This is the story of how a declining brand underwent an export-led revival, and its gradual dissociation from its namesake city.
The Tyne Brewery on Bath Lane, Newcastle. was the largest in the North of England by 1867. It was acquired by John Barras & Co in 1884.
John Barras merged with 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 in 1890.
The Tyne Brewery was one of the largest and best equipped in the North of England. Brewing was centralised there and production was expanded from 900 to 1,800 barrels a week.
Newcastle Breweries opened a new bottling plant to satisfy the increasing demand for bottled beers in June 1925. It was one of the largest and best-equipped bottling plants in Britain.
Assistant brewer Lieutenant-Colonel James Herbert Porter (1891 – 1973) and Archdale Mercer Jones (1881 – 1954), manager of the bottling works, laboured for three years to perfect the recipe for Newcastle Brown Ale.
Newcastle Brown Ale was launched in April 1927, produced by blending a strong aged stock ale with a light pale ale. The beer originally had an ABV of 6.25 percent, Originally it was filtered but was not subject to pasteurisation.
Newcastle Brown Ale was an instant success, and Colonel Porter had been promoted to head brewer by September 1927. The product was named as the best bottled beer in Britain at the Brewers Exhibition of 1928 in London.
The blue star label had been introduced by February 1929. Each point on the star represented one of the five breweries that combined to form Newcastle Breweries.
ABV had been reduced to around 5.5 percent by 1931.
300 million bottles had been produced by 1952, but sales remained confined to the North East of England.
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.
Newcastle Breweries merged with Scottish Brewers to form Scottish & Newcastle in 1960. Colonel Porter was appointed vice chairman of the new company. Newcastle Brown Ale was a leading product alongside McEwan’s Export and Younger’s Tartan Special. The merger afforded Newcastle Brown Ale a wider network for distribution.
Newcastle Brown Ale was approaching national distribution by 1973, and domestic sales peaked the following year.
The brand underwent a resurgence in the late 1980s and early 1990s when distribution through student unions afforded the brand cult status. Newcastle Brown Ale was the highest selling bottled beer in Britain by 1990.
Scottish & Newcastle acquired Courage in 1995 to become the largest brewer in Britain. Newcastle Brown Ale was the most widely available alcoholic product in Britain by 1997.
Scottish & Newcastle took direct control of distribution of its products in the United States from 1990. Based in San Francisco, by the mid-1990s the brand had gained significant traction in the United States.
230,000 hectolitres of Newcastle Brown Ale were shipped 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.
The Federation Brewery was closed in May 2010, and Newcastle Brown Ale production was relocated to the John Smith’s Brewery.
Caramel colouring was replaced with roasted malt from 2015.
Production of Newcastle Brown Ale was relocated to the Zouterwoude Brewery in the Netherlands from 2017.
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, St John Harmsworth attended Henley House School, St John’s Wood, London, where he was a pupil of H G Wells (1866 – 1946). According to Wells, Harmsworth was not the most academically-minded of pupils.
Harmsworth grew to become an athletic and handsome young man. He was charming and likeable.
Harmsworth worked as a director at Amalgamated Press, a newspaper empire created by his elder brother Lord Northcliffe (1865 – 1922), which included the Daily Mail, the highest selling newspaper in the world. Northcliffe 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 in the British market at the time.
To the horror of his family, St John Harmsworth sold his shares in Amalgamated Press in order to acquire the Les Bouillens estate in early 1903.
St John 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.
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.
Perrier was registered as a private limited company in 1908 to acquire the share capital of La Compagnie de la Source Perrier.
Perrier was granted a Royal Warrant from King George V in 1911. Millions of bottles were sold every year by 1912.
Perrier was as well known as Apollinaris, its long-established rival, 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 share 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 St John had. By May 1939 the family had granted the Britain and Ireland distribution rights for Perrier to its major rival, Apollinaris.
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. Between 1941 and 1944 sales to the German army represented 40 percent of turnover.
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 Perrier 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 saw a strong brand that had considerable scope for improvement, and acquired the company along with four partners for £100,000. Ten million bottles were sold in 1946.
By 1952 annual sales were 150 million bottles. 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.
By the mid 1970s, Perrier held half of the French bottle water market. Leven installed a glass bottle manufacturing plant at Vergeze in 1973.
By the early 1970s, Perrier was distributed in Britain by Schweppes and Grand Metropolitan. 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; by 1979 this had risen to 200 million.
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 a production capacity of nearly 400 million bottles, adding to the existing factory’s capacity of 350 million bottles.
By 1983 the Vergeze site employed 2,500 people and Perrier was sold in 119 countries.
25 percent of sales were in the United States by 1984. The brand peaked in 1989, when 1.2 billion bottles were sold, with half exported to the United States.
By 1988 Perrier had 60 percent of the British bottled water market. Nearly 100 million bottles a year were sold in the UK by 1990.
In March 1990 it was reported that Perrier contained a minimal amount of a carcinogen called benzene, 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 Leven’s speedy and responsible reaction, production levels dropped by one third in the wake of the scandal.
Nestle acquired Perrier in 1992, in a deal which valued the company at $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 demands throughout the 1980s. Faced with stagnant sales, Nestle found that it was unable to accommodate union demands. Between 1992 and 2004 it failed to make a profit from Perrier.
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.
In 2017 Nestle installed a new production line at the Perrier plant. It plans to add three more lines by 2020, bringing the total to 15.
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.
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 of a control freak. 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.
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 Bros Ltd, a London cocoa manufacturer, was acquired in 1907-8.
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.
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.
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.
Lime marmalade production began from the 1930s.
L Rose & Co dismissed 120 staff because they held trade union membership in 1939. 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.
Hiram Walker was a large Canadian whisky distiller. This article traces the history of its British subsidiary, a major distiller of Scotch whisky in its own right.
The Canadian businessman Harry Clifford Hatch (1884 – 1946) acquired Hiram Walker & Sons of Ontario in 1926 and 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. In 1950 he introduced a resident flock of geese to act as security guards at the Dumbarton distillery.
Workers at the Dumbarton distillery, taken 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.
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 copany, in 1987.
Alistair Cunningham retired in 1992.
The Dumbarton distillery was closed in 2002, and demolished in 2008.
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.
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, 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 around 1810.
Dunn invented soluble cocoa powder in 1819. His method was to add sugar and arrowroot to create a soluble powder. 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 10 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 upon the birth of a child. The firm organised an annual excursion or dinner for their workers. In 1864 a company funded brass band was established.
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.
W A Ross was one of the largest soft drinks manufacturers in Ireland.
William Adolphus Ross (1817 – 1900) worked as managing director at Cantrell & Cochrane, soft drinks manufacturers of Belfast, for around ten 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 was 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.
Cantrell & Cochrane was the largest manufacturer of soft drinks in the world.
Thomas Joseph Cantrell (1827 – 1909) was born in Dublin. He qualified as a medical practitioner and became a principal assistant at Grattan & Co, a Belfast firm of chemists. Grattan & Co also manufactured soft drinks, and introduced the first carbonated “ginger ale”.
Cantrell left Grattan & Co in 1852 to form his own chemists business with James Dyas at 22 Castle Place, Belfast.
Dyas & Cantrell manufactured mineral waters, ginger ale, lemonade and soda water, as well as other products. From 1856 the firm began to manufacture sarsaparilla.
In 1859 James Dyas left the partnership to establish his own soft drinks and chemists business. Dyas & Cantrell continued to trade as T J Cantrell.
Perhaps no longer restrained by Dyas, Cantrell began to advertise extensively from the 1860s. The firm had depots in Dublin, Liverpool and Glasgow by 1862. The firm retained its headquarters at Castle Place, but expanding production saw soft drink manufacture relocate to 10 Arthur Place, Belfast.
Increasing demand for their products saw T J Cantrell relocate to 25 Bank Street, Belfast, a former brewery, in 1863. The firm commenced export of its ginger ale to America in 1866.
In 1868 T J Cantrell merged with the soft drinks business of Henry Cochrane (1836 – 1904) of Dublin to form Cantrell & Cochrane. At this time the premises of the Hibernian Mineral Water Company of Nassau Place, Dublin were acquired.
By 1868 Cantrell & Cochrane had contracts to supply several shipping lines, including Cunard, Inman, Montreal, National and City of Dublin.
In 1877 Cantrell & Cochrane successfully trademarked the “Club Soda” name in Britain and Ireland.
Cantrell retired from the partnership in 1883, leaving Cochrane as the sole proprietor, although the Cantrell & Cochrane name was retained.
According to the Belfast Morning News, by 1884 Cantrell & Cochrane was the largest soft drink manufacturer in the world.
By 1885 the Dublin works employed around 500 people and had an annual production capacity of nearly 30 million bottles a year. Almost all of Nassau Place was occupied. The city and suburban trade employed sixteen two-horse vans. The Belfast factory was of a similar size.
The Belfast Morning News claimed in 1885 that what Guinness was to porter, and Bass was to pale ale, Cantrell & Cochrane was to ginger ale, especially in America.
Cantrell & Cochrane became a private limited liability company in 1898. The company was awarded a Royal Warrant by the King of Great Britain in 1901.
Cantrell & Cochrane was one of the largest exporters from Ireland by the time Henry Cochrane died in 1904. He was succeeded as chairman by his son, Ernest Cecil Cochrane (1874 – 1952).
Cantrell died in 1909 with an estate valued at £70,045.
In 1914 the Dublin factory employed around 1,000 people.
The First World War threatened the firm’s large and valuable American trade, so a factory was established in New York.
In 1925 Cantrell & Cochrane was sold to E & J Burke, bottlers of Guinness in America, and Ernest Cecil Cochrane stepped down as chairman.
By 1930 Cantrell & Cochrane had a capital of £200,000.
The end of Prohibition in the United States damaged the Cantrell & Cochrane export trade.
In 1950 E & J Burke was acquired by Guinness.
By 1953 the American subsidiary, with a factory at Englewood, New Jersey, had been sold to National Phoenix Industries.
In 1968 Guinness merged Cantrell & Cochrane with the Irish soft drinks operations of Allied Breweries (later Allied Domecq) to form C&C.
Cantrell & Cochrane (Dublin) had close to 60 percent of the Irish soft drinks market by 1974. Drinks were produced at a modern factory at Ballyfermot, Dublin.
In 1997 C&C employed 1,600 people.
In 1998 Allied Domecq acquired the 49.6 percent stake of C&C it did not own from Guinness for £270 million.
In 1999 Allied Domecq sold C&C to BC Partners for £580 million.
C&C Group became a public company from 2004. C&C sold its non-alcoholic drinks business to Britvic in 2007.
Former C&C drinks are still sold by Britvic in Ireland under the “Club” brand.
The former American subsidiary still operates from New Jersey, and its products include C&C Cola and C&C Ginger Ale.
Idris “Fiery” ginger beer is sold throughout Britain, and is manufactured by Britvic.
Thomas Howell Williams (1842 – 1925) was born at Vallen, Pembrokeshire, the son of a Welsh-speaking Baptist farmer. He was apprenticed to a chemist in Monmouthshire at the age of twelve. He emigrated to London in 1863.
Manufacturing chemists of the era often produced soft drinks, which were purported to have medical benefits. Ginger ale, Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper were all created by chemists.
Williams established Idris & Co, soft drink manufacturer, on Pratt Street, Camden Town in 1875. An ardent Welsh nationalist, his business was named after a mountain in his homeland.
Idris & Co employed at least 400 men by 1891. That year, a generous profit-sharing scheme was introduced for the employees. The firm was incorporated in 1892 with a nominal capital of £100,000.
T H Williams added Idris to his surname by deed poll in 1893.
Idris & Co employed two automated carbonated soft drink filling machines, which were designed by T H W Idris himself.
Between 1895 and 1897, Idris & Co nearly doubled in size. Additional factories had been established at Southampton by 1896 and at Liverpool by 1898. A public offering in 1897 took company capital to £150,000. By 1897 the company had a Royal Warrant to supply Queen Victoria.
A merger was proposed between Idris & Co and the Chemists’ Aerated & Mineral Waters Association in 1898. With a capital of £400,000 the business would have had the scale to rival Schweppes. However the merger plans did not come to fruition.
Idris & Co had a share capital of £216,000 by 1900. Depots were located at Teddington, Watford, Reigate, Folkstone, Portsmouth and Bournemouth. The company employed almost 1,000 people, including nearly 200 at the Camden Town factory. That year, five million bottles of carbonated soft drinks were sold, as well as millions of non-carbonated drinks. That year, an additional factory was opened at Canterbury.
Motorised distribution was introduced in 1901. Horse-driven carts had previously limited road distribution to a 17 mile radius.
Politically T H W Idris was a radical and a progressive. In 1902 he invited representatives of the Social Democratic Federation and the National Democratic League to inspect his wages bill. They declared that Idris & Co was paying the highest wages in the industry, that retired workers received pensions and that the profit-sharing scheme had distributed thousands of pounds to staff.
In 1904-5 T H W Idris served as the Mayor of St Pancras. Between 1906 and 1910 he was the Liberal Member of Parliament for Flintshire.
By 1908 Idris & Co had a Royal Warrant to supply Edward VII.
120 women and girls at the Camden Town factory went on strike in 1911 in protest at the dismissal of an employee. The strikers agreed to an independent review of the case by the Board of Trade. The review cleared Idris & Co of any wrongdoing.
By 1912 Idris & Co was distributing soft drinks within a 50 mile radius of its Camden Town factory. Depots were situated at Watford, Teddington, Enfield and Southend. The company had over one million bottles. By 1914 the firm had 21 lorries. By 1916 Idris & Co had a Royal Warrant to supply George V.
Thomas Howell Williams Idris died in 1925 with an estate valued at £30,317. He was succeeded as chairman by his son, Walter Howell Williams Idris (1875 – 1939).
In 1936 Idris & Co opened a new depot at Chelmsford, Essex.
W H W Idris died in 1939, with a gross estate valued at £20,230. He was succeeded as chairman by Joseph Edward Southwell. In 1943 Southwell stepped down, and was succeeded by Ivor Trevena Idris (1911 – 1993), the grandson of the late founder.
Idris mineral water was not available during the Second World War due to Government restrictions aimed at rationalising production.
In 1961 Coca-Cola Bottlers of Scotland was acquired.
In 1964 Idris entered into a joint venture with Fuller Smith & Turner, the London brewer, for the 7 Up bottling franchise for London and the South East.
In 1965 the antiquated Camden Town factories were closed, and production was relocated to a new site at White Hart Lane, Tottenham.
Following problems establishing the new factory, and a fire at the Coca-Cola Scotland plant, in 1965-6 the company made a loss of £348,000.
In 1967 the loss-making Idris was acquired by Beecham, which owned the Lucozade, Ribena and Corona soft drinks brands.
The Beecham soft drinks business was acquired by Britvic in 1987.
H D Rawlings was one of the largest and most prestigious soft drinks manufacturers in Victorian England.
In press advertising from 1860, Rawlings & Co claimed an establishment date of 1815. John Rawlings (1771 – 1848), ginger beer manufacturer, was certainly based at Nassau Street, Fitzrovia by 1827. The exact address is confirmed as 2 Nassau Street by 1831.
John Rawlings died in 1848 and the business was inherited by his sons, John (1806 – 1853) and James (1814 – 1882). In 1851 James Rawlings lived at 2 Nassau Street and was a ginger beer manufacturer employing 20 men. John Rawlings lived at 3 Nassau Street, and was also a ginger beer manufacturer.
John Rawlings died in 1853 and his stake in the business was inherited by Sarah Rawlings (1819 – 1863), his widow.
The business occupied 2-4 Nassau Street by 1856, and the range of drinks had been expanded to include lemonade and soda, as well as ginger beer.
Sarah Rawlings married her clerk, Henry Doo (1837 – 1904) in 1857, and he took on the name Henry Doo Rawlings.
Premises had extended to include 8 Charles Street, Fitzrovia by 1860.
At the instigation of James Rawlings, a works’ brass band was established in 1862. The firm enjoyed a strong relationship with its workforce, which it treated to an annual dinner or excursion.
Sarah Doo (nee Rawlings) died in September 1863, with an estate valued at under £7,000. H D Rawlings became principal partner in the firm, although James Rawlings also had a stake, and the firm traded as H D & J Rawlings.
Less than four months after the death of his wife, Henry Doo Rawlings married Jane Sewell in Paris.
H D & J Rawlings had a Royal Warrant to supply Queen Victoria with soft drinks by 1864.
Henry Doo Rawlings was described in the Marylebone Mercury in 1866 as “lively, open-hearted and genial, easily approached, with no manifest sense of self-importance”. James Rawlings was described as more reserved, “but thoroughly cordial and kind when the ice was broken”.
The firm was a generous contributor to the Licensed Victuallers Asylum, a charity for retired victuallers.
The firm supplied the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Emperor of France by 1869.
James Rawlings retired in 1870, and the firm was continued under the name H D Rawlings.
There was a gas explosion at the Nassau Street factory in 1877. Henry Doo Rawlings and two other men received burns to their faces and hands, and had to be taken to Middlesex Hospital.
The firm was based at 2 Nassau Street and Berners Street in 1879.
Henry Doo Rawlings was granted the Freedom of the City of London in 1886.
R White & Sons of Camberwell acquired H D Rawlings in 1891. It was also incorporated as a limited company at this time. The Rawlings brand continued as the “premium” offering alongside the “standard” R White’s soft drinks.
H D Rawlings advertised that it could supply up to 120,000 stone bottles of ginger beer within notice of a few hours in 1892. The Rawlings factory was on Neate Street, Camberwell by 1894.
Henry Doo Rawlings died in Paris in 1904. He left an estate valued at over £47,000.
H D Rawlings was based at 8 Mortimer Street, Fitzrovia and Neate Street, Camberwell in 1914. The company employed about 400 people.
The licensed trade in the London area was the principal customer for H D Rawlings products by 1952.
R White & Sons was acquired by Whitbread, a national brewer, in 1969.
H D Rawlings was based at Winsor Terrace, London by 1975. By this time the brand was primarily being marketed as a mixer for spirits, and was largely affiliated with the on-trade of clubs, hotels and public houses.
Whitbread and Bass merged their soft drinks operations to form Canada Dry Rawlings in 1980. Bass owned 65 percent of the venture and Whitbread owned the remainder. The business concentrated on supplying the licensed trade.
Britvic acquired Canada Dry Rawlings in 1986. Britvic phased out the Rawlings name in favour of the Britvic brand.