Former Chemist’s Shop, Nos. 59-59a High Street, Lowestoft

Author(s): K Morrison

Nos. 59-59a High Street, Lowestoft, is a three-storeyed, two-bay brick house with a former chemist’s shop and dispensary on the ground floor (No. 59) and separately accessed accommodation above (No. 59a). It was erected for Robert Morris, chemist and druggist, in 1851. This building is of interest primarily for its Italianate shopfront, which is an original and largely unaltered feature. The fashionable design, with its arched plate-glass windows, closely resembles shopfronts illustrated by John Weale in Examples of Modern Shop Fronts, which was published in 1851. Specially designed mid-Victorian chemists’ shopfronts seldom survive intact, and this is one of the earliest datable examples to have an integral carboy shelf. An intriguing wooden mechanism, installed beneath the stall board and operated from within the cellar, raised and lowered the shop shutters. Such mechanisms rarely survive. Typical chemists’ fixtures and fittings – including mirror-backed shelving, the ‘drug run’ (drawers) and a painted cupboard door – survive inside the front shop, together with the glazed window enclosure. The general configuration of the shop interior, including the flush panelling of the dispensary, seems to date from the 1950s. Structural alterations have taken place elsewhere in the building: notably the replacement of the roof of the rear wing and the removal of an east-facing canted bay in 1946-47, as a result of bomb damage sustained during the Second World War. Despite this, the residential part of the property retains much of its early Victorian character with original staircases, archways and doorways.

Report Number:
Research Report
Modern Standing Building Architectural Investigation Heritage Action Zone


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