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New additions for Beamish high street; Beamish has branched out for summer with a chemist's and a photographic studio adding to the attractions of the 1900s Town.

From cure-alls and Codd bottles to cameras and costumes, Beamish Museum has opened the doors to an Edwardian chemist's shop and photographers' studio.

At W Smith's Chemist, visitors can help to prepare medicines, discover miraculous curealls, marvel at the medical equipment and try the flavoured aerated waters, including sarsaparilla, blood tonic and kola (spelled the traditional way).

Visitors can have their picture taken in period costume at the studio of JR & D Edis Photographers and then take home a mounted print.

The new attractions in Beamish's 1900s Town were officially opened by Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England. The unusual corner building was constructed mainly by the museum's Buildings Team and is based on a property on Elvet Bridge in Durham.

The businesses recall chemist William Smith and photographers John Reed Edis and his daughter, Daisy, who all worked in Durham in the early 1900s.

Mr Henley said: "Beamish, the Living Museum of the North, is constantly evolving in its mission to give visitors first-hand experience of how life was in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

"In some ways, a site like this is never finished - as evidenced by the opening of the chemist and photographers' shop - and I look forward to seeing how future developments planned for the site are realised."

Beamish director Richard Evans said: "These latest additions to our living museum will help Beamish broaden the stories it tells of everyday life in the North East more than 100 years ago.

"The exhibits have been developed and built by teams of staff from right across the museum and they are a fantastic example of what their knowledge, creativity and passion can achieve.

"We hope as many people as possible will come to the museum this year to enjoy the chemist and photographers' studio - and experience a really fascinating part of our heritage being brought back to life."

The growing popularity of photography meant that, by the 1900s, most towns had studios, which used their local chemist's shop to buy the chemicals needed for their work.

John Reed Edis started a photography business at 27 Sherburn Road, Durham, in 1895 before moving two years later to 52 Saddler Street, where the business remained until 1964. Daughter Daisy began working with him in her teens in 1901.

Beamish has up to 600 Edis images in its collection, as well as objects and signs from his studio.

William Smith was a chemist who moved into premises on Silver Street, Durham, in 1902, not far from the corner building on Elvet Bridge. He had branches around the city and in surrounding villages. His shops in Esh Winning and Ushaw Moor are still standing. Records show that Smith sold chemicals to Edis.

In addition to exploring the new exhibits, visitors can enjoy an exciting programme of events this summer.

Roll up, roll up for the amazing Georgian Fair from June 2-5, with extraordinary entertainers, astounding animals and fantastic fun and games.

Have a go at sedan chair racing and barrel rolling, be astounded by the fire eater and falconer, meet the quack doctor, enjoy live music and clog dancing, watch craftspeople at work, browse around the stalls, see the sideshows and join the Squire of Pockerley's staff.

Volunteers Week, from the 1st to the 7th, features activities celebrating the work of Beamish's 400 volunteers, while the Sunday School Anniversary on the 12th includes a picnic in the Pit Village, sports day games, crafts and entertainment.

You can learn about policing in the past at the North East Police History Society Exhibition on the 18th and 19th June and, on the 19th (Fathers' Day), also see the annual Reliabilty Run with vintage and classic cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles starting and finishing their 150-mile run at Beamish.

Daytime events are included in the Beamish Unlimited Pass, which is valid for 12 months. For more information visit


John Reed Edis, who started his Durham photography business in 1895

The chemist's and photographic studio in the 1900s Town at Beamish
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 31, 2016
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