Who remembers Fennings Fever Cure?

That was the question posed by 99-year-old Mrs Lilian Hallam.

The answer is that loads of readers do, plus other medicines that might not pass today’s health and safety regulations. Fennings, for instance, also produced a cure for cholera!

Bronwen Cruickshank said: “I remember that in the 1940s/50s, I and my younger brother were dosed with an egg cupful of this if we ever had a sore throat or a cold. I can still remember it setting my teeth on edge, shuddering, and then running my tongue over my teeth after taking it, with the distinct feeling that all the enamel had been stripped from them. Not surprising, really, as it contained dilute nitric acid!

“Thinking about home medication from the past, I remember my father once making my brother, Douglas, who was suffering from a really bad sore throat, drink some Sloans Liniment, an embrocation which contained chilli peppers, and was used as an external treatment of strains and sprains.

“He went beetroot red and nearly choked but it didn’t seem to do him any harm as he is still playing rugby at the age of 71, most recently this year in Australia for the Bahtats Masters Rugby Team, and in 2013 he cycled from the Eiffel Tower to Blackpool Tower to raise money for a cancer charity.”

Douglas Parkin was born in Huddersfield, became a Master Butcher and played a lot of rugby in the town. He now lives in Tarleton, near Southport, where he had his own shop until he retired.

“Maybe all these strange medications turned out to be good for us,” added Bronwen, “as my father reached a good age and my mother was 103-years-old when she died in 2009.

Douglas Parkin is top row second left, at the end of the Paris to Blackpool bike ride.
 

“May I send Happy Birthday greetings to Mrs Lilian Hallam and I hope she will have many more birthdays to come. Could her great age be all down to taking Fennings Fever Cure in her childhood?”

Paula Shaw, of Marsden, adds another glowing reference: “It was one of my favourite ‘swigs’ from the Medicine cupboard in the bathroom. I loved it! Don’t know what was in it or what it did but it was always there alongside the Syrups of Figs and the Witch Hazel. And whatever happened to the Kaolin and Morphine stomach powder?”

Chris Langton was given Fennings in the 1950s. “I didn’t mind the taste. What I hated was another ‘medicine’ called Angiers Emulsion. Emulsion was probably a good description because it had the consistency of paint and stuck to the roof of your mouth.”

Sue Tattersley loved Fennings so much she drank it straight from the bottle. “I have no idea what was in it or whether or not it was harmful to drink it like that, but I never gave it a thought at the time.”

Joyce Mackrill says her mother had to hide the Fennings. “I liked the taste of it so much I used to climb up to reach it in the cupboard. We also always had Dr White’s Kompo for when we came home chilled. Wish we could still get these old remedies.”

Dianne Lewis says: “My mum had very predictable responses to any indication of illness or general malaise. I was given Fennings Fever Cure AND California syrup of figs. Needless to say, I developed great stoicism as the ‘cure’ was far worse than the illness. Fever Cure was vile. I have researched its contents and, according to the Select Committee on Patent Medicines 1914, it was: ‘a dilute solution of nitric acid and peppermint water.

“Later, we went onto the more sophisticated Fennings Cooling Powders. As a nurse prescriber, I am delighted to discover they were predominantly phenacetin, something else you may not choose to administer to an infant. Mum also used to insist on a regular treatment of ‘worm cakes’ – just in case – a similar regime to puppy rearing!

“In spite of this I, like you, have survived to be a ‘baby boomer’ who is thoroughly enjoying my third age.”