Boots by Sophie Clapp



Island Street

Aerial view of Island Street site; includes: E1 Chemical Building, E6 Chemical Building, E16, E17, S1 Warehouses, "Clifton Arms Block", Irongate Wharf, Pennyfoot Street, Nottingham Canal, Brewery Cut of Canal, London Road, Canal Street, c1947. [CAIS 975]
Aerial view of Island Street site; includes: E1 Chemical Building, E6 Chemical Building, E16, E17, S1 Warehouses, "Clifton Arms Block", Irongate Wharf, Pennyfoot Street, Nottingham Canal, Brewery Cut of Canal, London Road, Canal Street, c1947. [CAIS 975]

From c1886 Jesse Boot had chosen Island Street as the best site for his first works and general offices. Individual buildings were bought as they came onto the market. He started by leasing 3 rooms in Elliotts Lace Factory in 1889, and by 1892 the whole mill had been taken over.

Between 1901 and 1914 Jesse Boot acquired or leased almost all the properties located between the canal and the Midland Railway - a mixture of warehouses, factories, wharves, rows of cottages and public houses.

By 1908 the view of Island Street from the London Road crossing of the Nottingham canal would be: - 'Boots Steam Printing Dept', next to the largest building which housed general offices, stock and packing rooms, mineral water manufacture, pharmaceutical labs and research, malt house, bottle washing etc. Then beyond an open yard in a smaller building was the shop fitting department.

March 1908 - Freehold acquired £3,500c old gas works site which was immediately demolished. In 1912, a large site was acquired between Island Street and Poplar Street where formerly stood gas works, lead works, malting works, cement works and slum cottages. On this site Jesse erected up to date laboratories, drug warehouses and perfumery factories.

Beeston Site

In 1927 the Beeston site was acquired by John Boot to expand manufacturing capabilities.

See individual buildings for more information.

D10 façade, October 1994.[CAIS 3408]
D10 façade, October 1994.[CAIS 3408]

(D1) Soap Factory: Beeston, Nottingham.  The Soap Factory started production in June 1929 having moved from the London Road factory on the Island Street site (probably S1).

(D10) Wets Factory: Beeston, Nottingham.  Architect/Engineer: Sir Owen Williams.
The factory was 4 years in planning, 2 years in building; planning committee first met in January 1927.
The building was officially opened in July 1933 by Joyce Boot, wife of Lord Trent.
At the opening, Lady Trent passed her hand through an invisible ray, which caused a bottle of eau-de-cologne to break against the main staircase in the entrance hall.
Building cost £300,000. Over 70 feet in height, 695,000 square feet of floor space, 5 acres of glazing, and 150,000 glass discs.
1200 people employed when the factory was opened, 750 women and 450 men.
During the War the exterior of the building was painted with camouflage paint.
The Perfumery Laboratories closed mid 1967; a £20m renovation was completed in 1994.  It is the largest Grade 1 listed industrial building in Britain.

Front entrance of D6 building, c.1960 [CAIS 2034]
Front entrance of D6 building, c.1960 [CAIS 2034]

Cover of booklet about D95 [which opened for production in Nov 1975]: "Tablet Production at Boots". [CAIS 2203]
Cover of booklet about D95 [which opened for production in Nov 1975]: "Tablet Production at Boots". [CAIS 2203]

(D6) Drys Factory: Beeston, Nottingham.  Architect/Engineer: Sir Owen Williams; Preliminary work started 1934.  First manufacturing section became operative in June 1936.
Pharmaceutical planning/control was introduced in mid 1966, with supply division/control being introduced the following year.
The Retail Distribution Centre (RDC) opened on North West side c1969 to supply stocks to local retail branches.  Currently empty.

(D95) Tablet Factory: Beeston, Nottingham.  Construction work commenced 1973.  Tablet packing started 31st November 1975.  Biggest tablet factory in Europe.  Currently owned by Reckitt Benckiser.

Partly used as an Own Goods warehouse from 1963; currently a bottle blow moulding facility.

Other Buildings

(D42, D43, D45 & D46) Chemical Buildings: Beeston, Nottingham.  Rebuilt and modernised 1962 in conjunction with Dutch firm Ketjen. 

(D48) Imports and Salvage Building: Beeston, Nottingham.  The building also housed the Returns Department and was a site used for the recycling of town trays, pallets and roller containers.
Docks extended to house 'BIRD' (Boots Internal Recorded Delivery System) in 1981.

Incorporated D48 bottle salvage (bottle washing), which prior to 1955 had operated from early World War II.  From 1964e D48 was Salvage Building - Pharmaceutical.

(D19) Engineering Offices: Beeston, Nottingham.  Building first staffed late 1979.  Won RIBA Architectural Award 1982.  Currently product testing laboratories.

Research laboratories

(N7) Research Laboratory, Island Street, Nottingham.  Freehold purchased 1902.
 In September 1912, Jesse Boot was reporting on the building of an “up to date laboratories, drug warehouses, perfumery factory with electrical power station (see N9), 3rd floor kitchen and dining hall, 4th floor gymnasium and open roof garden".  Building opened in 1914.
In 1923 lozenge department occupied majority portion and the Pill dept was also based here.
The building was slightly damaged by enemy action 9th May 1941.

From c1945 N7 housed a canteen, sundries warehouse, and a chemical bulk stock department, with a returns department being added shortly afterwards.
The building contained the Time office from c1955; Chemicals moved out c1963 and the building was demolished c1990.

(E2) Fine Chemical Manufacturing: Island Street, Nottingham.   Freehold purchased March 1908 and original building demolished.
From late 1940's this code incorporated E3, E4, E5, E7, E12 and spirit store with E12 being transferred on 1 April 1952.
From 1953 used for sterile manufacture.
Part of building demolished 1956-1957 to make room for new hexoestrol building (E31).
More demolished 1969 but E2 and E3 were still working March 1978, although insulin and citrate stopped production mid 1967.
From c1974 became warehouse for E60 plant and various production services with no actual production taking place.

(C5) Antibiotics Factory, Daleside Road, Nottingham.  Built 1943.  Now demolished.

(C13) Research building - bacteriological and standards department: Daleside Road, Nottingham. 

(C22) Research building - antibiotics and fermentation: Daleside Road, Nottingham. 

(W68/W69) Pharmacological and bacteriological research:  Oakfields Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham.  Freehold purchased 1920 for £4,152.   Housed pharmacological and bacteriological research until R3 built 1956.  Sold 3 November 1964.

(E3/R3)   Biological and medical sciences research building: Pennyfoot Street, Sneinton, Nottingham.  Used to house standards, medical research, medical and scientific libraries and biology division.
Adjacent to Church of England church of St Phillips; the freehold was purchased 1st July, 1955 for £30,000.   From 1955-1958 this site and eventual building had code E3.  R3 building complete in 1959.
Refurbished in line with F5 construction 1985-1986 and formed part of the sale to BASF Pharmaceutical 1st April 1995.  

(R4) Chemical Sciences Building: Pennyfoot Street, Nottingham.  Freehold included in R3 purchase.  Fitted out autumn 1963; Completed 1965 at a cost of £533,000; partially refurbished 1985-1986 at time of R5 construction.  Included in sale to BASF Pharmaceutical 1st April 1995.

(R5) Synthetic chemistry research building: Pennyfoot Street, Nottingham.  Opened 5th November 1986 at a cost of £24,000,000 including partial refurbishment of R3.   Included in sale to BASF Pharmaceuticals branch of BASF on 1st April, 1995.

(E6) Chemical Building: Island Street near Poplar Gate Street, Nottingham.  Freehold purchased 1908.  Original building demolished 1946e having been substantially damaged by enemy action 9 May 1941.
E15 included from 1952.
Before and immediately after World War 2 housed chemical offices, laboratories, canteen, maintenance and citrates manufacture.
 From c1964 only plant laboratories, industrial health unit and citrates remained.
Citrates ceased manufacture mid 1967.
Building gradually run down late 1966 and closed mid 1967, demolished soon after.

(E1) Chemical Building: Island Street, Nottingham.  Building complete October 1913; In 1915 Jessie Boot responded to war requirements by commencing chemical manufacture in E1. 
In 1938 space released by transfer of Bismuth, Chloroform and Aspirin to Beeston.  Was filled by facilities for production of insulin and beef extract. 
Substantially damaged by direct bomb hit May 9th 1941.
Incorporated in this building were standards laboratories, research microbiology etc.
From 1953 research library in E1; From 1964 Chemical production development and engineering; demolished January 1967.

Stores and warehouses

(W38) Sundries Warehouse: Bluebell Hill and Pym Street, off St Anns Well Road, Nottingham.  Leased Mar 1883 for £22.12.6d p.a.  Sundries moved out c1950.  Leasehold sold 1959.

(N14) Cold store/Ice plant: North side of Island Street and Pinder Street, Nottingham.  Freehold purchased 1908 site overlooking canal on Poplar Street, the building was originally a malt house which was demolished 1918e.  Cold store used to store perishables such as pancreas for insulin production.
Building demolished 1969-1970.

(N3) Warehouse: Island Street North, Nottingham.  Freehold purchased August 1915.  Housed chemical bulk stock until 1945e when became sundries warehouse.   Fancy and travel goods from 1953e - 1967.   Thereafter used as receiving warehouse and returns and recovery.

(W67) Warehouse: 80/86 Waterway Street, Queens Bridge Road, Nottingham.  Freehold purchased 1920/21 £10,600.   Toilet and silver warehouse until 1937c - transfer to Island Street.   Used as an assembly warehouse - during early part of World War II used for gas mask assembly.  Various parts sold between 1964 and 1971.

(W24/W49) Shop stationery warehouse:  Kayes Walk, Nottingham (behind St Marys Church, Lacemarket).  From World War II until released from our leasehold tenancy 20 April 1953 at which time this warehouse became part of printing building W49.

(W33) Warehouse: Alfred Street South (backing onto Handel Street), Nottingham.  Purchased freehold Mar 1942 for £16,000.   Toilet buying warehouse until c1945, then Fancy and Silver buying warehouse until sold freehold 12 Jan 1973.

(R33) Research Warehouse: Poplar Street and Thoresby Street, Nottingham.  Purchased in 1958 for £30,000 and was merged with R4 in 1965.  Part used for some fancy and stationary and art storage, until 1967 when space taken over by research receiving and despatch.  Sole to BASF 1st April 1996.

Exterior of D80, 2003. [CAIS 4345]
Exterior of D80, 2003. [CAIS 4345]

(D80) Computerised warehouse – proprietary toiletries: Beeston, Nottingham.  Warehouse opened c1963; computer control introduced early 1966 and warehouse fully operational by mid 1967. Merged with D82 building during summer of 1988 by provision of a 'link bridge'.

(D82) General pharmaceutical and bulk assembly warehouse: Beeston, Nottingham.  Designed by Boots architects and built by Laings at a projected cost of £1.8 million, built 1969.  Burnt down during a fire in 1997 and was subsequently rebuilt.

(W80) London Road Warehouse:  London Road adjacent to Island Street, Nottingham.  25 year lease acquired 1980; Opened for business 12 Jan 1981.   Initially used for proprietaries toiletries, specials and toys and games.   Also some stationery, book, fashion, audio and photo overflows of stock.

(D105) Travel Outer Warehouse: Beeston, Nottingham.  Main contractors were Bovis Ltd; building opened July 1983 by Norman Tebbitt.  It had a total storage capacity of 30,000 pallets.

Power Houses

Interior image depicting the Island Street Power House (N9), in 1917. [CAIS 4072]
Interior image depicting the Island Street Power House (N9), in 1917. [CAIS 4072]

Power House W55, at Irongate Wharf, London Road, Nottingham, c.1960. [CAIS 2360]
Power House W55, at Irongate Wharf, London Road, Nottingham, c.1960. [CAIS 2360]

(N9) Combined Heat and Power Plant: Island Street North and Pinder Street, Nottingham.  Freehold purchased 1908. Building developed as part of E1 construction in 1912.  "Electricity power station from which whole of requirements of various Boots works in neighbourhood will be supplied".  Demolished after 1946.

(D4) Power House: Beeston, Nottingham.  Built in 1928 to provide steam and electricity for soap factory (D1) production.

(W54) Power House:  Irongate Wharf, London Road, Nottingham.   Gowthorpe's building - opposite Island Street gates.   Leasehold taken 26 Oct 1946.   Surrendered against new lease for 96 years from 29 Sep 1949 when building closed.

(W55) Power House: Irongate Wharf, London Road, Nottingham.  New power house completed 1952.   Upgraded to a power station in 1965.  Leasehold sold to Nottingham Corporation 1970.

(D200) Energy Centre: Beeston, Nottingham.  Opened 1997 - provides power to the offices, factories and warehouses on the site.

Offices and departments

London Road

(W32) Offices: St John’s School, London Road, Nottingham.  Freehold purchased 31 Mar 1936, at which time building was already well over 50 years old.  In 1943 expense cashiers and sundries buying departments were housed here.  By 1948 the building was occupied by personnel dept and industrial health unit.  Sold to Nottingham Corporation 5 Dec 1967 for £20,000.

Station Street

W31 Head Office - corner of Station and Trent Street, c.1920. [CAIS 194]
W31 Head Office - corner of Station and Trent Street, c.1920. [CAIS 194]

(W31) Head Office: 37 Station Street, Nottingham.  Having leased a few rooms in the Hine and Mundella's Hosiery Factory in 1898 Company Head Quarters moved from Island Street to the above building c July 1899.
Leased from 31 Mar 1899 and purchased freehold in 1912 for £22,000.
Extended Sep 1912 by acquiring Cooper Bros. building on Trent Street.
Purchased Hutchinsons Flour Mill (adjoining at Markham Street end) in 31 Mar 1938. 
These buildings housed the director’s,  accountants, registrars, insurance, standards, wages, postal, expense control, audit and internal audit, statistics, merchandise control, wholesale cashiers, purchase records, retail staff and salaries, office organisation, publicity and retail prices departments.
EMIDEC computer departments introduced from c1957.
Largely transferred to D90 Beeston in early 1968; sold 31 Oct 1971, along with W25/W26 for £120,000.

(W26) Parkinson Street Offices: Parkinson Street, Nottingham.  In 1912 the building was developed for office use.
By 1954 this code also incorporated architects, sales promotion, gammetor (copying), medical department, pensions and standards.
Temporary gates were erected at Station Street and Trent Street ends of Parkinson Street in Mar 1953; permanent gates approx 1 year later.
By 1962 this area was being used only by duplicating services, statistical department, typewriter mechanics, standards and cash register, remainder used as garages.
Sold along with W25 and W31 31 Oct 1971 for £120,000.

(E151) East Block Offices: Station Street, Nottingham.  Construction commenced 1958/59 financial year; opened in 1961.
The office block aimed to bring under one roof most of the outlying offices around Nottingham and, in particular, to centralise the fundamental retail accounts functions such as sales and purchase records, invoice and stock records, wholesale and expense cashiers, wages etc. and recruitment side of personnel.  Also housed an extensive industrial health unit.
Completely refurbished 1980; Vacated in early 1999; Sold in 2000.

Exterior of D94 building depicting the front elevation and visitor’s car park, c.1990. [CAIS 3445]
Exterior of D94 building depicting the front elevation and visitor’s car park, c.1990. [CAIS 3445]

D94 Group headquarters: Beeston, Nottingham.  Former head office of Boots prior to the construction of D90.  Currently Customer Care and Properties Departments.

(D90 West): Boots Head Office: Beeston, Nottingham.  Work started on building April 1965.  Built on reclaimed tip land.
The building was first occupied Jan/Feb 1968, with the transfer from W31 and outlying Nottingham offices of all but the Retail Accounts offices.
Robin Hood statue installed 1976/
D90 West is a Grade II Listed building.
Building extended to create D90 East, between 1998 and 1999.


John Boot had a herbalists shop at 6 Goose Gate from 1849 and by 1876 Mary and Jesse were trading as M and J Boot from 38 Goose Gate.  Jesse Boot opened a second shop on Alfreton Road in 1873, but the shop was closed the following year.

Exterior of Store 1, 16 - 20 Goose Gate, Nottingham. With 'Boot & Co Ltd Drug Stores' fascia and a window display made up of one product only – Seltzogenes, c1885. [CAIS 524]
Exterior of Store 1, 16 - 20 Goose Gate, Nottingham. With 'Boot & Co Ltd Drug Stores' fascia and a window display made up of one product only – Seltzogenes, c1885. [CAIS 524]

Exterior of Store 6, Pelham Street and High Street, Nottingham, c.1950. [CAIS 1126]
Exterior of Store 6, Pelham Street and High Street, Nottingham, c.1950. [CAIS 1126]

General view of Store 6, Nottingham, Pelham Street and High Street chemists and perfumery department, 1896. [CAIS 1147]
General view of Store 6, Nottingham, Pelham Street and High Street chemists and perfumery department, 1896. [CAIS 1147]

Store 1: Goose Gate, Nottingham.  Architect: Richard Sutton. Opened at 16 Goose Gate in 1881; store extended to 16-20 Goose Gate by 1884; Address by 1914, 22 Goose Gate.  Closed 22 July 1967.

Store 2: Arkwright Street, Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Opened in 1888 at no 244.  The address changed in 1952 to 282-284 Arkwright Street. Store closed c1979 and became the Boots Social Club.

Store 3: Alfreton Road, Nottingham
Opened pre 1896 at no 159. Changed location to 177-179 and closed in 1956.

Store 3a Derby Road, Canning Circus, Nottingham
Opened 1910 and closed in 1964.

Store 6: Pelham Street, Nottingham.  Architect: Albert Bromley. The store (Jesse’s first flagship branch) opened at 2-10 Pelham Street in Oct 1892. 
The address periodically changed throughout years to 1972 between Pelham Street & High Street and High Street & Pelham Street.
On 8 May 1964, the store was extended with the purchase of Beecrofts premises located at 16-18 Pelham Street and in May 1966 the business was extended into Trippetts former premises on Pelham Street. 
Departments in the store included Photographic, Art, Travel goods & Farms & Gardens.
It transferred to 11-19 Lower Parliament Street, Victoria Centre in 1972.

Store 10: Wheeler Gate, Nottingham. The store at 12 Wheeler Gate opened on 23 May 1917. It had extended to 10-12 Wheeler Gate by 1929 and was open day and night.  It transferred to 2 Wheeler Gate on 31 August 1962 and was one of the first stores to have air conditioning. Closed in 1976.

Store 11: YMCA Buildings, corner of Shakespeare Street, Nottingham. The store opened 1897 at YMCA Buildings.  Extended to 1 Mansfield Road (corner of Shakespeare Street) by 1898.  Shakespeare Street dropped from address 12 May 1967; closed mid 1970s,

Store 13: 291 St Anns Well Rd, Nottingham. The store opened in 1898. An entry in the Nottingham Trade Directory, 1898-1899 refers to Boot & Co Ltd, Chemist and Writing Ink Manufacturers, J Hardstaff manager.  It transferred to 269 St Anns Well Road c. 1902 and closed 25 May 1957.


Boots Athletic Club pavilion at Lady Bay, 1930’s. [CAIS 8295]
Boots Athletic Club pavilion at Lady Bay, 1930’s. [CAIS 8295]

Refurbished bar and games area at Social Club, Trent Bridge, 1988. [CAIS 3233]

W200 Lady Bay Sports Grounds/Athletic Club: Canal Side, Lady Bay, West Bridgford, Nottingham.   Ground acquired in 1900 to provide a ports ground for the Boots Athletics Club; Freehold purchased 1920 for £5,700 including some cottages.   Pavilion constructed 1922 and more land bought 1926 for £5,800.
Pavilion extended 1953.   Some land and cottages sold to Trent River Board for £650 7 Aug 1957.

W203: Boots Institute\Boots Social Club: 282/284 Arkwright Street, Trent Bridge, Nottingham. The institute was established in 1919 in rooms over Redmayne & Todds shop at corner of Carrington Street and Canal Street, Nottingham.  It later moved to premises over the Boots retail branch at Arkwright Street as membership expanded in 1921.  A  Bar was installed 1969.
It became known as the Boots Social Club from c1970 and took over the entire premises when the shop closed c1979.  Associations with Boots ceased in 2010.  Known as The Embankment Club.

(D31) Amenities/Canteen Building: Beeston, Nottingham. Architect Sir Henry Tanner. Opened in autumn 1938 when war-time building restrictions already applied.  Designed to do service as military hospital if so required.  In addition to the canteen, which occupied most of the ground floor, D31 housed Cost Department, General Services Department and the Boots College, which closed in 1969.
From 1950e a sizeable part of the ground floor was walled off to house a data processing centre.
In 1990 Boos museum opened on the mezzanine floor at the North end of the building.
D31 building closed in 2006.

Lenton House: University of Nottingham.  Purchased as a family home by John Boot in 1919, he later sold the house to the company in 1946.
In 1937, the Company used some of the land as an experimental horticultural research project.  During the War this area was expanded to promote the Government’s Grow More Food Campaign and by 1944 practically all the estate was being used for experimental purposes.  Post-war Lenton House was transformed into an agricultural and horticultural research station with laboratories and glass houses being built on site.
From April 1946, part of Lenton House was designated as a hotel for company visitors, which is its current function today.