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The Partnership
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Glaxo Wellcome is known throughout the world for its pioneering work at the cutting edge of medical research and the development of new pharmaceutical products. The company has been associated with Dartford for more than a century.

The firm of Burroughs Wellcome and Co was established in London on Monday, 27th September 1880, when a deed of partnership was completed between two American pharmacists - Silas M Burroughs and Henry S Wellcome. The first factory was established at Wandsworth, but moved to a more spacious site in Dartford in 1889, with The Wellcome Foundation Ltd. being founded in 1924.

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In the early days, Burroughs Wellcome were most famous for the production of 'compressed medicines' - medicines in tablet form. The word 'Tabloid' which Wellcome coined and registered back in 1884, was to become one of the most renowned of all trade marks. The company's major products included Tabloid medicines, Cod Liver Oil and Malt, Toilet Lanoline, Hazeline Snow, saccharin, artificial ear drums, tea in Tabloid form, tonics and laxatives. Business boomed at an amazing rate between 1895 and 1920, mainly because the Company expanded into new markets overseas. Hundreds of special awards for excellence were won by the Company in scientific and trade exhibitions throughout the world.

The Company was particularly famous for its customised medicine chests supplied to explorers, aviators and members of the Royal family, H M Stanley, the explorer of Africa, carried a medicine chest prepared by Burroughs Wellcome, as did
Admiral Peary, the first person to reach the North Pole, Captain Amundsen, first to reach the South Pole, Scott of the Antarctic, Nansen, Shackleton, Bleriot, and Alcock and Brown. A wide range of medicine chests was available to match every need. The kit and content depended upon the part of the world to be visited, the climate and the type of disease likely to be encountered.

Packing room
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The Tabloid photographic outfit was an important accessory for a variety of people including explorers, missionaries and war correspondents. Burroughs Wellcome disposed of its photographic department in 1948.

Some of the Company's products have even been launched into space. The Apollo space craft carried the Wellcome product "Marezine" as a precaution against travel sickness and another Wellcome product,"Actifed", was the most widely used product in space for the relief of nasal congestion.

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A notable landmark in Company history was the start of manufacture of Insulin on a large scale at Dartford in 1923 - the first production anywhere in Britain. In addition Sulphetrone, a sulphonamide derivative used against leprosy, was first synthesised in the Wellcome chemical research laboratories and then manufactured at Dartford. Perhaps the most outstanding single piece of research work at Wellcome in the 1920s and 1930s was the isolation in 1930 by Dr Sydney Smith of one of the glycosides of Digitalis lanata, a variety of foxglove, used in the treatment of congestive heart failure.

Digitalis lanata
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Since ancient times, herbal remedies have been the mainstay of medicine. In the early days, most medicines were obtained from plants. Burroughs Wellcome established a 'materia medica' farm at Dartford as early as 1904. Here a variety of crops were cultivated such as deadly nightshade, foxglove, henbane, thornapple and aconite, which provided pharmacologically active compounds on extraction. people. Wild animals came to drink on the banks of the river channels, and could be easily hunted. The river environment also provided a rich variety of plants and aquatic species.

The 1950s saw the introduction of a number of pioneering products such as Migril, used to combat migraine, Alcopar, used to treat hookworm in humans, and 'Daraprim' used to combat malaria. The Actifed range of remedies introduced in the 1960s achieved major success as decongestants. Septrin, introduced in 1968,was used as a treatment for a wide range of bacterial infections.

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Aerial view of Dartford site
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Since those early days, the Company has been innovative, keeping pace with the requirements of the needs for medicines in an ever-changing world. In 1995, Wellcome Plc merged with Glaxo Plc. As new Glaxo Wellcome products from the research pipeline continue to break through frontiers in the world of medicine they are improving the quality of life for patients by preventing or treating some of the most important diseases. The Company's wide-ranging portfolio of products includes treatments for diseases such as asthma, migraine, herpes, hepatitis B, epilepsy, stomach ulcers, the side effects of chemotherapy and HIV/AIDS.

Located alongside the residents of Temple Hill, Glaxo Wellcome is keenly aware of its environmental responsibilities, and the company operates a strictly applied policy designed to safeguard the environment. The Environmental Management Centre is the focal point for all waste minimisation and re-cycling. Where materials cannot be re-used, they are treated or destroyed using on-site facilities, including a waste-to-energy plant. This recycles energy from waste and supplies up to 30 per cent of the site's steam requirements.

Dartford site - present day
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As the town's major employer, Glaxo Wellcome takes its role in the local community very seriously, and operates a 'good neighbour' policy. A wide range of educational establishments, charities and organisations have benefited as a result of the Company's enthusiastic involvement in the life of the town. The Sports and Social Club at Acacia Hall in Dartford's town centre was one of the UK's first dedicated social facilities for employees. It was established in June 1899 by Henry Wellcome, a pioneer of employee welfare, an ethos that continues to the present day.

In 2000 the Boards of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham have announced that they have unanimously agreed the terms of a proposed merger of equals to form GlaxoSmithKline, the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical company.

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