Street Views: 63 and 70
Address: 25 Princes Street, corner Old Compton Street
The chemist, J.C. Addison, had a corner shop and as both streets were included in the Tallis Street Views, he had the privilege of appearing twice in the booklets. The elevation above is from booklet 63, the Old Compton Street side, and below you can see the side in Princes (from 1878 named Wardour) Street from booklet 70. The wall on the right-hand side is the wall around the churchyard of St. Anne’s, Soho.
Tallis also included a vignette showing both sides of the chemist’s shop, an illustration no doubt paid for by Addison himself.
So, who was this Addison? The first record I found for him was a letter sent by him in October 1837 to the editor of The Lancet contradicting the claim of one Dr. Traill who allegedly discovered the use of antimony as a pigment. Addison claimed to have done the same two years previously. The year after, on 19 December 1838, John Christopher Addison married Ann Unthank at St. James’s, Westminster, and the couple, and their young daughter Isabella, are indeed found in Princes Street at the time of the 1841 census. Also living with them is Robert Price, a chemist’s assistant and Leah Fisher, a servant. As the building was a fairly large one, the Addisons rented out some rooms to Henry Whitacker, an artist, and his family. The 1843 Post Office Directory still lists Addison at 25 Princes Street, but an advertisement in The Lancet of 24 August 1844, names Messrs. Gill and Peppin at the corner premises. Addison must have moved, although it is not entirely clear why, and in 1848, his name is listed among the bankrupts as “formerly of no. 5 Church Street, Chelsea, chemist and druggist, occasionally selling grocery and tallow chandlery, and now of no. 20 Sussex Street, Tottenham Court Road, out of business”.(1)
In 1849, George Wadman Gill and Sydenham Henry Peppin at 25 Princes Street dissolved their partnership and all debts were to be settled with Mr. Peppin.(2) So, we can forget about Addison and Gill and continue the research with Peppin who married Emma Louisa Pain in October 1850 at the parish chapel, St. Pancras. She is the daughter of Charles Pain, a solicitor, and he is the son of another Sydenham Henry Peppin, a clergyman(3). The 1851 census lists the couple at 25 Princes Street and it tells us that Sydenham is 34 years old and originally from Devon. In 1854, Peppin’s name appears unfavourably in a list of suppliers of adulterated opium. The Lancet published a report into the adulterations of powdered opium and sample 24 was bought from Peppin. It was found to be “largely adulterated; contains much poppy-capsule, and a considerable quantity of wheat flour, probably the burnt crust of bread”. Peppin was not alone as most samples were adulterated, but whether that was done by the London chemists, or abroad at source is not made clear in the individual cases.(4)
Peppin continued to sell his patent medicines from 25 Princes Street, and after his retirement (the 1871 census has him as ‘proprietor of land’ in Harpford, Devon), a number of chemists ran the shop. The 1871 census finds Henry B. Ellis, a student of medicine and chemist, on the premises, and also Charles Cary, an assistant.
At some point the house numbering changed and number 25 became number 52. In the 1881 census William Hairsine and his family are living at number 52. William is listed as a chemist, employing three men. Two of the assistants are living above the shop, one of them is the very same Charles Cary whom we already saw in 1871 and who continued to work at number 25/52, at least until 1901 when the census found him there. Also there in 1901 is Mary Christie, the housekeeper, who moved to Hampstead with Hairsine when he retired (1911 census).(5) Collage has a nice photograph of the shop front, which they date to 1909 (see here). The windows and doors look just the same as they did in the elevation at the top of this post. The name of S.H. Peppin can still be seen above the door, but the fascias above the windows, which once showed the name of Addison, give the name of W. Hairsine.
Despite the fact that Harsine retired, the shop continued under his name, although the proprietors were in fact Ellerington & Scott until early 1927 when their business was bought by Heppells Ltd.(6) In 1909, Westminster Council was planning the widening of Wardour Street for which they wanted to demolished part of Hairsine’s shop. He was offered £5,500 compensation, which he accepted, but there was a complication as the Improvements Committee reports: “We have received a report from the Valuation Surveyor to the effect that a lease of the premises for 21 years from Christmas 1908, at a rent of £230 per annum, has now been granted by Mr. Hairsine, the recent purchaser of the premises, to Messrs Ellerington & Scott, chemists, sometimes trading as Frizell & Co. It is stated that the lessees are about to expend the sum of £640 in a new shop front and the building of a small shop in the rear of the premises. The lessees are said to have sub-let the whole of the upper part of the premises at a rent of £122 per annum inclusive of rates”. Ellerington & Co also wanted compensation and negotiated for such with the council. The Improvements Committee reported that “after negotiation we are now informed that the Surveyor acting for Messrs Ellerington & Scott is prepared to advise the acceptance by his clients of £1.000”. But that was not all, they also wanted a building lease for 80 years at a ground rent of £60. The council agreed to Elleringtons terms on the condition that he sorted things out with the sub-lessees.(7)
World War II caused a lot of destruction in the area and the church of St. Anne was badly damaged. Today, the building at number 52 still shows a peculiar small extension at the back, but I do not know whether that was the original extension at the back that Ellerington & Scott had in mind, or whether it is a replacement necessary because of war damage, or even a more recent replacement. Although no longer a chemist’s, the building still retains a physical link to the past, as on the wall at the back, the word ‘chemist’ can clearly be seen. The fence in the front of the picture is a recent replacement at St. Anne’s Churchyard.
(1) He can be found at various addresses afterwards, still as a chemist and druggist. The last address before he died in 1872 was Townsend Street, Old Kent Road.
(2) The London Gazette, 10 April 1849.
(3) He was the vicar at Branscombe from 1837 till his death in 1867.
(4) The Lancet, 1854. Online here.
(5) William died 30 December 1916. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1917. Estate valued at over £3100.
(6) The Chemist and Druggist, 30 August 1919 and 5 February 1927.
(7) Westminster City Council, Minutes of Proceedings of the Mayor, Alderman, and Councillors, 1909 (London, 1910).
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