J Preston Limited

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Photograph of the stained glass window in Prestons' chemist shop.

J Preston Limited was a company of laboratory equipment and chemicals suppliers based in Sheffield, England whose origins could be traced back to the early 1830s. The company went through many changes over the years.

J Preston chemists were first believed to be located on High Street (Sheffield) before later moving to Barker’s Pool. Prestons moved again to make way for the new Sheffield City Hall, moving to West Street around 1930. The company continued its expansion into the laboratory and chemical supply industry, supplying products to laboratories in many fields including the city’s vibrant steel industry. J Preston Limited also had its own glass shop with a team of glassblowers which produced specialist laboratory glassware to order.

During the early nineteen sixties the company expanded its West Street premises by opening a new showroom exhibiting laboratory equipment and furnishings. The modern showroom complemented the traditional chemist shop that stood on the corner of West Street and Mappin Street.

The nineteen eighties saw a steady decline in business as the company struggled against the decline of the local steel industry. With increased competition from national suppliers, combined with the massive closures in the manufacturing industry that decimated the local economy, Prestons found it tough going.

In 1986 the Preston family sold its interest in the company selling to a local holding organisation that owned a number a local companies. Prestons moved to Netherthorpe Road in early 1987 ending the company’s long history as a local retailer. The chemist shop fittings were given to the local museum and have been exhibited in Sheffield's Weston Park Museum showing visitors what an old traditional chemist shop may have looked like.

The Netherthorpe Road warehouse and offices saw the company trying to change to match the modern competitive age. The new premises were also used to house additional businesses such as Carlton Brown & Partners. This new addition manufactured "Autostic" and "Adhaesium", a range of specialised adhesives and supplied its products to an international customer base.

With the company now trading as Hallamshire Chemical Holdings Limited, the firm re-established itself as a medical supplier by purchasing Fiona Shaw Medical in 1995.

As the new millennium dawned, the company held its breath and entered a new phase. By 2001 and now under new ownership, the company continued to expand by entering into the highly competitive education market. However, owing to changes in legislation covering the supply of chemicals and medical supplies along with escalating costs of insurance, the company struggled against the tide.

In early 2004 the company went into liquidation.

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