A HISTORIC city centre pharmacy with 175 years of remedying customers’ ailments now faces its own health battle to survive into its next century.

Business partners Sajid Hussain and Qaisar Sheikh, who both trained as pharmacists at Bradford University and re-established the Rimmington’s business after buying the Bridge Street shop from national chain Lloyds, are determined to make it.

With 14 years still left on the lease, Mr Hussain, 39, says it will be a battle to get to the 200th anniversary.

But, with continued and new customer support, the business is in good health.

Market changes, including more GPs having their own on-site pharmacies and supermarkets opening chemists in store, are taking their toll, he says. Reforms brought in by the Department of Health putting prescription ordering back into the hands of patients are also making an impact.

“The Government has put prescription ordering back into patients hands. The problem is they don’t always order, they are not always compliant and we are seeing the effect of this now. We’ve seen about a 20 per cent drop in prescriptions coming through so we need people’s support now more than ever before.

“We want to say thank you to all the customers who are with us in our 175th year and want more to join us to make it to 200 years. They are our life-line,” added Mr Hussain.

Rimmington’s has introduced its own one-step electronic prescription service, relying on people nominating it as their prescription pharmacy for picking up medicines or having them delivered for free to Bradford homes. It also gives free flu jabs to over 18s funded out of its own pocket.

“We are appealing or people’s support. their prescription can preserve the Rimmington’s legacy. It’s part of the city’s heritage. We are now serving third or fourth generation customers. The market place is changing. We can’t say we are comfortable. We have high rates and rents but we will never leave the pharmacy because no one could run it like us. We live off the Rimmington’s ethos of outstanding service. We’ve never had the privilege of location being next to a surgery or hospital but we have got the privilege of being an institution and we want to build on that,” said Mr Hussain.Also investing for the future, Rimmington’s trains up two pharmacy students from the city’s university each year as well as employing an apprentice.

“Our founder Felix Rimmington would be proud,” he said.

Felix Rimmington was a community chemist by day and a crime investigator by night in the 19th century.

He helped in trying to solve the Jack the Ripper murders by working on post mortem examinations of the victims and was also famous for finding the cause of a notorious local accidental poisoning scandal in 1858 which killed 20 children, customers of “Humbug Billy” who made and sold peppermints in Bradford’s Green Market. He also once wrote to the local newspaper advising ladies not to wear poisonous evening gowns after he found a dangerous compound of arsenic and copper was used to colour gowns a parrot green.