Thursday, 17 September 2015

Wellcome, Et Bienvenue!

On Tuesday I had a WWDP committee up in London. I stayed with Steph and Mark the night before, and that was lovely. Then Liz asked if I could meet up with her, for coffee, after my meeting and before getting my train home. A brilliant idea! She suggested the Coffee Shop at the Wellcome Collection, near Euston Square Tube, which is just round the corner from UCL where she works, and only 2 stops from Baker Street where I had been all day. It was great!


The Coffee Shop is bright and cheerful, with good food – and an amazing Gift & Bookshop adjoining it. The sort of gift shop that has quirky gifts that you would just love to buy for friends and family if you only had the money! Liz and I had time to chat about her recent French camping/cycling holiday which she and Jon enjoyed enormously. They only got back Sunday night, so she was still full of excitement about it.

I didn’t know much about Henry Wellcome, but I am planning to go back sometime and explore this amazing [free] venue, where his collection is housed. There is so much to see and explore.


Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936), the founder of the Wellcome Trust, was one of the most fascinating men of his time. A businessman, collector and philanthropist, he was born in the American Wild West but ended his days as a knight of the British Realm.

Wellcome co-founded a multinational pharmaceutical company that mastered modern techniques of advertising such as promotion, image and branding. The first product he advertised was ' invisible ink' (just lemon juice, in fact). In 1880, he joined his college friend Silas Burroughs in setting up a pharmaceutical company, Burroughs Wellcome & Co.They were one of the first to introduce medicine in tablet form under the 1884 trademark ' Tabloid' previously medicines had been sold as powders or liquids.  The wealth that Wellcome's company brought him was invested in amassing an astonishing collection of historical objects, which at the time of his death was larger than that of many of Europe's most famous museums.

He also funded pioneering medical research. In his lifetime, scientists funded by Wellcome made great breakthroughs into understanding how our bodies work. After his death, Wellcome's will provided for the creation of the Wellcome Trust.

Here’s just a few of the vintage adverts in the collection


Don’t you just love how this lady gets thinner just through taking this product? Figuroids claimed to 'safely remove all superfluous fat from every part of the body, and quite restore the figure' as well as actually benefit the digestion. They were sold in the form of effervescing tablets. The Figuroid Company Ltd. was based at Atlantic House, 46a Holborn Viaduct, London.

It is interesting to note that people's concern about their figures isn't a relatively recent thing. Parker’s tonic was supposed to cure 'dyspepsia, neuralgia, sour stomach, wakefulness, rising of the food, yellow skin... blood foul with humours... frequent pains in your head, back and limbs... stomach, kidneys or liver [disease]... coughs, consumption, asthma, colds, bronchitis... indigestion, diarrhoea, dysentery, rheumatism, chills, malaria, colic, and cramps' by rejuvenating the blood, a common notion at the time. Tired or impure blood was commonly seen as being the cause of many a malady. Are you weary in brain and body? Avoid intoxicants, rely on Parker’s Tonic!

parkers tonic


And the bienvenue in the title? Despite the limitations of luggage, when carrying a tent, sleeping bags and everything else on a bicycle round France, Liz managed to squeeze a magazine into her bag to bring me. She knows I adore Marie Claire Idées. My slow translation speed means this represents at least 2 months of craft-reading pleasure.

Tuesday was a very long. and busy day – but it was wonderful to see both the girls [and Mark] and have a useful and positive committee meeting. Bob collected me from the station at 7pm – he’d spent his day off on a long motorbike ride to Devon, but still managed to get a roast dinner ready for my return. J'étais très fatiguée!


  1. La pauvre toi, et la tres benie en meme temps- can't do your impressive accents from here!

  2. Je pense que the Wellcome Collection est un peu saucy non?

    1. This week sees the end of their "Institute of Sexology" exhibition [which Liz and I declined to visit] We were intrigued by the "Knit Your Own Kama Sutra" book in the gift shop. Not a volume I shall be adding to my library of craft books!!

  3. J'aime Marie Claire idees aussi et j'ai donne quelques a mon ami semaine dernier parce que j'ai encore trop de quand nous avons habitons en France! The Wellcome Foundation sounds interesting must add that to my list.

    1. How kind of you to pass your MCI on to a friend!


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