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Photographs taken by or belonging to John James Frowde (Chemist and Amateur Photographer)

Date(s): 1890-1940

Creator(s): Frowde, John James

Scope & Content: Amateur photography notable for capturing images of Douglas prior to and during extensive demolition work near Douglas inner harbour, 1932-1934 and for Frowde's accompanying informative and anecdotal captions - these surprise, entertain and lament the passing of a part of Douglas around North Quay which changed considerably in the early 1930s. Frowde recorded the network of alleyways and buildings and something of the essence of the people who called it home. 

The images are arranged in eighteen series which complement Frowde's original ordering. Routes 1 to 5 images are medium prints packaged with their paper sleeves on which Frowde wrote ink captions. On other prints Frowde wrote notes on the reverse.

Administration / Biographical History: John James Frowde (1868-1946), son of John Frowde (c.1812-1873), a tailor and draper and Margaret née Cowley (c.1830-1908) was a prominent chemist and optician in the town of Douglas in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Isle of Man.

In the 1880s a chemist named William Augustus McKown (b.1857) had a business in ‘The Medical Hall’, Victoria Street, Douglas. By 1 December 1883 he had opened a branch at 4 Windsor Road, Douglas. In 1887 McKown sold the Windsor Road branch to chemist and dentist Albert Edward Woodward (1864-1897). Woodward conducted business until 1891 when he sold it to John James Frowde and moved to a pharmacy on Broadway; in 1891 the Windsor Road chemist business was known as ‘The Galen Pharmacy’. Frowde conducted his chemist business in Windsor Road for over fifty-four years; by 1929 he had moved from 4 to 1 Windsor Road.

In 1893 Frowde married Amy Fenelon (1872-1954). The couple had two daughters, Elaine Fenelon Bregazzi (1902-1972) and Enid Marguerite Frowde (1904-1986). Frowde was a committed member of the Victoria Street Methodist Church (Douglas) and a member of Douglas Wesleyan Methodist Mutual Improvement Association. He was a great music lover, a subscriber to the Manx Music Festival and was the organist at Victoria Street Church and St Trinians Masonic Lodge. Frowde died in 1946, aged 77. His body was buried in Douglas Borough Cemetery.

Frowde regularly deposited material in the Manx Museum and he took a deep interest in old Douglas. He had an excellent knowledge of the history of Douglas and created a fine collection of photographs, accompanying them with detailed handwritten captions about the buildings, connected people or related anecdotes. He had the foresight to capture the alleyways and streets near North Quay, Douglas prior to and during extensive demolition work 1932-1934. In 1948 many of his photographs were used in the ‘Old Douglas’ exhibition at the Manx Museum in celebration of the museum’s 25th anniversary.

Frowde handed his chemist business to his nephew Bert. Bert Fenelon Hemensley (1898-1980) was the son of Albert Palmer Hemensley (c.1872-1898) and Lena née Fenelon (c.1873-1941). Interestingly Albert Palmer Hemensley was also a chemist and in 1893 he took over the Broadway Pharmacy business of Mr Woodward, before dying prematurely in 1898. Bert later passed the Windsor Road business (now known as Hemensleys Pharmacy) to his son John (c.1926-2006). The business is now run by John's son Ian (b.1972).

Language: English

Collection: Photographic Archive

Level: FONDS

ID number: PG/8224

Record class: Private

Access conditions: No regulations or restrictions are implemented on this material. Original resources available for viewing. Advance notification of a research visit to the MNH Library and Archives is advisable by emailing


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