Evan C. Ashford was as his name implies a Welshman a native of Larhne, Carmarthenshire born in 1844. He came from a West End London firm of chemists to Northampton in 1863 as an assistant to Mr E. E. Welchman (Late senior partner of the firm Welchman and Sons.) After passing the modified Examination in December 1868 he established his own business at 32, Horsemarket, formally the site of Henry Simco, also a chemist and druggist. After a short period at this address he returned to 24 Gold Street having bought Mr. Welchmans business upon retirement. Having succeeded to Mr. Welchmans business Evan Ashford also purchased the rights to manufacture Welchmans Acidulated Squill and Ipecacuanha Lozenges. A right he appeared to share with Philadelphus Jeyes and Co. who also advertised the sale of this product.
By 1884, E.C. Ashford had opened his mineral Water manufacturing warehouse at 27 Horsemarket where he produced both aerated water and Ginger Beer. Bottles from this warehouse have now desirable items amongst bottle collectors as he used "bowler" type soda water bottles; internal bullet stoppers; and as well as the standard type of codd bottle, a taller variation with double indentations and a bulbed-neck variation.
Of particular interest is the white stone ginger beer bottle with an underglaze transfer label showing the musical scale of "E.C.A", by way of a highly personalised trade-mark. Very few of these stone bottles remain but examples can be seen at Northampton museum and the Stoke Bruene Canal Museum.
After twenty years trading at this site E.C.A. made another move to larger premises although remaining in the important though fare of Gold Street by transferring his business to number 32.
Whilst at this address Mr. Ashford participated in the popular Victorian mode of packing and selling many household commodities in earthenware pots, the lids printed with advertising. Another desirable collectors item Ashford’s pot lid was used for the then popular toilet preparation Otto of Rose Cold Cream.
Towards the end of the century Mr. Ashford closed his Aerated Water Manufacturing Depot and began to expand his retail premises. In 1893 new premises at 28 Wellington Place Barrack Road were opened but by 1900 had been sold to George Ingle chemist. In succession to this further new premises were opened at 70, St James Road, by which time Evans son Fredrick C. Ashford had qualified as a chemist and commenced his own business at 79 St Leonards Road.
From these new premises Mr. Ashford developed a large general and family trade achieving much fame with his speciality proprietary medicines. In addition to Welshman’s Lozenges trade leaflets and advertisements were issued for Ashford’s Celebrated Essence of Linseed, Simco’s Tongue and Fever powders, and Ritovare Voice Lozenges. Testimonials usually accompanied such advertisements, the Welshman’s Lozenges being well supported by two local eminent physicians of their day Dr. William Kerr and Dr. Arch. Robertson. Simco’s Powders were produced from a formula originally used by Henry Simco, whose business E.C.A. had purchased. The most notable of these products however was the Ritrovare Lozenges, these were sent all over the world and won testimonials from miss Mary Anderson.
By 1901, F.C.A. had moved his sop to a more prominent position at 1. St. Leonards Road and thus established the Northampton landmark Ashford’s corner.
An early advertisement for Ritrovare Voice Lozenges showing the musical scale of E.C.A. originally used on the stone ginger beer bottles.
Further changes were made shortly before the outbreak of World War I, when E.C.A again made another move in Gold Street, to smaller premises at Number 52, selling his shop at number 32 to Curzons Café. The St. James Road premises was also sold about this time to J.L.S. Hall chemist.
In September 1921, E.C.A. died suddenly at the age of 77 years whilst serving in his shop. He took little part in public affairs other than serving a term of office in 1904 as vice president of the Northampton Pharmacists Association. He was a founder of the local Cymric Society and was for many years a member of College St Chapel.
Mr Ashford claimed English descent and used to say that one of his ancestors was the Rev. Thomas Ashford who in 1374 was presented to the living of Harlestone by Edward III.
By 1936 the business at St. Leonards Road had been taken over by A Vernon Ashford, son of F.C.A. who continued to trade until his retirement in 1973.
The Ashfords in Far Cotton
In the 1890's Evan Ashfords son Fredrick opened a chemist shop of his own in 79 St Leonards Road, somewhere opposite Haines Road.
In 1900 he moved to 1 St Leonards Road, which became known as 'Ashfords Corner'. Freds son (Arthur) Vernon was born at the old premises on January 1st 1900 and was carried as a babe in arms to No. 1. Fred following his fathers maxim of 'always have more than one string to your bow' opened a Dental Surgery at the shop. He was for many years a Town Councillor and later Alderman of Northampton. After the First World War Vernon qualified as a "Chemist and Druggist" and worked with Fred: His second string was Photography working both for Police and General Hospital. One of his assignments was to take pictures of the burned out car at the scene of the "Rouse Murder" in Hardingstone. When he took over the business, Vernons new 'Second String' was X-ray photography owning one of the few privately operated machines in the country.
In the 1970's Graham Teal purchased the shop from Vernon, thus ending almost 150 years of Ashford family involvement with Pharmacy in Northampton.. The shop in St Leonards Road closed as a Pharmacy after the 1998 flood. Its NHS contract was transferred to a new shop in the Cattle Market.
"The Ashfords in Far Cotton" was compiled by Bob Watts, Pharmacist at Ashfords Corner 1962-1972. He left to become a partner in Beirne and Watts, Barrack Road, ironically a business started by Evan Ashford.