Boots of Nottingham opens 'historic' digital archive

Lady Florence Boot presenting a gift to a wounded soldier Image copyright Boots
Image caption Lady Florence Boot presenting a gift to a wounded soldier at a Christmas party for wounded soldiers held by Jesse and Florence at the Stoll Picture House, London in 1917

High street chain Boots have released a new online archive containing 20,000 entries including pictures, adverts and magazines from the company's history.

The firm, founded by Jesse Boot in Nottingham in 1849, said its vast collection could help understand the history of the UK's retail industry.

Boots archivist Sophie Clapp said the company is also "inherently" linked to the people of Nottingham.

More will be added to the archive over the next four years.

Updates on this story and more from the East Midlands

Image copyright Boots
Image caption An advert for Boots where the first shop was located in Goose Gate, Nottingham
Image copyright Boots
Image caption Boots had their own football team in the mid-20th Century

Ms Clapp said: "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 and beyond.

"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..."

Image copyright Boots
Image caption The archive contains records of products made by the company
Image copyright Boots
Image caption Boots' old printing department at Island Street, Nottingham, around 1892
Image copyright Boots
Image caption Many of the products are no longer made, but form part of the brand's history

Jesse Boot started his small herbalist store about 165 years ago and by the mid-1930s there were over 1,000 Boots shops in the UK.

Mr Boot was not only a successful businessman, whose firm dominated the pharmacy industry, but also a philanthropist and was responsible for a number of welfare initiatives.

Image copyright Boots
Image caption Photograph of employees outside Boots D10 factory around 1940 which was described as the ‘Crystal Palace of Industry’

The company had its first full-time welfare worker in 1911 and the Boot family later developed one of the UK's first daylight factories.

They were also pioneers in introducing the industrial five-day working week.

Professor Peter Scott, business historian at Reading University, said the collection constituted "one of the most significant and multi-faceted British corporate archives".

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