Street View: 25
Address: 35 Piccadilly

Before 1837, the chemist’s shop at 35 Piccadilly, on the corner of Swallow Street, was occupied by John Knaggs who dissolved a partnership with one Jeremiah Pereira on the 4th of May, 1835.(1) Pereira is listed for the property in the tax records for 1835 and 1836, but by 1837, Nathaniel Jones Woolley had taken over and advertisements began to appear in the newspapers listing him as one of the addresses where corn plasters and cough lozenges could be bought.

Advertisement in The London Dispatch and People’s Political and Social Reformer, 28 January 1838

By the time Tallis came round to gather information for his Street View, Woolley was well-established and even thought it worth his while to invest in the vignette Tallis included in his Street View. The chemist’s is prominently depicted, although Woolley still added ‘successor to Knaggs and Co’ to his name to make sure everyone knew his firm had been there for quite some time and he was not just a new kid on the block. Also included in Tallis’s booklet was an advertisement of 1/3 page, once again advertising cough lozenges.

advertisement in The Fleet Papers, 27 March 1841

The London Gazette, 8 July 1851

A notice in The Chartist of 19 May 1839 listed the marriage of Nathaniel Woolley to Ann Mary, the only daughter of William Brown Esq. of St. Alban’s on the 14th of that month, but the 1841 census gives a Robert Haynes, chemist, and his wife Sarah, at number 35, with no trace of Woolley. Things had not gone well for Woolley and the 1851 census lists him, 39 years old and originally from Northampstonshire, in the debtors’ prison in Whitecross Street. He is listed as a surgeon. His fellow prisoner were mainly professional men, such as architects, bakers and engineers, all fallen on hard times. The entry in The London Gazette for the prisoners brought before the bankruptcy court on the 22nd of July, 1851, gives us more information about Woolley’s whereabouts before his bankruptcy. It is a rather long list of addresses and – apparently failed – employments. Two years later, another notice in The London Gazette (28 June 1853), has him once again in the debtor’s prison with a former address of 9, Sussex Street, Wandsworth Road.

In the mean time, the chemist’s shop at number 35 was run by Robert Haynes until 1843. The 1843 Post Office Directory still lists Haynes, but the tax records for 1843 already have William Higgs on the premises. He managed to stay on for a lot longer than his two predecessors, as he was still in Piccadilly in the late 1860s. Besides a chemist, Higgs was also a soda water manufacturer. Carbonated water had been invented in the late 1760s (see here), but in the 1830s, dispensing fountains were developed to ease distribution (see here). Soda water was thought to be beneficial and chemists were quick to introduce the fountains in their shops.

Soda fountain from the Industrial History of the United States, 1878

1880 Land tax record for the five redeemed properties

In 1851, an advertisement concerning the sale of the leasehold of 35 Piccadilly appeared in the newspapers and it tell us that it was held on lease from the Crown at a ground rent of £88 5s and that the “highly respectable” tenant paid £170 a year. The let was to expire in 1855 and the rent was then expected to rise to £220. In 1868, the highly respectable Higgs is still listed in the tax records, but in 1870, the names for numbers 33, 34 and 35 were all preceded by ‘late’ and ‘redeemed Lady Day 1870’, suggesting that the leaseholder or the Crown had other plans with the properties. In 1872, two more shops, numbers 36 and 37, were added to the list of redeemed properties, but nothing much seems to have happened as the situation was still the same in the 1885 tax records. By 1889, however, a new building housed the Counties and Capital Bank (photo here), but that building did not make it to the present time either as the satellite view below shows.

Google satellite view, showing number 35 opposite St. James’s Church

(1) The London Gazette, 12 May 1835.


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