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Reynolds & Branson Limited

The beginnings of the company dates back before 1816, at which time Mr. William West F.R.S. took over the Pharmaceutical firm from Mr. Matterson, who himself had been employed by Allen and Hanburys. It was located at 13 Briggate, Leeds.

In 1839 Thomas Harvey joined the business of Mr. Williams who gave up the pharmacy after 25 years to pursue analytical chemistry. Mr. Williams was one of the founders of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. The firm was now called Thomas Harvey.

Mr. Harvey was born at Barnsley, in Yorkshire in 1812. From 1822 to 1825 Harvey studied at Ackworth and afterwards became a chemist apprentice for David Doncaster of Sheffield. Upon Doncasters death he trained at Thomas Southalls in Birmingham for eight years. Thomas Harvey is well remembered for his philanthropic mission to bring attention to the slavery being practiced in the West Indies under the guise of the "Apprentice system". At age 21 Thomas Harvey and a friend Joseph Sturge of Birmingham, traveled to the West India islands and returned with evidence of the inhumane conditions and treatment of blacks. In 1837 Sturge and Harvey published "The West Indies in 1837" which triggered Lord Broughham to enforce the negro emancipation and abolish the "Apprentice System" on August 1, 1838. In 1837 Harvey settled in Leeds as a chemist.

Richard Reynolds was born in 1829 and was the eldest son of an apothecary who died when the boy was only four years old. At the age of fourteen he left school and was apprenticed to James Deane a chemist in Chapman. In 1844, Richard Reynolds traveled from his home town of Banbury to became an apprentice to Thomas Harvey. In 1850 to 1851 he attended the school of Pharmacy in London where he took first prizes in chemistry, materia and botany in a contest held by the pharmaceutical society. He then went to Mr. Henry Deane at Chapman for two years, then returned to the Leeds business.

In 1854 Richard Reynolds joined Thomas Harvey as a partner, at which time the company was called Harvey & Reynolds. In 1861 the firm was joined by a Mr. Fowler for a short period of time.

As early as 1867 the firm was called Harvey, Reynolds & Co. and engaged in the manufacture and selling of photographic supplies and apparatus. An 1874 article in the British Journal cites a description of an improved head rest called the "Harrogate Rest" manufactured by the Harvey, Reynolds & Co.

On December 25, 1884 Thomas Harvey died at the age of 72 and Mr. Reynolds took on Mr. Fredrick Branson as a partner in the established company. An 1884 advertisement listed the partnership between Reynolds & Branson ( late Harvey, Reynolds & co.). The advertisement is for "Pure Essence of Beef", English beef in the form of a delicate jelly and "Extract of Beef" for making delicious beef tea.

In 1890 Richard Reynolds son, Richard Freshfield (Fred) Reynolds joined the company as a partner.

The firm of Reynolds & Branson was registered in July 1898 as a limited corporation with a capital of £34,000 in shares of £10 each by Messrs. R. Reynolds, F. W. Branson and R. F. Reynolds being the first. No remuneration was given to Mr. R. Reynolds, but £700 each per anum to the others. The business was established as chemists, opticians & etc., located at 14 Commercial Street adn 13 Briggate, Leeds.

On April 5th, 1901 Richard Reynolds died at his home at cliff Lodge, Hyde Park, Leeds at the age of 70.

On June 1st, 1907 Richard Freshfield Reynolds, who went by the name Fred, died at the age of forty-six at his residence, Hill Carr, Crossbeck Road, Ilkley, Leeds. He fell in the street and sustained a compound fracture of the right ankle, which, tough not at first considered serious, led to complications and the the immediate cause of death being heart failure.

The company continued well into the 1970's.


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Graces guide for Reynolds and Branson
1898, July; The Photographic dealer , p. 20.
1884, The British Friend, p. 6
1901 Proceedings of the American Pharmaceutical Association, p. 44
1885 The Sunday at Home, p426
1889 The bibliography biographical and topographical of Ackworth school p. 12
1901 British Journal of photography

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