In August 2015, Historic England listed Kent’s Chemist, 104 Walton Road, as a Grade II listed building.
It cited the following principal reasons for its listing:
Architectural interest: in its strong decorative treatment, particularly the shopfront with distinctive mosaic signage, the building is testament to the imaginative approach to commercial architecture of the period, as well as clearly expressing its history and function in its design and detail;
Historic interest: as a purpose-built manifestation of a longstanding local family business;
Level of survival: in its unusually complete exterior survival.
The listing is due to the efforts of the East Molesey Conservation Areas Advisory Committee, who spent a considerable time gathering information before submitting a detailed application on 2nd September 2014. Molesey Local History Society is pleased that it was able to help the Committee by providing information about the building’s history.
The land at the corner of Walton and Spencer Roads on which Kent’s Chemist stands previously formed part of the Molesey Park Estate; the mosaic shop sign on the property describes it as ‘Molesey Park Pharmacy’. In 1893 the land was bought by Beatrice Mary Kent of 4 Walton Place, East Molesey, the wife of William Henry Plaisted Kent. In February 1894 Mrs. Kent entered into a contract with a builder, Joseph Dorking, for the erection on the land of a shop and residence in accordance with drawings prepared by the architects, Tinker and Morewood. The residential accommodation, which was behind and above the shop, was known as ‘Norfolk House’ and was possibly so called as Beatrice Kent was born in Norfolk.
The date-stone on the building states that the business was ‘Established AD 1869’. We believe that Frederick William Kent moved to East Molesey from Bath about this time and that he opened a chemist’s shop in premises known as 1 Walton Place, now Walton Road, in 1869. The 1881 census states that F. W. Kent was running a chemist’s and post office in Walton Road and shows that his 17-year-old son, William Henry Plaisted Kent, was his assistant. F. W. Kent died in 1890 and his son, William, took over his chemist’s business, moving it to this property about 1894.
The chemist’s business passed from William, who died in 1930, to his son, Frederick Charles Kent, who had qualified as a chemist in 1914. F. C. Kent ran the business until he retired in 1960, when he sold it to Mr. J. F. Norrie who already owned Gould’s Pharmacy, West Molesey, and a chemist shop in Terrace Road, Walton. The signage on the building shows that at one time it was also used as a post office, known as Molesey Park Post Office. According to the Molesey Review of March 1960 this post office closed in 1915.
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