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Note: This is an abridged version of a chapter in British Commerce and Industry 1934
The incorporation of The British Drug Houses Ltd. in 1908 may therefore be regarded as a natural step in the evolution of the pharmaceutical trade. When a number of businesses have been conducted separately for over 150 years, they do not come together, join forces and amalgamate through just a passing whim. Something must be happening in their own industry to account for this.
From 1714 to 1908 – nearly 200 years — the firm of Hearon, Squire and Francis had an uninterrupted and successful existence; from 1750 to the same date, the firm of Barron, Harveys and Co; from 1755 and 1760 respectively, the firms of A. S. Hill and Son, and Davy, Yates and Co, later combined in Davy, Hill and Co; and from 1762, Hodgkinsons, Clarke and Ward.
All firms of long and honourable record, therefore of great tradition, and consequently of reputation and strength. They formed the nucleus of The British Drug Houses Ltd., under the leadership of Mr. Charles Alexander Hill, B.Sc., F.I.C.
Similarly, in 1919, after the war, the world shortage of goods in all countries stimulated British manufacturers in all industries to re-establish quickly their pre-war connections in all parts of the world, and the B.D.H., hitherto a mainly domestic institution just emerging from its infancy, also turned its attention to overseas markets. Thus, to extend these markets, an important addition to the company was made by incorporating the old-established business, founded in 1798, of George Curling, Wyman and Co, and John Wyman, export wholesale druggists.
The pooling of resources effected by this amalgamation resulted in a great increase in the overseas trade of B.D.H. and sent its products practically everywhere in the civilized globe. The company has branches, resident representatives, or exclusive agencies in all parts of the world: and in Canada and Australia, two associated companies, The British Drug Houses (Canada) Ltd., at Toronto, and The British Drug Houses (Australia) Ltd., at Sydney.
As an illustration, the B.D.H. name must always be associated with research in the field of Vitamin production and therapy, in which it is the undisputed pioneer. The B.D.H. was the first in all the world to manufacture pure Vitamins: the first to produce pure synthetic crystalline Vitamin D (calciferol) on a commercial scale. It invented the important process (which is the subject of a B.D.H. patent) for obtaining Vitamin A in a condition of practical purity. These Vitamins (A and D) are incorporated in the well-known B.D.H. specialities, Radiostoleum and Radio-Malt, the latter also containing added Vitamin B.
The B.D.H. main factories have been extended from time to time and they now occupy an area four times greater than in 1908. It is of interest that the company has just acquired an additional site in Wharf Road, including a fine, modern, fireproof building with six floors covering a space of over 25,000 feet super. Part of this building is to be devoted to export departments, formerly housed at Bunhill Row, E.C., the new arrangement facilitating business and making for economy in working. There are also numerous outbuildings, wharves and open spaces, and a water-softening plant with a capacity of 12,000 gallons per hour.
In this work the Chairman, Mr. C. A. Hill, has two colleagues who are among the most distinguished leaders of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Great Britain — Mr. R. R. Bennett, B.Sc., F.I.C., and Dr. F. H. Carr, C.B.E., D.Sc., F.I.C. The other members of the Board, equally able and enthusiastic in their particular spheres of activity, are Mr. F. C. O. Shaw and Mr. K. G. Shaw, who control the export business of the company, and Mr. C. M. Hill, who is responsible for the management of home sales.