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13 November 2014

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You are in: Nottingham > History > Local history > Notts treasures: The last bottle of Bronchiline

Bronchiline bottle in the Ruddington Village Museum

Notts treasures: The last bottle of Bronchiline

A remedy for chest complaints, Bronchiline never made its inventor rich but was very popular in its day.

Whilst the county's most famous chemist, Jesse Boot, was turning his father's company into a national retailer in the early 1900s, the Phethean family were creating their own little empire in Ruddington, south Nottinghamshire.

They set up shop at 12 High Street in 1905 and for most of the last century produced potions for the paying public.

In the back room of the shop, the bit through the hatch the customers wouldn't really see, three generations of Phetheans made up all the medicines from raw ingredients.

This room has now been reconstructed in Ruddington Village Museum after it was saved from the skip in the late 1970s.

The formula:

Acid Acetic Glacial part .01, Tinct. Capsic. part .002, Glycerin part .175, Syrupus Tolutan. part .175, Tinct. Ipecacuan. part .07, Liq. Chlorof. Co. 1885 part .03, Syrupus Scillae part .175, Syrupus Rhoead. part .35.

Best seller

Before the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948, due to expense, people would bypass the doctor and go straight to the chemist to seek advice, tonics and other patent recipes.

One of the remedies offered in Ruddington was Bronchiline, something of the Phethean family's own invention.

Chemists were regulated with formal qualifications and examinations from the end of the 19th century. Curator of the Ruddington Village Museum, Gavin Walker says Bronchiline would have had some reasonable basis for its constituents.

"They made it up in vast vats at the back of the shop at the beginning of the winter and bottled it themselves... and people swore by it."

It was said to cure bronchitis, coughs, colds, asthma, sore throats, hoarseness, difficult breathing and other chest ailments arising from chills.

As the label states, 'It warms the chest if swallowed slowly and allowed to trickle down the throat'.

Bronchiline bottle in the Ruddington Village Museum

"The closest equivalent [nowadays] would be one of these expectorant cough medicines."

Ruddington Village Museum

At the museum in Ruddington you will find a reconstruction of the back room of the chemists, as it would have looked for much of the 20th century.

In the 1990s the Phethean family sold out to a larger company and a chemist still trades from the premises.

Retired pharmacist Ken Phethean still lives in Ruddington and visits the museum every ten years just to make sure things are in the right place.

last updated: 13/05/2009 at 17:57
created: 21/04/2009

You are in: Nottingham > History > Local history > Notts treasures: The last bottle of Bronchiline

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