Isaac T. Lloyd Chemist and Pharmacist King’s Road Chelsea

It is not very often that a shop and service so familiar in my childhood and time of living in Chelsea 50 to 60 years ago is still in existence.

This is the case with Isaac T Lloyd, the chemists and pharmacy at what is now 255 King’s Road opposite Carlyle Square. And remarkably it seems to have been there in 1900 though just a few doors down at number 267 King’s Road which is now occupied by Designer’s Guild and extends to the corner with Old Church Street at 277.

I wonder if 255 are the same premises and sometime in the 123 years since then, the numbering in the King’s Road changed.

As will be seen from the advertisement at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries Isaac T Lloyd was a member of the Pharmaceutical Society and dispensing all manner of nostrums, medicines and remedies, including equipment for the growing hobby and profession of photography- plates, papers, chemicals, cameras etc.

You could buy his own branded ‘Lloyd’s Hydroquinone Developer’ for one shilling a bottle. Not sure it could do anything for malaria as that would have been Hydroquinine perhaps?

What he does seem famous for is the ‘Carlyle Bouquet’- named after the Chelsea celebrity author Thomas Carlyle who had died in Chelsea in 1881: ‘The very pleasant thing about the Carlyle Bouquet is that, though powerful, it is not heavy, for the odour is as refreshing as that brought by a summer breeze from a garden full of bloom.’

I have to say I have never found anything particularly ‘fragrant’ about Thomas Carlyle, but perhaps he did smell lovely all those years ago.

‘Lloyds’ the chemist for my family meant going there to collect prescriptions when I was down with Hong Kong flu and Whooping Cough. Lloyds the bank is where we would go for our overdrafts and they would be much more plentiful.

I would often go there in the 1970s and 1980s when my parents were getting on a bit and rather poorly.

Nowadays it supplies condoms and does head lice management among many other things, and the staff are multi-lingual.

So the next time you are in the King’s Road and passing I T Lloyd and want to pop in and ask for a bottle of Carlyle Bouquet, here’s what you need to say in Esperanto: ‘Mi volas unu botelon da Carlyle-bukedo, bonvolu.’

In 1896 Isaac T Lloyd was advertising ‘Old Dr. Parr’s Miraculous Cough Syrup’- which was excellent apparently for relieving winter catarrh.

In 1899 Isaac was promoting and dispensing ‘Lloyds Neuralgic Drops’ to relieve the agony of ‘Tic-douloureux, Face-ache etc.’ He said ‘It will cure you’, strengthen the nerves and invigorate the system.

He was also calling his business ‘The People’s Pharmacy and Post Office.’ He was very proud of always having an answer for ‘Why do you?’ in terms of coughing in the street, in the church, in bed and indeed anywhere at all and at anytime.

By 1904 he was promoting hot water bottles, chest protectors and enemas. In 1909 things were going so well he could afford to have a telephone- ‘Western 2732’.

Isaac T Lloyd and family

Isaac Thomas Lloyd and his family lived on the premises. The 1911 Census reveals the family came from the Aberdovey area of Merionethshire in Wales.

He and his wife, Ellen Catherine Lloyd, were both born there as was their 18 year old daughter Sarah Mary who was working as a pupil teacher- a kind of apprentice teacher who was being paid to teach students younger than herself while still at school. At 18 it is likely she would be enrolled at a teacher training college to gain a two year certificate qualification. There were six other children: 17 year old Huw Ifor, 15 year old Margaret Gwladys, 13 year old John Evans, 11 year old Thomas Meirion, 6 year old old Elizabeth Dilys, and 1 year old Rees Lewis, all born in Chelsea and at school apart from Rees.

Isaac Thomas’ father had been a farmer in Towyn, Machynlleth and worked 60 acres. His first chemists’ shop was set up at number 393 Commercial Road, Mile End Old Town, London in 1891.

In 1901 they were well-established at 267 King’s Road with Isaac described as a druggist and chemist.

By 1921 Sarah Mary Lloyd, the eldest daughter, was running the business at the age of 28 and registered with the GPO as the official post office clerk. Her sister Margaret was 26 and working as book-keeper and clerk at Bramston Rope manufacturers in Stratford East London, her brother John at 24 was studying to be a dentist at Guys Hospital, and younger brother Thomas Meirion at 21 was now at Oxford University studying law. 11 year old Rees Lewis Lloyd was at Sloane Grammar School in Hortensia Road.

By the end of September 1939 a John E Davis, who was 32 years old, was the pharmacist and manager at 267 King’s Road with his 34 year old wife Vera, doing clerical work for the Women’s Volunteer Service (WVS).

What these records show is that the Lloyd family were aspirational and used all of the educational opportunities in respect of local schools in Chelsea to inspire ambition in their children. By 1921 Sarah and Margaret were single independent women with their own careers and incomes. Two of the sons John and Thomas were embarking on careers in elite professions- dentistry and law, and the youngest child had already started at Chelsea’s leading Grammar school.

In 1939 Sarah Mary had returned home to Aberdovey in Wales, still working as a civil servant for the Post Office and looking after her widowed mother Ellen. Ellen’s husband Isaac had died in 1926. Margaret was there helping out too. In London she pursued her career as a secretary. Ellen lived in one of the grandest houses of Aberdovey village with open and wonderful views of the estuary of the River Dyfi. Ellen would pass away in early 1941.

The oldest son Huw Ifor Lloyd had served as an infantry second lieutenant in the Northamptonshire Regiment during the First World War and won a Militry Cross in 1916, was promoted to captain, stayed in service until 1921 and later as a reservist. He went to Cambridge University were he gained a distinction in the History Tripos and was elected president of the Cambridge University Union. Following his war service in France and Mesopotamia he held administrative posts in the Middle East, was an expert adviser on the Turko-Iraq boundary at the League of Nations in Geneva, became president of the High Court in Iraq and was awarded an O.B.E. During WW2 his knowledge of the politics and culture of the Middle East led to his working in the intelligence field.

Thomas Lloyd (known as Tom) gained a B.A. and M.A. from Oxford University, and moved to Bath and was described as ‘a popular figure at the National Liberal Club’ in London. After university he was a schoomaster before going into business and taking on the directorship of various companies.

John Lloyd qualifed as a dental surgeon and built up a successful practice in Earl’s Court where he lived with his three sisters when they were in London. Rees Lloyd became a successful barrister and author and served in the London Welsh Regiment during WW2.

Images at top of posting

  1. Advertisement in An Historical Handbook of Chelsea by Reginald Blunt. Page 190, published by Lamley & Co. 1900 Public Domain.
  2. The Green Pharmacy Cross (sometimes overlaid with Bowl of Hygieia), is widely used in Europe and India. By Simplesse & Wikipedian231. Public Domain.
  3. Graphic promoting the Carlyle Bouquet Public Domain.
  4. Old Medicine Shelf. Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash. Unsplash licence. See

Special thanks to Karen White and Chris Pain whose families lived in Chelsea during World War Two and Malachy John McCauley, also brought up in Chelsea, who have very kindly encouraged and assisted my research. Special thanks to Marja Giejgo for editorial assistance. Research and archive facilities from Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council library services, The Imperial War Museum and National Archives at Kew.


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