A glass Castor Oil Bottle manufactured by Parkinsons’ Ltd, Burnley, Lancashire. Castor Oil is a yellow-coloured vegetable oil made from castor beans. This oil can be used as a laxative to speed up digestion for people with stomach problems. In Ancient Egyptian times Castor Oil was used to induce labour in expectant mothers although medical science has said that there were no benefits of doing this. In many countries a spoonful of Castor Oil was seen as a punishment for a child who was misbehaving or trying to get a day off school through faking illness. Hospitals have used this product to prepare the abdomen for x-rays. People also see the benefits of using this oil on problem skin areas like acne, bruises and sunburn. Castor Oil is an ingredient found in many DIY products like paints as well as perfumes, soaps and household cleaning solutions.

The marketing packing for Parkinsons’ Castor Oil reads:
Castor Oil Extra Refined
Specially Prepared
Easily Taken by Ladies and Children

The History of Parkinsons’ Ltd (Parkinsons’ & Sons until 1928)

Richard Parkinson set up a chemist business with his brother in 1848, with his two sons later following him into the business. The business pre-dates the NHS and provided products for most ailments that could be purchased at a corner shop. Parkinsons’ were the first company in the world to invent sugar coated tablets to take away the bitter aftertaste that tablets usually had. These sugar-coated tablets could be purchased at 1p for a box. They produced many medicines like Castor Oil that were to cure stomach complaints. At one stage they were believed to be manufacturing more pills than any other company worldwide. It wasn’t just medicines that they produced but a whole range of products.

Cough lozenges, headache powders, tooth nerve tablets, Camphor mustard, back & kidney pills, Bismuthated Magnesia tablets, syrup of rhubarb, balsams and plasters.

Borax, beetle and insect powder, black ink and furniture paste.

Baking powder, custard powder, cochineal, rainbow dyes, egg powders, pickling spices
beauty shampoos, cold cream, hair oil, skin tablets & face powder.

Parkinsons’ ceased trading in 1983 after 135 years in business.








Key theme(s):


More information:

Date 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s
Material(s) Glass
Item number MBPO309

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • Can you remember ever purchasing a Parkinsons' product?
  • Were you given Castor Oil as a child for being mischievous?
  • Can you remember the school nurse? Did they ever give you a spoonful of Cod Liver Oil or maybe a spoonful of something else?

User Stories

I can’t ever remember having Cod Liver Oil at school but I can remember being given a spoonful of dark brown and thick malt extract by my mum – Memory Box Volunteer

Share your thoughts on this item

Join the discussion by sharing your memories of this item with other website visitors.