Wokingham PROBUS Club
WOKINGHAM PROBUS Club members gathered at John Nike Centre, Bracknell, on Wednesday ,
September 5, to hear a fascinating talk on nineteenth century patent medicines by Graham Harrison.
Entitled Poisons for Medicines- Victorian Pharmacists and
Graham’s presentation described a grim array of “over the counter” medicines, many based on potent poisons and narcotics which were foisted upon the general public who had no recourse to free health care as we enjoy today.
Arsenic, opium, strychnine, cocaine and heroin all played their part in this “kill or cure” culture.
Some products were fortunately merely harmless, just a “con”, some were bizarre like slimming by ingesting tapeworms, and some in reduced potency survived into the 20th century like Dr Collis Browne’s mixture. Some also remain in folklore like the legendary Lydia’s Vegetable Compound sold by Lydia Pinkham, “Lily the Pink” in the popular song. Efficacious in every case!
Enlivened by examples of contemporary press advertisements and his almost sinister collection of old coloured medicine bottles, the audience was both enthralled and horrified but came away with a definite appreciation of our modern health service and pharmaceutical control legislation.
Our photograph shows Graham, right, with PROBUS Chairman John Briault,
PROBUS is a meeting place for retired or semi-retired professional and business people of either sex who assemble monthly in an informal and friendly atmosphere for social chat, a pleasant lunch and a talk on a general interest topic.
New members will be most welcome. Fees are modest, lunches good value and the company friendly with a wide range of experiences and interests from their varied working lives.
Meetings are on the first Wednesday of the month at 12.30 for 1pm lunch, with a talk usually following. The meeting place is John Nike Leisuresport, John Nike Way, Bracknell RG12 8TN.
The next presentation in our programme, on October 3, is a presentation on the writer Charles Dickens and his lesser known interest of performing conjuring tricks – with demonstrations!
Prospective members will be most welcome to come and meet us, by prior arrangement please, and try us out without obligation. Please contact our Secretary, Hugh Dempster, on 01189 730332 or email firstname.lastname@example.org