Friday, 3 July 2015

Chemist and Optometrist Jack Armitstead

Armitstead's Pharmacy, Warwick

Having been questioned many times about my relationship to Jack Armitstead I began to realise that the grandfather that died when I was 2 weeks old must have been very well known. It didn't matter that I was far away from his hometown of Warwick or not. As I travelled all over Queensland with work I was amazed at the places I found someone who still remembered him.
Our ever trusty Trove digitised newspapers certainly showed me why he was well known. As well as being the Chemist and Optician in Warwick he played lawn bowls and more lawn  bowls and yet more lawn  bowls but more of that in another post.
Today he is Chemist and Optician. He trained as a chemist in Ripon  Yorkshire and the next information we have is that he worked as an optician at St Helens hospital back in his native Lancashire.
After arriving in Sydney in February 1911 he and his wife Edith travelled to Mackay where daughter Dorothy was born in March 1911. Evidently they didn't stay there for very long as they were mentioned living in Lilley Estate in Toowoomba in 1912. Here he must have made contact with the local Chemist Nat Green as he then manages Nat's shop in Warwick.
This chemist shop was situated in Palmerin St Warwick between the Town Hall and  the Criterion Hotel between Grafton and Fitzroy Streets.
Criterion Hotel about 1925. Chemist shop would have been to the left out of the photo
After managing the chemist shop for Nat Green of Toowoomba he bought the shop and started using his optician skills as well. So in 1913 the shop became   J. Armitstead, Chemist and Optometrist, Warwick. (1)

As Trove added more papers then the advertisements appeared.  Of course don't forget this one from The Warwick Daily News. 23 October 1920
Correct fitting eye-glasses or spectacles are the greatest comfort science has provided for suffering humanity. If you need them go to J. Armitstead,Chemist and Optometrist, Warwick.
Optician charts

or this one from The Warwick Daily News.31 December 1920
"Beauty is Only Skin Deep.
  This may or may not be correct. Nevertheless beauty is sought after to-day by ladies of culture, as much as ever. Physically hygiene and science have done much, in this direction. For instance no lady need be troubled with freckles.
Winter requisites including Kuta Cream
A little "Kuta" Cream smeared lightly over the affected parts for three or four nights is all that is necessary to render the skin smooth and clear. This delightful preparation is sold by J. Armitstead, Chemist, Warwick, in pots at 3/; postage 6d. extra.*"

In 1925 preparations were made to extend the shop and Mrs Allman, owner of the Criterion Hotel, paid for a new  2 storied building to be constructed next to the hotel. However to make way for the new building the back of the old shop had to move into the backyard of the hotel and the front section had to be shifted across Palmerin Street and up to  a bank site. These plans were noted in the Warwick Daily News in June 1925 (2)  However moving the front section proved to be harder than expected and for a while it was stuck in the middle of the main street of Warwick.
Front of the shop stuck in the middle of Palmerin  St Warwick June 1925
Once the new shop was ready  the Warwick Daily News had a very long article describing the shop fittings in detail and thanking all the contractors and it went on and on. You will get a interesting read if you go to  (3) I wouldn't do it justice if I tried to precis it.
As a keen photographer the shop became a centre for photographic supplies-again another post-stay tuned.
He was also involved in the Boy Scout movement as a district commissoner and was a church parish councillor and a commissioner of peace and a family man.
 He certainly was a man of many part, lots more for other days.

(1) BUSINESS CHANGE. (1913, August 30). Warwick Examiner and Times (Qld. : 1867 - 1919), p. 5. Retrieved July 4, 2015, from
(2) A Projected Removal. (1925, June 27). Warwick Daily News (Qld. : 1919 -1954), p. 5. Retrieved July 4, 2015, from
(3) A MODERN PHARMACY. (1925, December 22). Warwick Daily News (Qld. : 1919 -1954), p. 3. Retrieved July 4, 2015, from
Criterion Hotel Photo courtesy John Oxley Library Queensland