Online archive to chart history of Boots through 20,000 items

Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, boots, Jesse Boots, medicine,
The shop on Goose Gate, Hockley, which started the Boots empire in the 1880s. Today the site is a branch of Oxfam.

Thousands of entries from a private archive charting the rise of the Boots empire are being made available online for the first time.

The collection of artefacts preserves the story of how Jesse Boot founded the company in Nottingham in the 1880s.

It grew from a shop on Goose Gate, Hockley, to become a household name in high street shopping.

Staff have collected and collated around tens of thousands of items including photographs, posters, products and adverts over the years – but the collection usually kept behind closed doors and only made available on request or for special exhibitions.

One of the Boots online archives exhibits – Boots football team from the middle of the 20th century. (Photo: Boots)

Archivists for the firm are now days from launching an online public archive of 20,000 of the items – which still only represents around a fifth of the entire collection.

The rest will be added to the internet museum over the next four years.

Boots’ archive includes items from other businesses within the Walgreens Boots Alliance group, with more from the global enterprise to be added over the next few years.

Boots merged with US drug store chain Walgreens in 2012.

Archived material on display at Lenton House. (Photo: Kyle Hearse)

Sophie Clapp, Boots Archivist, said: “We want to find new ways to reach students, teachers, and communities – particularly in Nottingham, and open up this fantastic resource to allow a new era in the study of Boots heritage.

“It’s such a vast and varied collection and contains a wealth of material to deepen our understanding of retail, industrial and pharmaceutical development in the UK.

“The website will also be a place where people can explore the history of their high street or perhaps see images of their grandparents and great-grandparents, whose contributions played an important role in building the Boots.”

Photograph of Lenton House from 1953. Photo credit Boots online archive.

Some of the key artefacts are kept on display at Lenton House, on University Park, Lenton, the former family home of the Boots family and now its corporate address.

This new online project will go live in the next few days and has been funded by Wellcome, a global charity which supports medical and pharmaceutical research.


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