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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

26th October 2013

Top Picture: Lloyds original shop in Lake Road

Bottom Picture: Lloyds pregnancy testing laboratory 1960.



Something for the Weekend ,Sir?


One of the places we lads always knew about in Portsmouth was the Lloyds Family Planning Clinic. But very few of us were brave enough to go into the shops!

The history of contraception and pregnancy testing in Portsmouth is and odd thing to look at but for many historians it was an area that was ‘not quite nice’ and so overlooked. However the company Lloyds of Portsmouth were one of the front runners in the development of the service for more than 100 years. 

The business was established in the 1890s by Walter Henry Lloyd - a Master Herbalist who qualified in America back in the days when the "medicine men" toured the Wild West in covered wagons selling various potions, pills and cure-alls. As a crowd puller he would extract teeth for free to the accompaniment of drum rolls from his assistant and then sell "Lloyd's Pink Pills" at a dollar a box which were supposedly good for a remarkable number of complaints.


On returning to Portsmouth Walter opened a shop at 23 Lake Road as a Herbal Cash Drug Store very much on the American model. It offered advice free on all diseases and all the medicines that were sold were purely herbal. There was also a Dental Surgery attached to the shop and the business advertised itself as a Temple of Health. Walter married and had three sons. 


At the turn of the century the perfection of the vulcanisation process for rubber goods made possible the manufacture of reliable condoms, which, together with Dutch Caps and pessaries, formed the basis of contraception at that time. The work of Marie Stopes did much to overcome the considerable public ignorance and prejudice about contraception with the publication of her book "Married Love" in 1918. To Walter Lloyd the provision of rubber goods was a natural avenue for his business to take and he was in correspondence with Marie and her Family Planning Association about sources of supply. He was one of the first to market contraceptive goods freely over the counter at a time when it was very difficult to obtain such things. Portsmouth serviced the Royal Naval Fleet at that time with all the consequences to be expected and so the sales of sexual products and remedies were good. 

By the 1930's Walter had established further Lloyds branches in other towns such as Bristol and Manchester each run by one of his sons. He moved to Manchester and died there in 1936 by which time his youngest son Ralph Edward Victor Lloyd who was born in 1897 ran the original Portsmouth shop. He had five children and they lived above the shop. Then came the War and Portsmouth as the home of the Royal Navy was particularly targeted by German bombs. The Lake Road shop was flattened by a direct hit in 1941 and Ralph, having seen his livelihood reduced to a pile of rubble, died the same year aged only 45. 

The business limped along for the duration of the War in rented premises run by Ralph's wife Hilda. It was taken over by her eldest son Bertie in 1947. He was 20 years old and a man of enterprise. He established a repair of dentures service by post as a profitable sideline. By this time Lloyds Hygienic and Surgical Stores were selling mostly contraceptive and other sexual products with the addition of a few of Walter's original herbal remedies including Vital Tonic tablets. ("They impart youthful vigour and power"). Bertie was in the right place at the right time when he had the revolutionary idea of selling contraceptives by mail order. In 1948 such things were only obtainable from barbers shops ("Something for the weekend Sir?") and there were still many taboos about sexual products being available on open sale.
The problem was that it was almost impossible to advertise for no magazine or newspaper would accept adverts for contraceptives for fear of offending their readers. Bertie solved this problem by offering "Free Family Planning Advice" in the form of a handy booklet written by himself which contained a price list at the back. Even so only two magazines would accept his advert. The response was huge. He offered a confidential and discreet service by return of post in plain brown paper packaging and was the first to do so on any scale. In the 1950's the business entered its most prosperous phase becoming Lloyd's Surgical Department Limited in 1957. 

By the time of the "Permissive Sixties" Bertie no longer had the field to himself and advertising restrictions were no longer as tight. Even though the market place was becoming more competitive Lloyds was still the first to introduce pregnancy testing by post.
       Bertie died in 1994 but the business continued true to his principles of service to customers in the hands of his son Ralph. The next revolution, the internet, posed a far greater problem to Lloyds as companies around the world joined in the race to sell condoms to a world-wide audience. Seeing that he could not afford to be left behind, Ralph ventured into the realms of online sales but sadly the competition was just too fierce and Lloyds was forced out of business in 2007 so ending more than a 100 years trade. 


Keep in touch


You Write:

Gloria Writes:- 

Does anyone remember Verrichi 's icecream vans coming round the streets and you could take out a basin and get as much as you wanted. We did this when I lived in South Street, Southsea. I have never tasted ice cream like it.

Griff writes:-

Peter was talking about gas fired boilers over baths a short while ago which brought back memories for me of our very similar 1930's gas powered geyser water heater we had over the bath in our 1930's built house in Station Rd.

                      It was a huge copper monstrosity that would fetch a huge amount of money these days in copper scrap money to go on holiday with and powerful enough in kilowatt power output to power a small boat I reckon.

                        Peter is right you didn't stay in the bathroom when this thing was ceremonially lit on a Friday night as there was an art in applying the long taper lit spill match to the dark innards of this boiler to light the gas ring which would go off with a might "Whoosh" of gas ( and fumes ! ) flaring up.  The hot tap would be turned on to fill the bath with uncontrollably hot water at total 100 degrees boiling point and once the bath was filled Mum would let you back into the bathroom having cooled the steaming hot water with a long burst of cold water from the cold tap and declaring it was safe to jump into the bath having closed this contraption down by shutting off the gas and opening the window to clear the steam ( and fumes! ).

                    This too was our only source of hot water in the house and water was heated on the gas stove with the whistling kettle. 

                    My Son, who owns and runs his own Heating & Plumbing company has just installed for me the very latest all singing, all dancing, gas condensing boiler with multi directional heating & hot water zone valves and electronic heating trickery controls that would not look out of place on an advanced Apollo rocket flight deck with it's flashing lights and operating computing codes appearing in the casing screen 

                 When you think back it never ceases to amaze me with what  we had to put up with back in those far off days where it was warmer outside of the house rather than inside especially when you were scraping ice of the inside of your bedroom window to look out of it. Was your house insulated?  I know for a fact our house wasn't. Not a scrap of loft insulation for a start.

Take Care Everyone.... Melvyn ( Griff  ) Griffiths.

News and Views:

On this day 27th October 1960-1965
On 27/10/1960 the number one single was Only the Lonely - Roy Orbison and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 27/10/1961 the number one single was Walkin' Back to Happiness - Helen Shapiro and the number one album was The Shadows - Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was Stalin removed from Lenin's tomb.

On 27/10/1962 the number one single was Telstar - The Tornadoes and the number one album was Out of the Shadows - Shadows. The top rated TV show was The Royal Variety Performance (BBC) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 27/10/1963 the number one single was Do You Love Me? - Brian Poole & the Tremoloes and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 27/10/1964 the number one single was (There's) Always Something There to Remind Me - Sandy Shaw and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 27/10/1965 the number one single was Tears - Ken Dodd and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

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