Agnes Borrowman

Agnes Borrowman

Agnes Borrowman was the first woman to serve on the Society's Board of Examiners.

Agnes Thomson Borrowman had started her career in her native Scotland. She, like many other women in this era, had worked in the early part of her career in an environment where customers often walked out of the shop rather than let a girl serve them. In the early 1900s, she spent some time as a research assistant, building up expertise in the synthesis of rubber, artificial silk, and paper-making materials.

Meanwhile, Agnes Borrowman, having returned to retail pharmacy, came to The Pavement in 1914, alongside Margaret Buchanan. Miss Borrowman became the sole proprietor after World War One, and this remained her registered address until her death in 1955.

17 The Pavement, Clapham Common

By 1923, of the 15 girls trained at 17 The Pavement who studied at the Pharmaceutical Society's School of Pharmacy, 14 had taken prizes and scholarships. As The Pharmaceutical Journal of December 15th asked "Is there another pharmacy in the country that can beat this record?" Miss Borrowman claimed that the pharmacy was imbued with "the Deane spirit." Under her leadership, the business was staffed entirely by women, and as far as possible, everything was made on the premises, rather than holding large stocks of proprietary medicines. She believed firmly that if women were given the opportunity, they could achieve just as much as male pharmacists. She wrote to The Pharmaceutical Journal on December 10th 1917:
"During the last ten years women in pharmacy have proved by their college careers that they have enthusiasm, that they intend to take first place, that nothing less will satisfy them. Unless I am very much mistaken, the same enthusiasm and determination will carry them through in the business world into which this war [World War One] has given them the entry."

Miss Borrowman was the first female member of the Society's Board of Examiners, thus displaying her commitment to education and training.

In the Society's first Register of Premises of 1936, the business is registered as A.T.Borrowman. In January 1945, the pharmacy was badly damaged by a V2 bomb that fell nearby. Miss Borrowman was severely shaken and had to rest outside London for some time to recover. It was at this point that she converted the business into a limited company, called Deane and Co. Chemists Ltd, with Miss Hilda Francis Wells as Director. Miss Wells had served her apprenticeship at The Pavement, from 1918. She worked at the Pavement until 1957, and emigrated to South Africa in 1966.

Agnes Borrowman died in 1955, aged 74.

Image top: Agnes Borrowman
Image middle: 17 The Pavement, Clapham Common