Sydney has an amazing skyline, which has over the course of the centuries evolved and changed. Over time, buildings have been built and demolished, houses have come and gone and the skyline has evolved to reflect the increasingly tall and modern city. This photo, taken by an unknown photographer in 1936 shows a Sydney skyline which is not only lower than the one we see today, but which includes many buildings and terraces which have now disappeared.
The photo also shows some of the signs which once adorned so many of our buildings, the most dominant of which is that of Washington H. Soul Pattinson Manufacturing Chemists. Although many may recognise the name Soul Pattinson as a popular and well known chemist, the name Washington H. Soul Pattinson may be a little less familiar, yet it is one of Australia’s most successful and historic family run companies.
Caleb Soul arrived in Australia in 1863. He was an Englishman who had experience working in the drug industry not only in his homeland of England, but also in America. He soon realised the potential for a retail chemist which could import drugs and patent medicines from England and America. He opened a pharmacy in Pitt Street in 1872 advertising his products as sold at the same cost they would be found in London and New York. The business, which operated out of a single room, was a great success but he wasn’t trading under his own name. He felt that his sons name, Washington, sounded more honest, so he sold his products under the name Washington H. Soul. Within a year larger premises were needed and the pharmacy moved, though it remained in Pitt Street. In 1886 their current building was destroyed by fire but a replacement, called the Phoenix Building, was built in the same location and this building not only still stands today, but continues to trade as a Soul Pattinson Chemist. By 1890 the pharmacy was operating six stores in Sydney and by 1940 Lewy Pattinson was able to fund the donation of the first aeroplane in the Royal Flying Doctor Service based at Broken Hill.
Today though, Washington H. Soul Pattinson is more than simply the chemist chain we all know so well. Washington H. Soul Pattinson is a highly diversified investment house with holdings not just in pharmacy, but in areas including building materials, natural resources, media and telecommunications and even fund management!