Heather House

From BaildonWiki
Heather House
Address No 5, Browgate
Postcode BD17 6BP
Built ????
Built by ????
Style ????
Primary Use Pharmacy
Heather House 2009.jpg
Google Maps Link

One of the distinctive buildings on Browgate is No 5 which has been a pharmacy since 1881 when Harry Robinson started his business there. The photo below is reproduced with permission and shows the building as Wm Hutchinson, Pharmaceutical Chemist.[1] It shows the building with 3 doors. The left seems to be completely separate to the centre chemist. It advertises Kodak - possibly selling Kodak film and offering a developing and printing service. The right hand door just seems to be that - a door, probably leading to the upper floor. A red and white internally illuminated sign of the right says CHEMIST

The building originally had a carved stone on the front displaying the name of the building. The small window on the first floor probably shows where this stone was but when the first floor was converted into two maisonettes it was moved to the rear of the property.[2]<Date needed>

H. Robinson advertised in the Baildon Hospital & Charities Week Official Programme on several occasions:-

No 5. Hutchinson Pharmacy. 1988

Directory and Census Listings

The Post Office and Kelly's Directories for 1883 and 1888 list Harry Robbinson as Chemist on Browgate. The 1893 directory adds ...agent for W & A Gilbey, wine & spirit merchant

The 1898 and 1912 Post Office Directories list Harry Robinson as chemist and Bradford Old Bank, 5 Browgate. The 1898 directory also lists Banks and under that section a relevant entry reads Bradford Old Bank Limited, 16 Market St; James Gordon, Manager. London agents, Lloyd's Bank, Limited. Local branches at Baildon, Gt. Horton, Idle, Shipley, Thornton and Wilsden.

The Baildon Parish magazine of 1937 has an advert for Dunlop Hot Water Bottles from 2/3 at H Robinson, M.P.S., Dispensing Chemist, Baildon, Tele: Shipley 534. Established 1881.

The 1911 Census lists Harry Robinson, Bank Manager, aged 54 living at 5 Browgate with his wife Harriet (53), sons Arthur, Pharmaceutical Chemist Manager, (27) and Harold, Stationers Assistant, (22) and daughter (18).

Harry Robinson was born 21 October 1856. He was apprenticed to a Dewsbury chemist in 1874, and qualified at the Westminster Pharmaceutical College in 1881. He opened the shop at Heather House, 5 Browgate soon after qualifying and around the same time opend the first bank in Baildon. For many years he was the only local dentist and would remove a tooth for 6d. A staunch Conservative and an Urban District Councillor from 1923 to 1932. He also sat on the Otley Bench of the West Riding Magistrates for more than 20 years, retiring when the age limit was introduced.[3]

Bradford Old Bank

A Edwick's notes, made around 1980, mention that Harry Robinson was the first Baildon agent for Barclay's Bank and was operating out of No 5 Browgate. This fits with the entries above about Bradford Old Bank. Bradford Old Bank was founded in 1803 by Edmund Peckover and his nephew Charles Harris, both of Bradford. It grew and during this growth it would appear that one of their sub-branches was at 5 Browgate, Baildon. In 1907, the bank amalgamated with the Birmingham District and Counties Banking Co. to form the United Counties Bank Ltd. and then in 1916 United Counties was acquired by Barclay and Co Ltd. and so became part of Barclay's Bank.

The main business is as a pharmaceutical chemist with Harry's son Arthur helping with that.

Also in the A Edwick notes is the mention that the safe used for the bank was still in the cellar - again this note will date back to late 1970s early 1980s. In 2019 it is apparent that the cellar has been worked on with what looks like replaced floor joists, supporting RSJs and a concrete floor. There is also evidence of changes in layout. On the right hand side of the cellar, when viewed from the Browgate front, are steps going up but no way through the floor above. This would be in line with the exterior door on the right of the building that can be seen in the photo from 1988. Was a continuation of this a way up to the doctors surgery that used to be on the first floor? There is also access from the rear of the building to that level as can be seen in the rear view photo shown further down the page. Dr Cooper was one of the GPs that used the upper floor around the 1950s.Dates needed.

5 Browgate cellar

The work being done on the cellar probably required the safe to be moved. The safe is still at the property but has now made its way to the ground floor. It was not easy to move because of its weight and, as of 2019, is upside down in a side cupboard. The lock still works so it can be confirmed that it was emptied of money on closure of the bank's business. The plate on the safe is for the company S. Withers & Co. West Bromwich. In 1900 S. WITHERS & Co. were iron safe manufacturers at Park Works, West Bromich[4] and in 1909 Samuel Withers retired and the business was transferred to his 3 sons.[5] It is therefore likely that the safe is the original one used by Harry Robinson. The Withers family had been associated with safe making since at least 1855.[6]

Safe at 5 Browgate
Brass safe plate

Heather House Carved Stone

The two photos below show the rear of No 5. One shows the Heather House carved stone.

Rear of No 5. Heather House. 2018
Rear view of Heather House. 2018

Building use

Though the main use of the building has been as a chemist there have also been other uses.

The upper floor was a Doctor's surgery but as mentioned above the floor was later split into two maisonettes. Dr Cooper was one of the doctors to use it.[7]

The left hand side of the building viewed from the front was used as a Post Office. The first time was by Mr Brook but he did not hold the position long. The Post Office then moved to Westgate House which was also Verity's Confectioners under Post Mistress Mrs James. The Post Office then moved back to Heather House under Mr Corby but he then moved the business to Westgate into one half of what had been Driver's Grocery Store. He retired in 1972.[2]

Mrs James was Post Mistress for several years and she is mentioned in the evacuee diary of Joyce Coutu. Putting the info from Joyce Coutu together with the A Edwick notes suggests that the Post Office was at No 9/9a Westgate.

Serving in WWI

Heather House gets 2 entries in the WWI list of those serving:-

  • Robinson, Arthur, Heather House.
  • Robinson, Harold, Heather House.

The census lists their ages as 27 and 22 in 1911.


  1. Photo with permission from J Hudson. Flickr
  2. 2.0 2.1 Arthur Edwick notes. Green folder
  3. Shipley Times & Express - Wednesday 30 April 1958. Baildon's Grand Old Man Dies at 101
  4. Kelly's Directory of Birmingham 1900
  5. The Free Press (a West Bromwich newspaper) of Friday October 13 1922. Obituary of S Withers.
  6. Withers entry on Wolverhampton History & Heritage Website
  7. Facebook Baildon reminiscing