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GSK marks 300th Anniversary

GSK is 300 years old.

On 9 November 1715, Silvanus Bevan from Swansea established the Plough Court pharmacy in London, the family company that grew into Allen and Hanburys which, in turn, become part of GlaxoWellcome. GlaxoWellcome merged with SmithKline Beecham on 1 January 2001 to become GlaxoSmithKline.

From Silvanus and a couple of assistants in the back of the apothecary shop, GSK has grown to employ 100,000 people worldwide, some 15,000 of them working in the UK across six research and development centres, nine manufacturing sites and five offices – including GSK’s global headquarters in London.

The General Manager of GSK UK Pharma, Nikki Yates, says it is a remarkable milestone for any company to be moving into its fourth century:

“I’m extremely proud of all the history we have behind us and the foundation that these generations of people have given us to continue our mission to help more people do more, feel better and live longer. It is a quite remarkable achievement to be able to trace our roots back to one young entrepreneur in 1715.

“It is clear that our predecessors worked hard to stay ahead and to be the best. We continue in their footsteps: not just seeking to innovate in what we do but also in how we do it. That is why we were the first company in our industry to sign up to the AllTrials clinical transparency campaign and, most recently, the first to adopt groundbreaking changes to make ourselves more transparent in our relationships with prescribers .”


By coincidence, one of the scientists working today in new medicines discovery at GSK’s global R&D centre in Stevenage, Graham Simpson, is the seven times great nephew of Silvanus Bevan:

“As I lead a team seeking to discover novel approaches to treat cancers and muscle wasting disorders, I am carrying on the legacy of my direct ancestor. His focus on bringing high quality, safe and innovative medicines to patients is continued in our work today. He cannot have imagined that his start-up apothecary would be the founding business of GSK. We have come a very long way since then and I am immensely pleased to be one of the many scientists who are following in Silvanus Bevan’s footsteps.”