Event Report – Fascinating excursion into pharmaceutical history

Event Report – Fascinating excursion into pharmaceutical history

Meeting | July 2017 | by Bernie Driessen

In front of a meeting that broke two records—around a dozen descendants of one ancestor present;and more medical professionals in theroom than ever before—James Delahunty kept 120 attendees enthralled with his account of pharmacy in Brisbane.

Many of those at the meeting would have remembered James as the ‘Ekka Pharmacist’, as that was a position he held for 29 years, up until 2000. He has owned nearly 20 pharmacies, either outright or in partnership, including one of the first online pharmacies in Australia.

James has lectured many a pharmacy student and along the way honed an interest in pharmacy history. Through this he has built up a remarkable collection of antique pharmacy items which he displayed for our edification and amazed amusement.

The subject of his talk was Moses Ward, who started business as a chemist and dentist in Ann Street, Fortitude Valley,in 1862, after leaving his former home of Devonshire, England. His Apothecaries Hall still functions,retaining something of its original character by ‘dispensing custom drinks – a remedy for all that ails you.’

By 1875 Mr Ward had moved to Queen Street where he advertised as a wholesale druggist as well as a family-dispensing chemist and dentist. Early advertisements stated that he was the sole agent for Ashton and Parson’s Homeopathic Medicines. He was also a purveyor of popular carbonated drinks and Ceylon tea.

Several of Mr Ward’s relatives who were at the meeting had followed in his footsteps as either dentists, pharmacists or chemists. During the lively question time following Mr Delahunty’s address, a query was raised as to the distinction between a chemist and a pharmacist. The following might clarify. A chemist walks into a drug store and asks the pharmacist, “Do you have any acetylsalicylic acid?” “You mean aspirin?” asked the pharmacist. “That’s it,
I can never remember that word.”

Moses Ward carried on in his business very successfully for about 20 years, acquiring a considerable sum out of the profits of his business and judicious land speculation. He also invested sizeable sums in various public companies,
including the Metropolitan Tramway and Investment Co. Limited which planned a city network of horse-
drawn trams.

The severe depression, culminating in the banking and commercial crisis of 1893, saw him lose a lot of money.
In addition, he had purchased the West Moreton Coal Mine which operated at a loss.In 1895, he applied for
a certificate of insolvency with the Supreme Court.

Once retired, Mr and Mrs Ward went to live in Hobart where Moses died in 1914.

If Moses Ward were alive today, we would probably prescribe something for his unusually high energy levels.
As well as being a successful businessman and entrepreneur, he loved to travel and actively encouraged UK migrants to our state. He remains a colourful and accomplished character born of the folklore of early Queensland history.
Sincere thanks to James for his superb talk, and for organising such substantial lucky door prizes