Modern day practitioners are spoilt for options when it comes to instrumentation, practice gadgets and IT systems. For practitioners past, the approach was somewhat more basic. John Dixon Salt describes the challenges and resourcefulness of early 20th century practitioners

Figure 1: Self-test kits from CO Optical and Advance Optical Co

It takes a certain type of person to set out on their own and start up a completely new practice – with premises to find, staff to hire and administrate, a host of regulations to understand and adhere to, it not surprising the franchise route is increasingly popular, but it has not always been available.

In the early 20th century it was common, and not restricted by any regulations, to work from several locations on an ad hoc basis to build up patient numbers especially useful when working in very rural areas. When Mary Jane Howells qualified as a Fellow of the Spectaclemakers’ Company in May 1914 she immediately set up a practice in one of the rooms within her own home.

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