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Home > An Apothecary In the Making...

An Apothecary In the Making...



Sydney George Clayton was born in Catford, London, in 1897. He had an interest and natural curiosity in simple chemistry. Although not formally trained he developed his first preparation of  an early antiseptic formula which he named 'the Green Ointment'. He produced a label and an early invoice exists from the 1910's.


Whilst serving in Cairo, Egypt, after the First World War, he witnessed at first hand, the woeful shortages of first aid and medical equipment. Thick wadding camouflaged bandages were tightly packed to fit into a soldier's leg pocket, and crudely made pole stretchers, Canvass haversacks, and the instantly recognisable military vehicles with their red cross on a white circle painted on the side.  This exposure and these images formed ideas which were later to be turned into business opportunities.  


Sydney developed his interests on his return, and started to trade in first aid dressings.The Factories Act and the Coal Mining Act were the first to legislate for the use of first aid at work. They were the forerunners of the various Health & Safety Acts that were to follow. 


He made first aid kits out of  wooden ammunition boxes and tin boxes. He sold buckets of sand, an everyday part of London life to help extinguish fires caused by the bombing during the Blitz of 1940.

Encouraged by his daughter Joan, a British Red Cross trained nurse, Sydney founded ‘Clayton (Surgical & First Aid) Limited’ which was eventually incorporated in 1957. From premises in Greenwich, South East London he supplied mainly London and the Home Counties. With little more than a  telephone directory and a typewriter, Sydney managed to build a customer base and trade developed. 


Dressings were manufactured in cotton from Lancashire textile mills. To this day we source dressings from manufacturers who are still based in the North Westat.  However, nowadays these cotton dressings are imported from abroad, with only the sterilisation process being performed in the UK.. 



Sydney re-established the business in Otford, near Sevenoaks in Kent.  It was here, on Sundays, that he used to prepare large vats of his 'Green Ointment' only now he called it Clayton's Brand Antiseptic Healing Ointment. The aroma of the Eucalyptus ingredient permeated the village much to the annoyance of the local Vicarwho would be taking his Sunday Service.

Together with his daughter, Sydney began sewing an absorbent dressing onto the 'Wide Open Wove' cotton bandage, thereby supplying an 'all in one' wound dressing. This style of dressing was first introduced by the London Ambulance Service, and is still known today as an ‘Ambulance Dressing’.



Sydney's son Ray, commited his entire life to the business which his father had begun. From the 1950's right through to his death in 2009 he introduced ideas and sound investment principles that helped the company to become the recognised name that it is today. His initiatives included the development and training of in-house screen printing techniques which still happens on-site to this day. He also commissioned the plastic injection moulds that produced his own ‘Eurocase’ range of first aid boxes, which remain in strong demand.


The company is now part of Aero Healthcare based in Horsham, West Sussex, England. Regulated by the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and serving not only many niche markets in  the UK, but also Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The company has been in existence for over 100 years and continues as part of Aero Healthcare.