Le Quesne pharmacy

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Le Quesne pharmacy


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The familiar pharmacy on the corner of Halkett Place and Waterloo Street


Jersey's oldest pharmacy celebrated its centenary in 1914 and the occasion was marked by a this article by Diane Simon in the Jersey Evening Post


The interior of Le Quesne's pharmacy at 45 Halkett Place

Le Quesne's the Chemist has been dispensing medicine since 1914, and during that time has operated from a number of places in St Helier.

Between 1900 and 1914 the Waterloo Pharmacy at 27 Halkett Place was owned and and run by J T Baker, who had a wholesale and retail business at 2 and 4 Waterloo Street.

Those were the days when medicines, including tonics, were prepared in the pharmacy as required, instead of coming ready-made and packaged.

Philip Le Quesne

In 1914 Philip Le Quesne took over the rental of 45 Halkett Place from Mr Baker to operate a pharmacy there, and he bought the property five years later.

The shop had a curved front door on the corner of of Halkett Place and Waterloo Street, and there were large glass bottles of coloured liquid on top of the display shelves.

The building at 27 Halkett Place remained as a perfumery until 1931. Philip Le Quesne's nephew, Herbert Le Quesne, was running a pharmacy at 9 Conway Street, which had opened in 1947 and continued to be in business there until 1964. From the following year until 1972 there was also a pharmacy at 19 Broad Street.

Herbert Le Quesne

When Philip Le Quesne, who became a Senator, retired in 1951, his nephew Herbert (whose nickname was Skin) took over the business at 45 Halkett Place. He ran it until his retirement in 1972, when his son Graeme took over the business. Herbert remained available as a locum as and when required.

In 1974 Herbert Le Quesne became a Jurat, and was sworn in as Lieut-Bailiff in August 1982, but died two weeks later.

Graeme Le Quesne

Graeme Le Quesne modernised 45 Halkett Place and sent the old furniture and fittings to the Jersey Museum, where the shop interior was reconstructed as a display.

He bought 25 Don Street in 1983 and it was completely rebuilt. It is there that the pharmacy operates today, the 45 Halkett Place pharmacy having closed the same year.

Developing the business in another part of town, Mr Le Quesne took on the least of premises in Burlington House, St Saviour's Road in 1989. At that time there were three GP surgeries nearby, which kept the pharmacy team busy making up prescriptions for their patients and selling toiletries and over-the-counter medicines to other customers.

Herbert Le Quesne
Graeme Le Quesne

Things changed suddenly in 2002 when Graeme Le Quesne was killed, along with three others, when the plane he was piloting crashed in poor weather in Portugal.

Kate Le Seelleur-Jones

Pharmacist Kate Le Seelleur-Jones, who had been working at the Don Street outlet since 1992, took it over following his death, and she has been running the business since then.

When the lease at the Burlington House pharmacy ended in 2008 it was decided that as two of the nearby GP surgeries had moved to other sites, it would not be renewed.

Kate Le Seelleur-Jones' interest in the profession started as a teenager when she worked on Saturdays for Phipps the Chemist at Five Oaks.

The daughter of Clive and Margaret Le Seelleur, she was educated at FCJ and Beaulieu Convent and chose a pharmacy career because it combined her interest in science with the satisfaction she had in helping customers in a community pharmacy.

She followed in the footsteps of her great uncle, Thomas Le Seelleur, who ran a chemist in the late 1800s in Beresford Street.

Following a three-year degree course in pharmacy at Cardiff University, she carried out pre-registration training at Boots the Chemist in Chiswick, London. Returning to the island in 1990 she worked for two years at Phipps with pharmacist Gerald Dodsley, before taking up her post at Le Quesne's.

Within five years she had become a partner in the company. She has an interest in herbal and homeopathic medicine and heads a team of seven staff and Saturday assistants, including pharmacist Linda Mathieson, who studied at Strathclyde University in Glasgow and began working at the pharmacy in 1997.

Mrs Le Seelleur-Jones is married to Gwynn, who is also a pharmacist, and they have a ten-year-old daughter Rachel.

'I am so proud that Le Quesne's Pharmacy has reached its centenary year,' she said. 'As a local through and through, I adore our island, and it is a pleasure to serve residents and visitors alike. I am grateful to my loyal staff, who foster the community spirit within the town centre and make our small outlet a vibrant, trusted destination for healthcare for the community.'

Dolph Picot

Adolphus Picot was 14 when he joined the staff of Le Quesne the Chemist at the beginning of the Great War. During the 57 years he worked at 45 Halkett Place as head pharmacy assistant, Mr Picot [1] dispensed many thousands of prescriptions, lotions and tinctures.

When the Spanish flu epidemic struck in 1918 there was a great demand for his mixtures, cough medicines and oils.

This was also the case throughout the Occupation, when his knowledge became invaluable when drug supplies to the island stopped. Mr Picot would go into the countryside looking for herbs with which to make tinctures and potions, using brandy allowed by the Germans to extract the important juices from the plants.

Although the Germans often searched the pharmacy for a radio, the staff were allowed to continue making their preparations for the public.

So that Mr Picot would not be departed, his boss Philip Le Quesne sent a letter which was certified by the Medical Officer of Health, Dr Robert McKinstry, saying that Mr Picot was 'absolutely essential' for the maintenance of dispensing services.

Married to Hilda, nee Piton, with a daughter Grace and son Henry, he retired in 1972 and died in 1990, aged 89.

Family tree

Notes and references

  1. Like many islanders who were unfortunate to have been baptised with a name which became reviled throughout Europe, thanks to Adolph Hitler, Mr Picot chose to be known as 'Dolph'. He was born on 8 November 1900 and baptised Adolphus Frederick William Picot, the son of Adolphus Philip and Olivia Mabel, nee Bree. Adolphus and Olivia were married in St Helier in 1899. He was a carpenter, the son of master mariner Francis William (1841- ) the son of Francis and Elizabeth. Olivia was the daughter of shoemaker Helier. We have been unable to fit this line of Picots into any of our existing family trees
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