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Historic pharmacy moves to new home after 82 years serving community

Pharmacist Garry Forbes, Whitfield's managing director Peter Grundy and Easington MP Grahame Morris.
Pharmacist Garry Forbes, Whitfield's managing director Peter Grundy and Easington MP Grahame Morris.

A pharmacy has made a move to a new fit-for-purpose shop from the spot where the business was founded 82 years ago.

M Whitfield Ltd was launched by Joseph Whitfield in Sunderland Road, Horden, in 1935, and has now opened in Fourth Street, close to the Seaview Medical Centre.

The new location allows disabled customers to get easy access, and people can take advantage of a hearing loop and a private consultation room.

The founding shop, which then expanded to branches in Hartlepool, Blackhall, Wheatley Hill, Thornley, Coxhoe and Gilesgate in Durham City, was known as the ‘Top Shop’ by many.

It was opened by Joseph after he saved up money he earned as a relieving officer, giving help to the poor, and from teaching Pitman’s shorthand at night classes.

Earlier in his career he had worked as a coal cutter at Eppleton Colliery and during the strike of 1926, he heard the local relieving officer wanted help due to the high demand for his assistance.

The original shop in Horden in its early days.

The original shop in Horden in its early days.

He was first employed as a clerk before rising to the position himself four years on, taking the title of relieving officer for Easington Rural District Council in 1931, covering Horden and Shotton, where he earned the nickname Kind Joe.

He held the post for 17 years until the Poor Law was repealed in July 1948.

Meanwhile his business was developing, with other members of his family becoming involved in the pharmacy profession.

Today, the firm is run by his grandson, Peter Grundy, who has overseen the move to the new shop, which takes the place of a former carpet warehouse, and Peter’s brother John, who is a director and retired optician.

The feedback we have got from people who have been down is very good.

Peter Grundy

Peter, the company’s managing director, said: “The feedback we have got from people who have been down is very good, they like that it’s brand new and that it’s been done to a high standard.

“It has parking nearby and it’s much better for people who need disabled access, which was very important to us.

“The staff now have a room where they can take a break and make a cup of tea, which they didn’t have before.”

The new base has come in for praise from County Durham and Darlington Local Pharmaceutical Committee as a good example of a pharmacy which supports its patients and for playing a part in the community’s health service.

The new Horden branch of M Whitfield Ltd, which has moved from Sunderland Road to Fourth Street.

The new Horden branch of M Whitfield Ltd, which has moved from Sunderland Road to Fourth Street.

The new pharmacy was officially opened with the help of Easington MP Grahame Morris.

Joseph Whitfield, who founded the firm in 1935.

Joseph Whitfield, who founded the firm in 1935.