About Us

1969: In July 1969 Alan Shepherd walked on the Moon. In September 1969 Dennis Ogle walked into 20 St John’s as the proud owner of a Pharmacy. The difference could not have been greater because as Alan Shepherd was at the sharp end of rocket technology, Dennis was walking back in time into a Pharmacy that had been little changed from the Edwardian style the previous owner had kept it in. Shelves were filled with old Victorian shop rounds in green and blue. Large carboys of coloured liquid stood in the windows, dark mahogany shelving displayed a few medicinal items and behind the counter there was a “drug run”, a set of eighteen small square drawers, each with a glass label and a glass knob, with such names as Alexandrian Senna pods, Bismuth Carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, and other pharmaceutical paraphernalia. The dispensary was over in one corner behind a glass screen on which the word Dispensary was etched. A dispensing bench four feet long was the work surface and all labels were hand written. At the end of the counter stood a brass push-button till, with a total ring up of 9/11, that is nine shillings and eleven pence old money, just short of 50p new money. Under the drawer was the maker’s name, Avery and a date of 1916. It was push-button, however, not a sit up and beg job, with huge levered keys. It lasted several years, till decimalisation in 1971 made it redundant.

Mr Ogle

The total floor area including the dispensary and the long counter was fifteen feet by ten and in that space four staff, Dennis Ogle, a dispenser and two shop assistants worked for several years, using several rooms and a stairwell as storage. When the previous owner decided to vacate the flat upstairs Dennis saw his chance, moved a lot of stock, and the precious pharmaceutical antiques upstairs and began the first of the renovations. Walls were demolished, structural RSJs were put in place and a new, very modern shop front, all plate glass, emerged. The old shop became the entrance and a big dispensary with a large window into the shop was necessary for the huge increase in prescriptions Ogle’s Pharmacy was processing. Staff increased, new technology came in, first typewriters, then blue screen computers arrived.

Shop front

1979: By 1979 we had outgrown No 20 and when No 18, a Hairdressing Salon, came up for sale Dennis bought it and knocked down the intervening wall, fitted out a state of the art pharmacy, built a huge back shop for the increased business and computerised all patients’ records as well as a EPOS (electronic point of sale) system for over the counter sales and stock control.

At the same time he realised that the modern shop front was not in keeping with St John’s and after consulting old photographs and plans he had re-constructed the façade of a Victorian pharmacy, albeit with every technological capability of the time.

Recognising that St John’s, although technically a suburb of Worcester, was a stand alone village in its own right he invented the phrase, the village in the city and went knocking on the City Guildhall door to have the township better recognised, with proper street furniture and paving in keeping with the area, our own Christmas tree in December and communal activities centred round the 14th c. Church, St John in Bedwardine.

The Co-Op had opened a supermarket close by and residents did not have to cross the river any more for their groceries. Inevitably the conurbation, by this time numbering 20,000 or so, was ripe for another supermarket. The best solution, to prevent a mass exodus of customers to an out of town site, was to have an in-centre development, which Dennis fought for. There was resistance, but with the mantra, Competition is the Life of Trade, an in-centre Sainsbury’s was built, serving not only St John’s residents but outlying satellite villages such as Rushwick, Hallow and Dines Green. Malvern shoppers come in to St John’s to shop filling the streets with customers.

2009: Dennis has decided to reduce his working hours but his place has been ably filled by David, his son, who works just as hard, if not harder, to keep the ethos of one of the few family Pharmacies left, alive, giving fantastic service, knowing the customers by name mostly and giving advice on everything from athlete’s foot to veruccas.

He has a superb team of Dispensing Technicians who have absorbed the standard set by himself and his father.

Medicine counter assistants help with everyday advice and the cosmetic department is very knowledgeable for skin care.

Many patients have doctors on the Worcester side of the river so we thought that a prescription collection and delivery service would be popular. This has indeed been a godsend, especially to elderly patients and busy office staff who find surgery hours difficult to come to terms with. The collection service also takes in the two surgeries in St John’s and as we are open all day Saturday collection of prescriptions is easy for the time-poor father, mother, carer, shop or office worker.

The Web-site, where you are probably reading this little journey through over forty years in the life of a community pharmacy is always being improved, so wander down through it at your leisure.

The pharmacy sometimes feels like a swan, serene on top but everyone, including the back-room secretaries and book-keepers pedalling like mad to keep everything on course.

With a superb database of prescriptions, patients and medicines Ogle’s is fully equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

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