Category Archives: Drink

Perry good: Babycham

Babycham was a highly successful pear cider drink that was established in Britain from the early 1950s.

Background
The Showering family had a long association with the inn-keeping and brewing trade in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, dating back to the 18th century.

Albert Edward Showering (1874 – 1946), a small-scale brewer, owned three public houses in Shepton Mallet by 1928. He had four sons, and two of them, Herbert (1906 – 1974) and Francis (1912 – 1995) were to prove instrumental in the subsequent growth of the family business.

Arthur Edward Showering (1899 – 1979) took over the license of the Ship Inn on Kilver Street, Shepton Mallet, which was owned by his father Albert, in 1921. The rear of the Ship Inn housed a small brewery.

Showerings was incorporated as a private company in 1932, with Herbert Showering as chairman. Cider production was established by this time. Albert Edward Showering retired in 1934.

Francis Showering, a trained chemist, was manager of the Showerings cider mill by 1939. He was a stocky, hard-working, no-nonsense West Countryman. Francis Showering was managing director of Showerings by 1949.

Throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, Showerings won numerous awards for the quality of its bottled ciders.

Babycham introduction
After years of research and development, Francis Showering developed a new sterile filtration process that improved the shelf quality of perry (pear cider). The product was clear and sparkling, and reminiscent of champagne.

The sale of perry in Britain at the time was very small. The Showering brothers introduced the new product to the Bristol area and assessed its potential. Francis Showering determined to market the product towards women, and the Babycham trademark was registered in 1950. The product was packaged in 4 liquid ounce (118ml) “baby bottles”.

In order to prioritise the production of Babycham, brewing ceased from 1952, and apple cider production ended in early 1953. Babycham was launched nationwide from 1953 and demand immediately exceeded all expectations.

Herbert Showering was responsible for marketing the product, and advertising commenced from September 1953. Advertising was to heavily emphasise its similarity to champagne. Sales quickly boomed. Advertising agency Masius Wynne-Williams created the Chinese water deer mascot for the brand.

The Babycham deer outside the cider mill at Shepton Mallet (2008)

A significant factor behind the success of Babycham was that it appealed to the relatively untapped female market. At the same time, bottled beers and ciders were becoming increasingly popular over draught drinks due to their more consistent quality. Furthermore, the brewers who owned much of the licensed premises in Britain readily introduced Babycham to their public houses, as it was not in direct competition with beer.

Showerings was unable to meet demand for Babycham in the pre-Christmas period of 1954. Rather than compromise on product quality, which could have increased supply, strict rationing of Babycham was introduced.

Babycham became the first alcoholic product to be advertised on British television in 1955. Around £300,000 was spent on advertising  between 1953 and 1956.

The success of Babycham turned the Showerings brothers into millionaires.

Acquisition trail
Showerings acquired R N Coate & Co of Nailsea, Somerset, one of the four largest cider manufacturers in Britain, in 1956.

Showerings was converted into a public company in 1959. Over 1,000 people were employed. By this time Showerings bought much of Britain’s perry pear crop, as well as importing the fruit from Europe.

Annual sales of Babycham had reached £8 million by 1961, aided by heavy marketing expenditure.

Showerings was keen to reduce its dependence on the Babycham brand. William Gaymer & Son of Norfolk was acquired for £150,000 in 1961. Gaymer claimed to be the oldest cider producer in Britain, and was one of the largest, best known for the Olde English brand. However it had struggled against the greater resources of its major rival, H P Bulmer. The deal transformed Showerings into the second largest cider manufacturer in the world.

Allied Brewies and recent era
Showerings merged with Allied Breweries in 1968. Francis Showering was appointed chief executive of the wine and spirits division.

2.5 million bottles of Babycham were produced every week by 1969, consuming the majority of British pear production.

Keith Showering (1930 – 1982), son of Herbert, became chairman of Allied Breweries from 1975. By this time Allied was the largest drinks business in Europe.

90 percent of licensed premises in Britain sold Babycham by 1977.

Babycham was made with 25 percent apple cider by 1979.

The Allied Breweries cider business was demerged in 1992 as part of a management buyout named the Gaymer Group.

Annual sales of Babycham had fallen to around one million bottles by 1993, and the deer mascot was retired.

Strong currants: H W Carter & Co

H W Carter & Co introduced Ribena to Britain. 90 percent of British blackcurrant production goes towards making Ribena.

A carton of Ribena in 2007

Henry Williams Carter (1839 – 1913), a chemist, partnered with J R Grace to acquire the Bristol Soda Water Works from George Withy & Co in 1872. Located at the Old Refinery on Wilder Street, the business traded as H W Carter & Co.

Ernest Matravers Wright (1851 – 1949) had joined the firm by 1891, and the business traded as Carter, Wright & Co.

Wright left the firm to enter into business for himself in 1898, and Henry Williams Carter took sole control, with the name changing to H W Carter & Co.

Poor health forced Henry Williams Carter to retire in 1904.

A Ribena cordial bottle from the 1970s or 1980s

The company was best known for Carter’s Concentrated Lemon Syrup by 1909, a product for which it held the largest market share. The cordial was exported across the world, and was known as the best product of its kind. Other products included lemon squash, lime juice cordial, table jellies and custard powder.

Henry Williams Carter died with an estate valued at £12,000 in 1913.

By 1920 the company was also engaged as wine and spirits merchants. By this time William Dillworth Armstrong (1876 – 1954), long engaged as a salesman for the company, was managing director, and his son, Frank Dillworth Armstrong (1900 – 1993) was chairman. As a trained chartered accountant, Frank organised the finances at the company.

H W Carter & Co merged with four other local businesses to form Bristol Industries Limited, with a share capital of £250,000, in 1920.

Frank Armstrong was retained as chairman of Bristol Industries, but baulked when he was requested to sack his own father. He responded by negotiating a bank loan, and buying back control of H W Carter & Co with a capital of £30,000 in 1924.

H W Carter & Co went public in the mid 1930s.

British dairy farmers in the 1930s were producing a surplus of milk, and prices were consequently low. H W Carter decided to research fruit-flavoured syrups that could be added to milk to form milkshake. As a by-product of this research, Ribena was developed.

A new factory to produce cordials from British fruit was opened at North Street, Bedminster, Bristol in 1936. Ribena blackcurrant cordial was introduced that year.

Blackcurrants

During the Second World War imported sources of Vitamin C such as oranges had become scarce due to the German U-Boat campaign. Ribena, made from homegrown blackcurrants, was advertised as a good source of Vitamin C for children, and the government distributed it for free to babies, young children and expectant mothers.

Ribena production was relocated to a new factory at Coleford, Gloucestershire, in 1947. Sales of Ribena continued to grow strongly during the post-war period. Around 800 people were employed at the Coleford factory during the summer of 1955.

The Coleford, Gloucestershire factory in 2013

H W Carter & Co was acquired by the Beecham Group in 1955, beating a rival bid from Reckitt & Colman, which owned the rival Robinson’s Barley Water brand.

Beecham merged with SmithKline Beckman in 1989 to form SmithKline Beecham. It merged with GlaxoWellcome to form GlaxoSmithKline in 2000.

GlaxoSmithKline divested its British soft drinks business, which included Lucozade and Ribena, to Suntory of Japan for £1.35 billion in 2013.

90 percent of British-grown blackcurrants go towards Ribena production as of 2018, and each 500ml bottle contains around 37 blackcurrants.

Rows of blackcurrants

The blackcurrant varieties grown were specially designed for Ribena and have a high juice content. The factory is supplied by 40 farms. The blackcurrants are harvested in July and August. They are pressed at the Thatcher’s cider mill in Somerset.

Dr Tibbles’ Vi-Cocoa

As an energy-restorative, Dr Tibbles’ Vi-Cocoa was the Lucozade of its era. It was one of the highest-selling cocoa-based drinks in Britain.

William Tibbles (1834 – 1912) was born into impoverished circumstances in Leicester, the English Midlands. The family lived in the workhouse during the 1851 Census.

Tibbles was a frame work knitter and medical practitioner in the 1861 census. No evidence has been uncovered that suggest that Tibbles ever underwent any medical training.

Tibbles claimed that botanicals had cured him of consumption in 1867. He began to sell coca and its concentrated extract, cocaine, as a general cure for debility and consumption, from 1871. He was advertising Tibbles Concentrated Essence of Composition and Cocaine by 1876.

Later, Tibbles invented Vi-Cocoa, a mixture of malt, hops, kola and cocoa. He licensed the recipe and naming rights to Dr Tibbles’ Vi-Cocoa Ltd, a company formed to exploit his product. Advertisements for Vi-Cocoa first appear from 1893.

The company was renamed as Dr Tibbles’ Vi-Cocoa (1898) Ltd from 1898 with a capital of £400,000. Tibbles retired soon afterwards. The company was probably overvalued, with high sales heavily dependent on unsustainable levels of advertising.

The concern was renamed the Watford Manufacturing Company in 1907. Over 1,000 people were employed by 1914.

The company did not pay a dividend between 1908 and 1918. Nominal capital was increased from £250,000 to £1 million in 1918, with Lord Leverhulme (1851 – 1925) becoming the largest single shareholder. Leverhulme was increasingly concerned with food manufacturers at this time, and the paternalistic reputation of the Watford Manufacturing Company was in sync with his own views.

Construction of a large new factory begun in 1918-19, but was never completed due to liquidity issues. The company had benefited from healthy sales during the First World War, aided by military contracts. However the wartime boom was followed by a post-war economic slump.

In 1919-20 company capital was increased to £3 million.

The Watford Manufacturing Company entered into liquidation in 1922. Lord Leverhulme purchased the company assets for £543,000 in cash to ensure that all creditors were paid, as well as in all likelihood, to protect his own reputation.

The Financial Times commented after the liquidation that the downfall of the company was as a result of an excessive valuation of the company.

Leverhulme almost immediately sold the site and brands to Planters Products Ltd, who continued to produce Vi-Cocoa. The product continued to be advertised as late as 1945.

Message in a bottle: Newcastle Brown Ale

This is the story of how Newcastle Brown Ale became the highest selling bottled beer in Britain, and came to make significant sales in the United States.

John Barras & Co

Established on Bath Lane, Newcastle in 1867 by Bells, Robson & Co, the Tyne Brewery was said to be the largest in the North of England. However the business entered into financial difficulty, and in 1884 it was acquired by John Barras & Co of Gateshead, after their own brewery site was purchased by the North Eastern Railway.

John Barras & Co was operated by Charles John Reed (1820 – 1908), who had leased the brewery since 1861, after marrying into the founding Barras family.

A masterstroke of Reed was to appoint Thomas Watson Lovibond (1849 – 1918) as head brewer and manager from 1887. Lovibond was scientifically trained at a time when almost all brewers lacked such formal education, and he was to have a significant impact upon the future success of the business.

Traditionally brewing mild ale, John Barras & Co was brewing pale ale by 1889, in order to compete with rival products from Burton upon Trent and Edinburgh. Lovibond also introduced greater standardisation of product quality.

Newcastle Breweries

John Barras & Co merged with four local brewers in 1890: W H Allison of North Shields, J J & W H Allison of Sunderland, Swinburne of Gateshead and Carr Brothers & Carr of North Shields to form Newcastle Breweries.

The Tyne Brewery was regarded as one of the largest and best equipped breweries in the North of England, and all production was centralised there. As a result, the output of the brewery was doubled from 900 to 1,800 barrels a week.

The amalgamation was to prove highly successful. Forster’s Bishop Middleham Breweries was acquired in 1910.

The Colonel Porter era

James Herbert Porter (1891 – 1973) was the son of a master brewer in Burton upon Trent. He joined Newcastle Breweries as a trainee brewer in 1909. The model of an English gentleman, Porter was a highly courteous and mild-mannered man.

Porter fought during the First World War, and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

Newcastle Exhibition, a cask beer, was introduced from 1920.

After the war, sales of bottled beers began to increase, influenced by the inconsistent quality of cask beer. Colonel Porter determined to develop a high quality bottled beer of his own.

Newcastle Breweries opened one of the largest and best-equipped bottling plants in Britain in June 1925.

Colonel Porter, by now promoted to assistant brewer, and Archdale Mercer Jones (1881 – 1954), manager of the bottling works, laboured for three years to perfect the recipe for Newcastle Brown Ale. Porter created its distinctive taste by blending a strong aged beer with a light pale ale.

Newcastle Brown Ale was launched in April 1927. The sole ingredients were malt, hops, sugar and yeast and it boasted an ABV of 6.25 percent. Originally it was filtered but was not subject to pasteurisation.

Newcastle Brown Ale enjoyed immediate success. It was a quality product brewed to vigorous scientific methods and high standards, and sold at a reasonable price. Perhaps as a result, Colonel Porter had been promoted to head brewer by September 1927. Newcastle Brown Ale was named as the best bottled beer in Britain at the 1928 Brewers Exhibition in London.

The blue star logo was introduced in 1928. Each point on the star represented one of the five businesses that combined to form Newcastle Breweries.

Newcastle Brown Ale ABV had been reduced to around 5.5 percent by 1931.

Colonel Porter was promoted to the Newcastle Breweries board of directors in 1931.

During the Second World War Newcastle Breweries encountered material shortages, and as a result brewed lower strength beers out of necessity. However the company refused to compromise the quality of Newcastle Brown Ale, which went unchanged, although by necessity production represented just a small fraction of demand.

Although sales remained confined to the North East of England, 300 million bottles had been produced by 1952.

Colonel Porter was appointed chairman of Newcastle Breweries in 1955.

The Tyne Brewery occupied 6.5 acres by 1956. Production of Newcastle Brown Ale had continued to grow and the brewer’s bottling facility had reached capacity. A new bottling plant entered production from 1959.

John Rowell & Son of Gateshead was acquired in 1959 to bring the total number of Newcastle Breweries controlled premises to around 700.

Scottish & Newcastle

Newcastle Breweries merged with Scottish Brewers to form Scottish & Newcastle in 1960. Colonel Porter was appointed vice chairman. Newcastle Brown Ale was a leading product of the new company, alongside McEwan’s Export and Younger’s Tartan Special. The merger afforded Newcastle Brown Ale a wider network for distribution.

In the early 1960s Scottish & Newcastle began to produce Newcastle Brown Ale in brown bottles instead of clear ones. This was to protect the beer from UV rays, which can have a negative impact on taste. However drinkers complained about the change, and the decision was swiftly reversed.

Distribution of Newcastle Brown Ale throughout the Midlands and the South of England had begun by the late 1960s. The Tyne Brewery was producing over one million barrels of beer a year by 1972, however increased national sales of Newcastle Brown Ale saw the facility struggle to meet demand.

Domestic sales of Newcastle Brown Ale peaked in 1974, after which sales of bottled beers began to enter into a steady decline. The appeal of bottled beer had been its consistency, but with the increasing quality and distribution of keg beer, its unique selling point was lost.

By 1977 a total of 7.5 million barrels of Newcastle Brown Ale had been produced since it was introduced in 1927.

Newcastle Brown Ale was the highest selling packaged ale in Britain by 1980. It was sold in over 97 percent of off licences in England and Wales and more than 90 percent of supermarkets and grocers.

It is believed that Newcastle Brown Ale ceased to be a blended beer from the early 1980s onwards.

A new £3 million bottling plant was opened in 1984. The Tyne Brewery had grown to cover 14 acres by 1985. 1,200 people were employed there in 1988.

Scottish & Newcastle was the fifth largest brewer in Britain by 1988.

Newcastle Exhibition was the highest selling draught ale in the North East of England by 1989.

Newcastle Brown Ale underwent a resurgence in the late 1980s and early 1990s with increased distribution in the South of England, as well as a strong presence in student union bars. Marketing efforts dissociated the drink from its working class roots in an attempt to position it as a premium product.

Scottish & Newcastle took direct control of its United States product distribution from 1990 onwards. With American headquarters in San Francisco, by the mid-1990s the brand had gained significant traction in the United States.

Newcastle Brown Ale was a pasteurised beer by 1994. The pasteurisation process increases the shelf life of the product, but critics contend that it reduces the delicate aromas of beer.

The brewery borehole water source lacked sufficient purity by 1995, and purified water from reservoirs was instead used, to which Scottish & Newcastle added gypsum and epsom before brewing.

Scottish & Newcastle acquired Courage in 1995 to become the largest brewer in Britain.

230,000 hectolitres (140,000 UK barrels) of Newcastle Brown Ale were exported to the United States in 1998. The majority of Newcastle Brown Ale production was shipped to the United States by 2001.

The Tyne Brewery was closed in May 2005. Production of Newcastle Brown Ale was relocated to the Federation Brewery in nearby Dunston, Gateshead.

Newcastle Brown Ale was among the top fifty highest-selling beers in the United States by 2006.

Bottling of Newcastle Brown Ale was relocated to the John Smith’s Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, from 2007.

Scottish & Newcastle was acquired by Heineken, a Dutch brewer, in 2008.

Heineken closed the Federation Brewery in May 2010, and Newcastle Brown Ale production was relocated to the John Smith’s Brewery.

Caramel colouring, apparently used to darken and flavour Newcastle Brown Ale since its inception, was replaced with roasted malt from 2015, amid US health concerns.

Production of Newcastle Brown Ale for export was relocated to the Zouterwoude Brewery in the Netherlands from 2017.

Newcastle Brown Ale will be brewed by Heineken in the United States from 2018. The packaging lists its ingredients as malted barley, roasted malt and Centennial and Chinook hops.

The highs and l’eaus of Perrier

Perrier is the best known sparkling mineral water in the world. The iconic French product was introduced to the global market by an Englishman, St John Harmsworth.

William Albert St John Harmsworth (1876 – 1933) was the son of an unsuccessful alcoholic London barrister and a strong-willed mother.

Slight and nervous as a boy, Harmsworth attended Henley House School at St John’s Wood, London. There he was a pupil of H G Wells (1866 – 1946), later the author of The Time Machine (1895) and The War of the Worlds (1898). Harmsworth was not the most academically-minded of pupils according to Wells, but he did grow to be charming, likeable, athletic and handsome.

William Albert St John Harmsworth c.1900

Harmsworth followed his education with work as a director at Amalgamated Press, a newspaper empire created by his elder brother Alfred (1865 – 1922), which included the Daily Mail, the highest-selling newspaper in the world.

His brother suggested that Harmsworth travel to France in order to learn the language in 1902. Harmsworth visited a carbonated spring at Les Bouillens, Vergeze, in the South of France, where Dr Louis Eugene Perrier operated a commercial spa. Perrier also bottled a small amount of the water for his guests and some local sales.

Harmsworth believed in the potential for the bottled water, which was lighter, crisper and had a lower sodium content than most waters sold on the British market at the time. To the horror of his family he sold his shares in Amalgamated Press in order to acquire the Les Bouillens estate in early 1903.

Harmsworth closed down the spa, which catered to a declining market, and began to distribute the bottled water, which he branded as Perrier. It was sold at Monte Carlo and throughout the South of France during the 1903 season.

Following this successful trial, a London office was established at 45 and 46 New Bond Street by July 1904. The water targeted the premium segment of the market, and was sold at the Savoy, Claridge’s and the Berkeley hotels, as well as classic City of London pubs and restaurants such as Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and Slaters.

Perrier was advertised as an ideal mixer for whisky. Sir Thomas Lipton (1846 – 1931), a friend of Harmsworth, introduced the water to King Edward VII, who granted it a Royal Warrant in 1904.

The market for imported European sparkling water in Britain had been well-established by Apollinaris of Germany since the 1870s. Harmsworth packaged his water in a distinctive bulbous green bottle, inspired by an Indian club used for exercises.

This image illustrates the distinctive “club-shaped” Perrier bottle

French culture was considered aspirational, and the water may have benefited from an assumed link with the champagne houses of Perrier-Jouët and Laurent-Perrier, to which it had no affiliation. Perhaps to encourage the association, the water was originally marketed with “the champagne of table waters” slogan.

The London office was relocated to 45 and 47 Wigmore Street in November 1905.

Harmsworth broke his spine in a tragic motor accident in 1906. Paralysed from the waist down, he channelled his energies into developing the mineral water business.

A keen sportsman, Harmsworth was able to maintain his interest in swimming, and had a pool installed at his London address of 7 Hyde Park Terrace.

United States sales were pursued from 1907.

Perrier was registered as a private limited company to acquire the share capital of La Compagnie de la Source Perrier in 1908.

A glassworks was established in Vergeze in 1912.

Perrier was granted a Royal Warrant from King George V in 1911. Millions of bottles were sold every year by 1912.

Perrier was a well-established rival to Apollinaris by 1914. Perrier was able to gain market share from Apollinaris during the First World War by using advertisements to highlight the German origins of its competitor.

During the First World War, much of production was distributed to the Allied armies in France, Salonika and Egypt.

Harmsworth negotiated a contract to be the exclusive supplier of bottled water to the restaurant cars of Wagons-Lits in France and Germany in 1927.

The London office had been relocated to Bear Wharf, 27 Bankside by 1931.

By 1933 Harmsworth had a small stake in the French company, the Compagnie de la Source Perrier, and a large holding in the English company Perrier Limited, which held the British distribution rights.

Harmsworth died in 1933 and left an estate valued at £82,976. His estate was left to his brother Vyvyan George Harmsworth (1881 – 1957) and his three sisters.

Perrier Ltd had an authorised capital of £110,000 in 1935. The directors were Vyvyan Harmsworth, M Harmsworth and H Banks, who had been secretary to St John Harmsworth.

Perrier had never been hugely profitable, and the rest of the family lacked the faith in the brand that Harmsworth had. The family had granted the Britain and Ireland distribution rights for Perrier to Apollinaris by May 1939.

The Germans invaded France in 1940, and company capital was transferred to the United States to disguise the British origins of the firm. The Second World War isolated Perrier from its traditional markets of the British Empire, the USA and the French colonies. Sales to the German army represented 40 percent of turnover between 1941 and 1944.

After the liberation of France, the Harmsworth family looked to sell the business, which was loss-making and required substantial investment. Gustave Leven (1915 – 2008) was working at his family stockbroking firm in Paris when his father asked him to find a buyer for Perrier in 1946. He visited the bottling plant, which was in need of reorganisation. He witnessed workers fill bottles by plunging them into the spring by hand, and sometimes using their feet to help put the bottle caps on.

Leven identified a strong brand that had considerable scope for improvement, and with four partners acquired the company for £100,000. Ten million bottles were sold in 1946.

Annual sales had risen to 150 million bottles by 1952. By introducing mass advertising to a staid industry, Perrier was able to gain considerable market share in France. Perrier was the highest-selling mineral water in France by 1962, with a 25 percent market share.

Leven installed a glass bottle manufacturing plant at Vergeze in 1973. Perrier held half of the French bottled water market by the mid 1970s.

Perrier was distributed in Britain by Schweppes and Grand Metropolitan by the early 1970s. The British market was limited to a few high-end establishments, as its distributors did not believe that there was a significant demand for bottled water. Perrier entered into British supermarket distribution for itself from 1974. Six million bottles were sold in Britain in 1978.

To further increase sales, Leven turned to the underdeveloped United States market. Three million bottles were sold there in 1976; this had risen to 200 million by 1979. In Britain and the United States, Perrier tapped into a growing aspirational culture, and an increasing health and fitness movement.

Rising sales in the United States saw a second factory opened at Vergeze in 1978. The new factory had an annual production capacity of nearly 400 million bottles, adding to the existing factory’s capacity of 350 million bottles.

The Vergeze site employed 2,500 people by 1983 and Perrier was sold in 119 countries. 25 percent of sales were in the United States by 1984.

Perrier held 60 percent of the British bottled water market by 1988. Nearly 100 million bottles a year were sold in the UK by 1990.

The brand peaked in 1989, when 1.2 billion bottles were sold, with half exported to the United States.

In March 1990 it was reported that Perrier contained a minimal amount of a carcinogen, because a filter meant to catch naturally occurring benzene from the spring had not been changed. 160 million bottles had to be recalled from 120 countries, for which the company was not insured.

A cancer specialist stated that an individual would have to consume a quart of Perrier every day for an entire lifetime to consume a harmful amount of benzene, but Leven decided that a total product recall was essential to preserve the reputation of the brand. Despite the expedient and responsible reaction of Leven, production levels dropped by one third in the wake of the scandal. A few months later, Leven stepped down as company chairman.

Nestle acquired Perrier in 1992, in a deal which valued the company at £1.4 billion (US$2.7 billion). Nestle believed it could turn around the struggling company.

Perrier acquired San Pellegrino, its Italian rival, in 1997.

Nestle struggled against a powerful union at the Perrier plant. With rising sales, Leven had acquiesced to union requests throughout the 1980s. Faced with stagnant sales, Nestle found that it was unable to continue to accommodate union demands. Nestle failed to make a profit from Perrier between 1992 and 2004.

Production levels crossed the one billion bottle threshold again in 2013. According to data from Euromonitor, Perrier held six percent of the global carbonated bottled water market by value in 2016, and its share is growing.

Nestle installed a new production line at the Perrier plant in 2017. It plans to add three more lines by 2020, bringing the total to 15.

Comfort for the table: Epps Cocoa

Epps was the leading brand of cocoa in Victorian Britain.

James Epps (1821 – 1907) was the son of a Calvinist London merchant.

His brother, Dr John Epps (1805 – 1869), was one of the pioneers of homeopathy in Britain. He established premises at Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, and was joined by his brother James from 1837.

Epps’ cocoa was first sold from 1839 for the use of patients for whom tea and coffee were restricted. It was an instant cocoa powder, made by adding hot water or milk.

The almost prohibitive duty on cocoa was greatly reduced in 1832, allowing the market to grow exponentially. Easily prepared cocoa had been difficult to procure, and the fat in the raw material was unpalatable for many. Dr John Epps discovered a way to make it more appetising, mixing the cocoa with 20 percent West Indies arrowroot and 13 percent sugar.

Dr John Epps was not the first person to invent soluble cocoa powder, but James Epps was largely responsible for presenting the product to the mass market.

He heavily advertised Epps’ Cocoa, and by 1855 had coined a distinctive slogan, “grateful and comforting”.

Epps’ Cocoa was initially produced under contract by Daniel Dunn of Pentonville Road, who had invented instant cocoa powder in 1819.

Epps had established his own factory at 398 Euston Road, London by 1863. He installed his nephew, Hahnemann Epps (1843 – 1916), as manager.

A new steam-powered works was established at Holland Street, Blackfriars in 1878. Epps was the largest cocoa powder producer in Britain, with an output of nearly five million pounds a year. At its peak the firm processed half of all cocoa imports into Britain.

Steam Cocoa Mills, Holland Street, London
Steam Cocoa Mills, Holland Street, London

A short and slight man, James Epps kept a low public profile, unlike his gregarious brother John. He was known only for his work in business, and had few outside interests. He allowed his portrait to be taken only once, and not once did he grant an interview or issue a public statement. He was a hard worker, keen on a bargain, and somewhat controlling. Despite his massive wealth he lived in an unfashionable area of London.

The business was converted into a private joint stock limited company in 1893 known as James Epps & Co. The directors were James Epps, Hahnemann Epps and James Epps Jr (1856 – 1905), and the company had a capital of £200,000. The company remained under family control, and no shares were offered to the public.

Epps’ Cocoa had been overtaken in sales by Dr Tibbles’ Vi-Cocoa and Rowntree by 1898.

James Epps Jr (also known as Willie James Epps), the only son of James Epps, died of a heart attack in Jamaica in 1905. His gross estate was valued at £162,422.

James Epps died in 1907 and his gross estate was valued at £735,387. This was a larger estate than contemporaries in the food industry such as Jeremiah James Colman (1830 – 1898), Alfred Bird (1849 – 1922) or James Horlick (1844 – 1921).

The estate was inherited by his nieces and nephews, principally James Washington Epps (1874 -1955). Hahnemann Epps became chairman and James W Epps became managing director of James Epps & Co.

Taylor Brothers Ltd, a London cocoa manufacturer, was acquired in 1907.

Epps’ Cocoa powder had been reformulated to include 44 percent sugar, 40 percent cocoa and 16 percent West Indies arrowroot by 1924.

James Epps & Co was acquired by Rowntree of York in 1926 for £70,000. The Epps factory was closed in 1930, and the manufacture of Epps products was transferred to Whitefields Ltd of Plaistow.

Zest for business: L Rose & Co

L Rose & Co is best known for its lime juice cordial.

Lauchlan Rose (1829 -1885), was born to a family of shipbuilders at Leith, a Scottish port near Edinburgh. After school, Rose became a merchant, importing products such as grain and wine.

Rose developed and patented a process that allowed fruit juice to be preserved without alcohol. Sulphur dioxide prevented the fermentation process from taking place.

The Merchant Shipping Act of 1867 made it compulsory for British ships to carry lime juice. Advertisements for L Rose & Co’s lime juice and lime cordial began to appear from 1868. Rose’s lime juice appealed not just to sailors as a ward against scurvy, but the growing temperance movement in the domestic market.

The head office was relocated from Leith to London in 1875.

The Bath and Elmshall estates in Dominica were purchased from William Davies in 1891, to provide a source of limes. An old sugar factory was converted for processing; crushing the limes and transferring the juice into barrels for export.

L Rose & Co was incorporated as a limited company in 1898. Factories were operated at 11 Curtain Road, London and 41 Mitchell Street, Leith.

The company had a capital of £150,000. John Barclay Rose (born 1862) was chairman. J B Rose, Charles Morrison Rose (born 1863) and Hugh Gilmour Rose were joint managing directors.

L Rose began to manufacture calcium citrate from 1906.

The Dominica estates covered hundreds of acres by 1909, and the firm was also supplied by independent growers of hundreds of acres.

A factory was erected at the Bath estate for the production of citric acid crystals in 1921.

Lauchlan Rose (born 1895) took over the management of the company from 1924.

A lime estate was established at Asebu, Cape Coast (now Ghana) from 1924.

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Lime marmalade production began from the 1930s.

L Rose & Co dismissed 120 staff in 1939 because they held trade union membership. Lauchlan Rose announced that only non-union labour would be hired.

The London premises were destroyed in the Blitz in 1940. Production was relocated to a new site on Grosvenor Road, St Albans.

Additional factories were opened at Boxmoor Wharf, Hemel Hempstead and Liverpool in 1948.

The lime juice was left to settle in 12,000 gallon oak vats at Boxmoor. The pulp and oils rose to the top, and the lime juice was drawn off from the bottom. After filtration and sweetening, the liquid was transported to St Albans for bottling.

L Rose & Co was acquired by J Schweppe in an exchange of shares in 1957.

L Rose & Co discontinued operations in Dominica in 1980, in favour of operations in Cameroon and Ghana.

The Hemel Hempstead factory was closed in 1983 due to high rent, and all production was relocated to St Albans.

 

Scotched earth: Hiram Walker & Sons of Scotland

Hiram Walker was a large Canadian whisky distiller. This article traces the history of its British subsidiary, which became the second largest Scotch whisky producer.

The Canadian businessman Harry Clifford Hatch (1884 – 1946) acquired Hiram Walker & Sons of Ontario in 1926. He merged it with Gooderham & Worts of Toronto to form Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts Ltd, one of the largest whisky distillers in the world.

Hiram Walker acquired a 60 percent stake in James & George Stodart Ltd of Glasgow in 1930. The purchase included the Stirling Bonding Company (with the Old Smuggler brand) and George Ballantine & Son Ltd.

The Glenburgie and Miltonduff-Glenlivet malt whisky distilleries were acquired in 1936.

Hiram Walker & Sons (Scotland) Ltd was registered in 1937 with a capital of £1 million. It was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts Ltd. Capital was increased to £1.5 million the following year.

Due to a growing export trade, Hiram Walker encountered difficulties procuring sufficient grain whisky for blending purposes. As a result, the company opened the largest distillery in Europe at Dumbarton in 1938. The £450,000 investment on a nine acre site produced three million imperial gallons of whisky each year, mostly grain whisky.

Harry C Hatch hoped that increased Canadian investment in Britain would help to strengthen the British Empire.

Thomas Scott was general manager and a director of Hiram Walker & Sons (Scotland) Ltd by 1949. He introduced a resident flock of geese to act as security guards at the Dumbarton distillery from 1950.

Workers at the Dumbarton distillery in the 1950s

Bloch Brothers (Distillers) Ltd of Glasgow was acquired in 1954. The acquisition included two distilleries (Scapa, Orkney and Glen Scotia, Campbeltown) and very large reserves of whisky, including some of the oldest in Britain. At that point it was the second largest acquisition in the Scotch whisky industry since the end of the Second World War. Bloch sales were strongest in North and South America.

Hiram Walker & Sons was the second largest producer of Scotch whisky by 1957.

Ballantine’s was a favourite Scotch whisky of John F Kennedy, and during his presidency it was the highest selling Scotch whisky in the United States.

1,100 people were employed at the Dumbarton plant in 1969.

Stephen McCann replaced Scott to become managing director of Hiram Walker of Scotland in 1969. In 1971 McCann became chairman and Alistair Cunningham (1926 – 2010) became managing director.

A new complex for Scotch whisky production was opened at Kilmalid, outside Dumbarton, in 1977. It was the most advanced whisky blending plant in Europe.

Hiram Walker attempted to buy Highland Distilleries in 1979. Highland Distilleries owned the Famous Grouse brand, which would have given the company a foothold in the British market. The Monopolies Commission ruled that the bid was against the public interest.

A new bottling plant was opened at Kilmalid in 1982. Soon, it was handling more than 100 million bottles a year.

Hiram Walker was the third largest Scotch whisky producer in the world by 1984, with nine malt distilleries and one large grain distillery. Ballantine was its large international brand, and although sales had slipped in the United States, it was the market leader in Continental Europe, with particularly strong sales in Italy.

During the 1980s Hiram Walker received criticism for selling bulk malt whisky to Japanese distillers, who used it as the basis for their own blends.

Hiram Walker was acquired by Allied Lyons, a British food and beverages company, in 1987.

Alistair Cunningham retired in 1992.

The Dumbarton distillery was closed in 2002, and demolished in 2008.

Pernod Ricard, a French distiller, acquired Allied Lyons, now known as Allied Domecq, in 2005. Some brands were divested to Fortune Brands and Diageo.

The geese were removed from Dumbarton in 2012.

As of 2014, Ballantine’s is the second highest-selling Scotch whisky in the world after Johnnie Walker.

Dunn & Hewett, inventor of instant cocoa

Daniel Dunn invented instant cocoa powder, and his products were widely imitated.

Daniel Dunn (1773 – 1862) was born in modest circumstances at Netherton, Dudley in Worcestershire, the son of a blacksmith. His father taught him honesty, and his mother instilled in him a keen work ethic.

Dunn had to earn a living from the age of ten. He joined the Swedenborgian Church in 1796, and remained a keen member throughout his life.

From early in life Dunn demonstrated a propensity for invention. He would eventually be granted eleven patents. One of his early discoveries was a method to improve the manufacture of horse nails. He established a horse nail factory in London, however the business failed following a recession in America.

Among Dunn’s London associates was John Isaac Hawkins (1772 – 1855), the inventor of the upright piano.

From around 1800, Dunn was to find success manufacturing instant coffee and instant tea from a factory at Bartlett’s Buildings, Holborn. Expanding trade saw him relocate to a larger factory at Pentonville from around 1810.

Dunn invented instant cocoa powder in 1820. His method was to add sugar and arrowroot to cocoa to create a soluble powder. Hot cocoa could be made in one minute by adding boiling water, whereas previously chocolate had needed boiling for an hour or more.

Charles Hewett (1819 – 1869), also from Dudley, was apprenticed to Dunn by 1841. He had joined Dunn in partnership by 1857, and the firm henceforth traded as Dunn & Hewett.

Iceland Moss Cocoa had been introduced by 1859. It was made from cocoa, moss, farina and sugar. The moss was held to have highly nutritious qualities. Competitors such as Rowntree and Fry would later introduce their own competing Iceland Moss Cocoa products.

Dunn employed 47 people in 1861, including 23 men, 14 girls and ten boys.

Dunn was a generous philanthropist throughout his life. He died in 1862, and his estate was valued at under £3,000 (equivalent to at least £260,000 today). His entire estate was inherited by his third wife, Mary Dunn (1810 – 1885).

Charles Hewett took over as senior partner of Dunn & Hewett, and continued the tradition of respect and equality with his workforce that Daniel Dunn had initiated.

60 to 70 workers were employed by 1864. The firm was considered a good employer. A workman would be presented with a sovereign coin upon the birth of a child. The firm organised an annual excursion or dinner for their workers. A company funded brass band was established in 1864.

Charles Hewett died in 1869, and management of the firm was taken over by Mary Dunn and two of Daniel’s adopted sons, Arthur Day (1843 – 1918) and John Holm (1840 – 1897), the latter a trained chemist.

Dunn & Hewett employed 65 people in 1871, including 36 men, four boys, 22 women and three girls.

Dunn & Hewett ranked among the largest cocoa manufacturers in Britain in 1876. The firm employed 70 workers in 1881.

Mary Dunn died in 1885.

Arthur Day and John Holm appear to have sold Dunn & Hewett to Henry Saunders Nunn (1848 – 1925), a manager at a rubber manufacturer, following the death of Mary Dunn.

Arthur Day continued to work in a marketing role for Dunn & Hewett, appearing as a representative for Dunn & Hewett at International Exhibitions.

Dunn & Hewett was one of the leading cocoa manufacturers in Britain as late as 1911.

A fire at the factory in 1916 caused an estimated £14,000 worth of damage, equivalent to at least £800,000 in 2016.

Henry Saunders Nunn died in 1925 and left an estate valued at £125,000. The firm was inherited by his son, Henry Thomas Nunn (1878 – 1927), but he died just two years later with a gross estate of £23,102.

Control of Dunn & Hewett passed to Oliver Cromwell Nunn (1879 – 1971), who retired around 1930, upon which the Pentonville factory was closed down.

Soda, so good: W A Ross of Belfast

W A Ross was one of the largest soft drinks manufacturers in Ireland.

William Adolphus Ross (1817 – 1900) was born in Dublin. He worked as managing director of the Belfast branch of Cantrell & Cochrane for nine years.

A dispute arose between Ross and his employer. Cantrell & Cochrane were found to be in breach of contract, so with a settlement of £3,250, Ross established his own soft drinks manufacturing business at William Street South, Belfast, in 1879. He was assisted by his son George A Ross, a former sailor.

By November 1879 W A Ross was producing nearly 30,000 bottles a day, chiefly for export markets such as the United States, the West Indies and Africa.

A depot had been established at Glasgow by 1881. The firm’s agent in New York imported 981,840 bottles in 1883.

W A Ross had become one of the largest soft drink manufacturers in Ireland by 1891. Ross’s Royal Ginger Ale was the firm’s principal product. That year the firm became a private limited company, W A Ross & Sons Ltd.

W A Ross & Sons employed 150 people in 1896. The company had depots at Glasgow and Liverpool by 1898.

William Adolphus Ross died in 1900 with an estate valued at £4,449.

The William Street factory was extended in 1902, and again in 1909.

William Adolphus Ross Jr (1843 – 1912) died in New York with an estate valued at £65,000.

By 1914 Brazil, Chile and Argentina were major export markets, but the United States remained the most important. However, the disruption caused by the First World War was to damage the export trade.

Independence for the Republic of Ireland damaged trade in that market due to the erection of tariffs.

W A Ross & Sons merged with Belfast rival Cochran’s of Ravenhill Avenue to form Ross Cochran in 1975. All production was centralised at Cochran’s.

Ross Cochran was acquired by Cantrell & Cochrane in 1986. After a few years the Ross brand was phased out.