed as 'apothecaries'). By 1900 there were 34, and some owned more than one store.

Boots opened its first shop in Dundee in 1914 - it now has 9 branches across Tayside.

Image right:

John Gray came to Dundee in 1876 as an apprentice to local chemist James Davidson. Seven years later they became partners, and Gray took over the business on Davidson's death in 1896. The firm became the largest pharmaceutical business in Dundee, and were soon supplying most of the chemist shops in the area.



John Anderson, Chemist

John Anderson came to Dundee in 1875 to run
D H Ferrier's pharmacy in the Hilltown.
In 1903 he started his own practice in Strathmartine Road.
Soon after he was elected President of the
Dundee & Forfarshire Chemists' Association.

DRI Pharmacy

The Dundee Royal Infirmary Pharmacy, c 1930s, with Mr Hood centre.

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