A history of Beecham’s
The story of Thomas Beecham, founder of the company that went on to become part of Glaxo SmithKline, is quite extraordinary. Thomas was an uneducated shepherd who went from brewing up ‘decoctions' to becoming a full-time pill producer. He travelled from his native Oxfordshire to the burgeoning industrial revolution fuelled markets of Lancashire, lived through three marriages, and created perhaps the first effective advertising campaigns.
As author Tony Corley describes in his book, there is the story (true or untrue) of the Lancashire clergyman who asked the company to supply some hymn books in return for being allowed to show an ad on the flyleaf.
When the books arrived the clergyman was surprised to see no advertisement - until, that is, Christmas, when the congregation found themselves singing: 'Hark, the herald angels sing, Beecham's pills are just the thing, peace on earth and mercy mild; two for a man and one for a child.'
Beechams, 1848-2000: From Pills to Pharmaceuticals by Tony A B Corley is available as a paperback.