THE STORY OF SCHWEPPES - PART 3 1834 - 1897

On the 1st June 1834 Schweppes passed to a new owners. The two new partners were John Kemp Welch a wine merchant from Bath and 24 years old and William Evill, another resident of Bath, aged 44 years. Together they purchased the company from R A Sparkes. In 1834 the firm held leasehold premises in Berners Street, Riding House Lane, Bridge Street Bristol and Friar Gate Derby. One of the first innovations of the new team was Schweppes Aerated Lemonade, first introduced in 1835. This was a quite radical change for the previous 50 years, Schweppes had concentrated on producing only soda water and artificial mineral waters like seltzer water. There is evidence from some invoices of 1821 that Schweppes had provided occasional supplies of ginger beer. However, it was not until 1898 that this drink would be supplied on a permanent basis. In 1836 the company was honoured to receive a warrant of appointment as manufacturers of soda water to Their Royal highnesses, the Duchess of Kent and the Princess Victoria. In August 1837 a new warrant of appointment was granted by Queen Victoria as purveyors of soda water. The next innovation was the importation of "German Seltzer Water" in both quarts and pints which were bottled at the springs. This would seem to be a response to the great popularity of this drink, and also to some competition from the "German Spa" opened in Brighton by R. F . A Struve MD in 1825. In 1838 came another step forward and a new factory - at 148 London Road, Liverpool. Records indicate this was a good move as the sales from the Liverpool factory soon passed those of both Bristol and Derby. A slightly surpising innovation was the retailing of wines, no doubt due to the influence and interest of Kemp-Welch.

Green "dumpy seltzers" used by Schweppes to bottle copies of a famous spring water. On  the left a typical 1880's blob top. To the right a later post 1900 crown cork variety. Both feature the famous FOUNTAIN trade mark used by Schweppes AFTER the Great Exhibition of 1851 (actually used much later than 1851!!)

In 1851 came an event which was to prove to have enormous significance for Schweppes. Sales had been increasing year by year but in 1851 they had an opportunity to place their goods before a worldwide audience. The Great Exhibition, housed in an enormous building in Hyde Park, advertised for tenders to supply refreshments and Schweppes took the contract by paying £5,500. They very quickly sub-contracted the catering to two other companies. The commissioners of the Exhibition would not allow the sale of wines, spirits, beers or intoxicating liquors but tea, coffee, chocolate, cocoa, lemonades, ices, ginger beer, seltzer and soda water would be permitted. Schweppes contribution to the Great Exhibition was their soda and other mineral waters, aerated lemonade and German seltzer water. They also took this opportunity to introduce their new MALVERN soda water, made at a newly located factory in Malvern ,close to the springs. During the six months of the Great Exhibition , Schweppes recorded record sales of well over one million bottles. The Exhibition also had the effect of boosting their sales in general. In 1851 sales were 175,000 dozen. In 1852 it rose to 192,000 dozen.

In 1865 Schweppes took production of their waters north of the border for the first time. The original factory was in Marlow Street, Kinning Park, on the outskirts of Glasgow .By 1877 a manufacturing branch was opened in faraway Sydney Australia. In 1884 a factory was set up in Brooklyn New York and in 1885 another factory was commissioned in Australia - in Melbourne. During the 1870s came more innovations in the drinks line. Both tonic water and ginger ale were added. Ginger ale could be supplied either dry or sweet. The introduction of the "tonic" water or "flavoured" quinine drink is said to date from the days of the British Raj in India. The British took quinine as an antidote for fevers and flavoured the bitter taste with lemon or limes with gin. On returning home they continued to enjoy the drink, so market was there to be catered for. Schweppes appears to have made its first "Cola" drink in around 1885 with a reference of the "Glasgow House" having sent the Booker Brothers of Demarara a sample of Kola. The drink did not appear in the main price lists until 1916.

Schweppes Limited 1886 - 1897

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A typical 1880's pint ovate bottle used by Schweppes . Note the blob top or lip and the very sharp egg point end. Many UK collectors incorrectly refer to these as "hamiltons" !!! (click on the thumbnail for  a larger image)

At the age of seventy four years , John Kemp Welch died on 24th January 1885. His partner, William Evill had died eight years previously.. The company was now in the hands of the descendants of the two partners. In 1886 they agreed to transfer their interests into a limited liability company . Authorised capital was fixed at £350,00 in shares of £10 each, giving the business a net book value of £112,000 . In 1892 came a further re-structuring and the new J Schweppe & Co. Ltd. was incorporated on 2nd January 1893. During the 1880ís Schweppes adopted the use of syphons to bottle their soda, potass, seltzer and lithia waters. In the last decade of the century, Schweppes opened two new factories. One was at Colwall in the Malvern Hills, and the other was at Hendon in Middlesex, six miles north of London. The balance sheet for 1892 recorded the writing off of a loss on plant, machinery and stocks including a stock of Aesculap ( a spring water imported from Budapest) in New York. This resulted in the decision to stop production in America. In 1893, the old factory at Berners Street had seen production for more than sixty years and had witnessed sales which had multiplied twenty-fold .In April 1893 the board members resolved to move to another site in or around London. A suitable site at Hendon was found. Many of the workers at the new factory came from the old one at Berners Street. The early days at Hendon still saw old fashioned bottling techniques - hand bottling, with the corks being malleted in and secured by boy wirers .In a few short years, rotary fillers with crown cork machinery was introduced. As the old century was drawing to a close, Schweppes were gearing up for the new challenges ahead.

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A flat bottomed ovate or skittle mineral water used by Schweppes in great numbers after 1900. It replaced the egg pointed side lying bottle which had served the company well for nearly 100 years. Click the thumbnail for a bigger image

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