The Christopher Family

Chemists of Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire


Chrisophers at Westview

The Christopher family at Westview, St Margaret’s Street, Bradford on Avon (Gerald, Miriam, Richard, Angela)

Richard Christopher took over the pharmacy shop that is now in Bradford on Avon Museum in 1908 and it closed when his daughter Angela retired in 1986.

Richard Thorney Christopher was born in 1871 in the small town of Heckington in Lincolnshire. In 1881 his widowed mother Abina was running a grocery and fancy goods shop in the High Street. Richard became apprenticed to a pharmacist in Heckington, then worked in Hanley, one of the five towns of Stoke-on-Trent, before studying pharmacy at the South London Pharmacy School in Camberwell. He qualified in 1900 and registered as chemist and druggist at Sleaford, in his home county.

Before he came to Bradford he had travelled to work in Singapore, but his health became poor and he returned to England via Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka). The trip left an indelible mark on him, leading to developing his Siva range of oriental-scented perfumes and his famous curry powders.

He came to Bradford on Avon in 1908 to take over the shop of William Norris, who had died in March of that year. He married Miriam Perry in 1912. She was from Shrewsbury, but was living in Frome Road in Bradford with her mother and grandparents. The Christophers had two children, Gerald (born 1912) and Angela Mary (born in 1916) and moved from the shop to Westview Cottage in St Margaret’s Street. He continued to travel, around Britain and on the Continent, and took a keen interest in the history of Bradford and was a member of the Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Society, looking after the Barton Farm Tithe Barn for the society, collected old coins and was a keen golfer and a Freemason.

Angela followed her father in the profession, becoming his apprentice and qualifying as a pharmacist in Bristol in 1939 and took the shop over when he died in 1962. She went to Miss Cockrom’s school, then joined her brother at the County Technical School (later called Fitzmaurice Grammar School). The Museum Society was formed to purchase the contents of the shop when she retired in May 1986. She died in 1998 aged 82.