Victorian Pharmacy (2010)

In a unique experiment, historian Ruth Goodman, Professor Nick Barber and PhD student Tom Quick are recreating an authentic 19th-century pharmacy. Victorian pharmacies started a consumer revolution that brought healthcare, medical science, family remedies and traditional folklore to every main street. Ruth, Nick and Tom take on the challenges of the 1850s and 60s, a time when overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions had reached their peak, leading to unprecedented outbreaks of disease. 'Cure all' medicines that promised to cure virtually everything were all the rage, and the team make their own out of rhubarb, licquorice, soap and syrup. Tom attempts to emulate an ambitious Victorian publicity stunt by building his very own dog-powered mortar and pestle, but will it work?

Currently airing on TVO (Previously aired on BBC Two)

Episode 1: The Victorian pharmacy opens its doors in 1837, at the height of the industrial revolution. Overcrowding, poor sanitation and poverty left many people vulnerable to disease, but Victorian medicine had only the haziest of ideas about what caused illness or how to treat it. Many of the cures the new Barber & Goodman Pharmacy will sell are based on traditional beliefs and remedies.

Episode 2: The team take on the challenges of the 1850s and 60s, a time when overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions had reached their peak, leading to unprecedented outbreaks of disease. "Cure all" medicines were all the rage and the team make their own out of rhubarb, licorice, soap and syrup. They also venture into the uncertain world of electrotherapy and make their own disinfectant by extracting carbolic acid from coal tar.

Episode 3: The pharmacy enters a period of new invention and new laws. Narcotics were freely available across the counter throughout the Victorian era. Arsenic was the most common poison and was everywhere in the Victorian home - in wallpaper, candles, fabrics and even sweets.

Episode 4: Tom branches out into photography and dentistry using the latest technology, such as the foot-pedal dental drill. Ruth makes condoms out of sheep's intestines. Nick learns how to make the Victorian version of aspirin - producing a cure for warts and corns along the way. And for those customers who like a little pampering, the team turn their hands to making their very own brand of perfume.

As they shut up shop for the last time, the team reflect on a revolution in public healthcare that put a chemist's shop in every town in the country.

[You can watch all 4 episodes on Youtube below]


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4 comments:

  1. I saw the first episode of this one on TVO. I find this stuff endlessly fascinating! I loved Ruth Goodman in the Victorian Farm shows. She will do anything in the name of historical accuracy!
    Apparently I missed the second episode, but I'll have to catch the next one on Monday. Thanks!

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  2. I didn't know that it was on TVO until I heard about the series elsewhere. Did you know that all 4 episodes are embedded above unless you prefer not to watch it on Youtube?

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  3. Wonderful! Our Family Drug Store was opened in 1860. So this is marvelously interesting to us.

    Thank you!!!

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  4. I would love to watch this--sounds so interesting. Thanks for the heads up.

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