Meet the man behind Buxton’s most fascinating chemist

Stuart Clowes at his families shop
Stuart Clowes at his families shop

A pharmacist who is planing a cycling trip around America next year lived in Bermuda for four years before joining the family business.

Stuart Clowes is the second generation to work at the grade II listed Clowes Chemist on Buxton’s Quadrant.

Stuart Clowes at his families shop

Stuart Clowes at his families shop

The 60-year-old said: “I never wanted to be a chemist - I wanted to be a marine biologist, it was my dad who was the pharmacist not me.

“However, I realised jobs were few and far between and independently I chose to study for a degree in pharmaceuticals.”

After studying at Aston University in Birmingham, Stuart did his apprenticeship at the City General Hospital which is now the Royal Stoke University Hospital.

The dad-of-two said: “I felt people expected me to come to Buxton and work with my dad but I just wasn’t ready to.”
An opportunity to work in Bermuda arose and Stuart jumped at the chance.

He said: “I wanted to fly my kite and live a little.

“Nowadays it is commonplace to see pharmacies in supermarkets but in the 1980s it was fairly new and a pharmacist was needed to help run it.

“Bermuda is a very mixed country - it has the feel of colonial England but then there are people walking around in Bermuda shorts.”

Stuart was over in Bermuda for four-and-a-half years and even joined a folk band while he was there.

On his return to England he worked in Evesham, Worcestershire, where he bought a house with his then wife.

After just over a year the business was bought out by Lloyds pharmacy and as Stuart did not want to work for a big company, he made the decision to commute and work with his dad in Buxton.

He said: “The timing couldn’t have been worse, we had just decorated and were making roots. I spent about six months working with my dad and enjoyed every second.

“It became too much to commute every weekend so I moved up here in 1991 and I have never looked back.”
Clowes Chemists was built in 1875 and Stuart’s father took it over in 1949 until he retired in the early 1990s.

Stuart added: “I consider myself a custodian of the fittings.”

Taking to the road to unwind

Even though the walls are filled with old jars and bottles, Stuart says he is no longer able to mix people up a quick home-made remedy as there is too much red tape involved.

His son is currently working with him but is not qualified.

Stuart said: “I won’t push him as I know how important it is to make your own path in the world.”

In his spare time, Stuart, who lives on Corbar Road, Buxton, likes to enjoy cycling.

The former Buxton Community School pupil went to a reunion in the summer and after reconnecting with old faces the plan is to now have another meet-up in America where one of his class mates now lives.

He said: “We are going to do a 500-mile cycle down the east coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco which will be great fun.

“I go mountain biking most weekends so this will be a challenge and nice to do it with friends.”