Tamworth opticians’ 70-year milestone has specs-appeal

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A Tamworth opticians’ practice is heading back to the 1940s as it celebrates a major milestone that coincides with the birth of the NHS.

Jenks Opticians in George Street is celebrating its 70th birthday by opening its doors to past and present customers – as well as displaying fondly-remembered NHS glasses from days gone by.

Staff have also uncovered various fascinating items of other optical equipment to put on show, including early contact lenses, diagnostic tools, testing kits and the beginnings of marketing material that was previously banned.

Jenks Opticians is named after the original Optician of Potts and Partners, Stanley Jenks. His daughter Jenny Hulse followed in his footsteps until her retirement in 2004.It was then acquired by Jan and Helen Stoumann in partnership with Colin Lee Opticians

Jan Stoumann said: “One of the earliest tasks of Jenks Opticians was providing free eyes tests and spectacles, both for children and grown-ups thanks to the newly-introduced NHS.

“Demand was very high and later on, NHS glasses were mass-produced.Demand was much greater than expected which led to long waits for appointments and shortage of frames and lenses – patients had to wait up to six months for an eye test and as much as a year to get their glasses!”

“In 1948, the NHS offered a range of just ten free frames and these were available in either nickel, gold-filled or cellulose acetate – a kind of plastic. It wasn’t until 1983 that a new design, known as the 924 ladies frame was introduced,” he added.

Jenny said she was delighted to have seen the practice go from strength to strength since her retirement, with many patients or their families remaining loyal to Jenks.

Jan added: “We are thrilled to have continued Mr Jenks’ and Mrs Hulse’s legacy as well as innovating to ensure we can consistently offer the best service. These days our team has also welcomed qualified dispensing opticians, contact lens opticians, a hearing aid audiologist, optometrists, contact lens opticians and experts in diabetic eye care.

All our optometrists are qualified to provide the very latest NHS service called MECS which stands for ‘Minor Eye Conditions’ – a free service where we can investigate and treat an eye problem separate from an eye test.

“It’s really important to us to have carried on as an independent optician so we can genuinely find the best care and solutions for people who rely on us rather than being tied to one supplier.

“We’re opening our doors this month to anyone who has had a connection with Jenks over the years – and look forward to marking this important birthday in vintage style.”

Issued by Linda Aitchison (07867 420803) by Linda Aitchison at The PR Woman on behalf of Jenks Opticians. For more information, please contact Jan on 01827 62792

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