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Gregory's Aerated Water Works"

Aerated Water Works, Chester Road, Buckley


Buckley Society Magazine Issue One, July 1970


see also 65.32 for another article by Harold G. Gregory on the Codd bottle. The photograph referred to in that entry was included in the magazine for this article but its reproduction was was of poor quality




THERE IS no doubt that many of the 'over-forties' look back with pleasant memories and recollections of the 'pop' alley bottle, and of pleasant journeys in the 'pop' cart.


The sparkling Aerated Waters, in many flavours - Lemonade,Lime Juice, Apple Wine, Cherry Fizz, Orangeade etc.- as well as the Ginger Beers, Ginger Ales and Dry Gingers, were delivered in dozen and two-dozen cases to numerous customers within a radius of ten to fifteen miles from the local works at Buckley. Deliveries were made twice a week, and very pleasant were the journeys to Mold, Flint, Connah's Quay, to Caergwrle, Frwd and Ffrith, to Gwernaffield and Gwernymynydd, and to Cilcain, Halkyn and Holywell, with their glorious views.


The pop-cart horses, such as Jolly and Sam, were real stalwarts for hill climbing, and the lorries and carts real masterpieces of the local wheelwrights' art. The horse lorries were fitted with wheel brakes operated from the drivers' seats, and a detachable iron 'shoe' was available for 'scotching' the wheels on hilly descents.


How well we remember our early efforts to 'sup' out of the pop alley bottle! If we held the bottle in the wrong position, the marble prevented us from having a good drink, until we realised that the bottle should be held in a certain way.


The pop alley bottle was rather unique, and a most interesting bottle, used solely in the Mineral Water trade. It was an internally stoppered bottle. The most popular type was the invention of Hiram Codd and was termed "Codd's Patent Bottle". It was introduced around the 1870s. The bottle was so constructed as to give two inner ledges, which prevented a clear glass marble or 'alley' from falling into the liquid; slightly above these constrictions or ledges were indents in the glass, which kept the glass marble from obstructing the even flow of the liquid on pouring. In the neck of the bottle a rubber ring was inserted, the glass marble making a gas and liquid tight seal against the rubber ring, the marble being kept in position by internal pressure. To open the bottle it was only necessary to push down the marble stopper, which, rolled smoothly into the indents in the glass, out of the way of the liquid being poured. To facilitate easy opening, a special opener was used, comprising a wooden cap with inside peg or dowel, which, on being fitted to the top of the bottle and pressed, pushed the marble down; there was a similar opener for fitting to the shop counter.


There were many patents for this type of internally stoppered bottle. Several were variants of the Codd's patent, but the one-way (that is, poured one way only) bottle was the most popular. A four-way was circulated around 1881 and a two-way Codd was registered in 1892. In a patent of 1886 the neck was fore-shortened, and two bulge's just under the mouth on opposite sides retained the glass marble. In 1864 Edward Hamilton invented an internal stopper made of india-rubber, which was injected into the bottle by force through a contracted neck. Another idea was a tall bottle provided with a long, slightly tapering, wooden plug, dowel or skewer, this being kept in position by the pressure and opened by pushing down. The Lament and the Vallets patent stopper, comprising an ebonite stopper with a rubber joint, circulated around 1870, and an improved

patent appeared in 1880.


As the factory at Buckley manufacturing the Aerated Waters was demolished in 1962, it may be of interest to describe the buildings, plant and machinery used in the production of Aerated Waters, as the factory might well be taken as a typical Aerated Water factory of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.


The buildings, facing the main Chester-Mold road, were of considerable height, forming a prominent landmark for many miles around, and were built of buff coloured semi-engineering bricks, made locally at the Mount Pleasant brickworks, which with the Mount Pleasant collieries, at the time belonged to the firm of Messrs J.B. Gregory and Company, Buckley. The main building had four large windows facing the roadway. The entrance to the offices and factory was originally intended to be through a main office door, but owing to the works floor being about three feet higher than the roadway, steps had to be placed in front of the main office doorway for entrance, and these were later considered to be an encroachment and had to be removed. Normal entrance was made through a small door, inserted in the main double doors, leading to the well or loading bay, whence three steps led to the factory and office floor. On entry from the loading bay, the offices were on the left hand side, and the storage on the right. The machinery and plant was at the far end, and was driven by shafting and pulleys placed on the end wall, and powered by a vertical steam engine, placed on the right hand side. This was supplied from a small vertical boiler erected in an adjoining lean-to shed and accessible from a small door leading from the factory floor. (The right hand side of the main building was almost a duplicate of the front). The shafting extended through the side wall and the power was used also for driving a hay and straw cutter and a barley and oats crushing machine situated in an adjoining two-storey building.


For about a quarter of the length of the factory, and directly over the Aerated Water machinery and bottling plant, there was a second floor, made accessible by means of a flight of wooden steps on the left hand side of the factory. On this second floor were the fermentation room, complete with vats, and the syrup-mixing and cooling equipment, comprising three enamelled iron

pans, with filters and cooling pans below (having direct connection to the various bottling machines on the ground floor). A steam-jacketed boiling pan was placed at a slightly higher level, to enable the contents to flow into the syrup-mixing pans, or, when required for the boiling of ginger roots, hops, dandelion and burdock roots etc, into the fermentation vats.


The main water storage tank was situated at the highest level on this floor, and was a large slate tank with charcoal filtering apparatus. Directly under this tank were two smaller slate tanks used for the preparation of the various mineral waters, potassa, lithia etc. the required quantity of salts being added to the water in these tanks, which were connected by means of block tin pipes to the pumping plant below. Shelves, cupboards for storage of Winchesters of essences etc, and storage bins for sugar and other ingredients, were also on this floor. The sugar supply, usually in two cwt.bags, was lifted from the ground floor by means of a manually operated wheel pulley, block and chain. A separate water supply tank was located on the ground floor.

The plant and machinery located on the ground floor comprised (a) A bottle -washing plant (Dawson type), manually operated soaking trays and rinsers, and mechanically driven brushes. Four people were employed here; (b) Aerated Water machinery, gas holder or gasometer and stands for gas cylinders; (c) Mechanically operated pumping machinery for compressing the gas and water; (d) the saturating or mixing cylinder, complete with mechanically driven agitators, water level and pressure gauge.


Aeration consists in saturating water under pressure with carbonic acid gas; water at ordinary temperature (60 degrees) absorbs about its own weight of gas (cold, more; warm, less), but if the atmospheric pressure is doubled by applying say 15lbs to the square inch we get twice the amount of gas in the water. On releasing the pressure, the excess of gas escapes into the air, and as bottling is done from 60 to 100lbs pressure to the square inch, a large amount of gas is absorbed by the liquid. In operating the Aerated Water machinery, the gas was released into the gasometer by turning a nozzle, and the gasometer would rise; the pumping machinery would then be set in motion by sliding the loose pulley into fast, and adjusting the gas and water taps. The pressure would then gradually build up in the saturating or mixing cylinder as indicated by the pressure

gauge, normally taking ten to fifteen minutes to attain the requisite pressure for bottling. The normal supply of soda water was connected to the bottling machine by block tin pipes. Codd's bottling machine was in simple form, the 'Hand Turnover' ; the empty 'Codds' bottle was placed upside down, neck downwards, against a rubber coned joint, and was clamped into position by a spring-loaded levered handle; the handle (with bottle) was then pulled over, operating a pump which supplied the requisite quantity of syrup (if flavoured goods) and also opening a soda water valve, which partially filled the bottle. By momentarily releasing the handle, the atmospheric air was allowed to escape, whereupon the filling continued until the bottle was filled as observed through a protective gauze. The handle was then turned back, lifted against the spring, and the bottle taken out.


The main difference between a machine for bottling internally stoppered bottles such as the Codds bottle from other machines, was that at the last stage of filling, the bottle had to be upside down to allow the stopper to seal properly. During the fifty or so years when the Codds bottle was in popular favour, there is no doubt that the bottling machines for this type of bottle attained a very high degree of efficiency. A typical machine of this type was the 'Triumph' Two-Head Codds Filling Machine by Messrs Meadowcroft of Blackburn. Two adjustable filling heads were fitted to a vertical faceplate, in such a position that when one bottle was at the top, the other bottle was at the bottom; the filling orifices were in the centre of the machine. On the machine being set in motion, the faceplate revolved, and on a filling head coming to the top, automatically rose by means of cam action, permitting an empty bottle to be placed neck down against the rubber coned filling-head orifice. In certain positions, as the bottle travelled round, it was syruped, partially filled, snifted (that is, air was released) and the filling was completed as it arrived at the top of the machine, where it was taken out and an empty bottle inserted. A further improved type was the 'Gas-Saver' by Messrs Barnett and Foster. This machine was a good bottler and quick take off easily attained a speed of 100 to 120 dozen an hour, according to the size of the bottles, which were normally 5 and 10 ozs.


For the filling and corking of the Cork Seal type bottles, as used for half pint Pop Bitters and speciality drinks such as Dry Ginger Ale, a hand-lever operated machine was used. The lever was thrown right back, the bottle inserted, and kept in position against the filling orifice by means of a foot pedal; a supple cork was inserted between two jaws, and the lever being pulled half over, they gripped the cork; the bottle having been previously syruped, was then filled with soda water by pressing down a small handle; and then by pushing back it operated the sniffing valve; when the bottle was filled the lever was pulled right over so operating a ram which forced the cork into the mouth of the bottle. The Dry Ginger Ales in small bottles called 'Nips' were wired; a partly assembled wire was used having two loops, the ends twisted and tinned; two outer wires went round the outside of the bottle, while two inner wires were drawn over the cork and twisted by means of a tapered hook.


Syphons, of 40 oz. capacity, porcelain lined, were filled on a single head Syphon Filling machine, the syphons being filled in an upside down position. The syphon was held in position by means of a pedal and a short hand lever opened the valve. The syphon was filled by alternate filling and snifting, operated by another hand lever. The pressure required was much higher than for normal bottling.


Non-intoxicating Stone Ginger Beer and also drinks like Dandelion and Burdock, were prepared in the Fermentation room in batches of 120 gallons or in half batches, and when ready for bottling, were run down to the ground floor and bottled on a gravity feed, hand-bottling apparatus, and the tapered corks driven in by mallet and wired.


Filled cases were trucked to the top end of the factory for labelling, sighting and storage, ready for loading onto lorries. Deliveries were made, up to the end of the First World War, by means of two double horse lorries, and two or three carts, according to the weather conditions. The price range up to the beginning of the First World War was: Codds 10 oz size sweetened goods 8d or 9d a dozen, for retail in the shops at a penny a bottle; speciality drinks slightly higher. Soda water was supplied in the smaller 5 oz bottles, as also was special Lemonade.


The works was lit by coal gas supplied through mains from the local gas works, the Buckley Gas Company; and slack for the boiler was collected usually from the Mountain Colliery.


Note: protective clothing in the form of wire masks and woollen gloves had to be used in the bottling, labelling & sighting operations, in case bottles exploded.


EARLY HISTORY of the works.

On the supply of water to the district from Moel Famau and the Clwydian range of hills in about 1886, a company was formed (1888-9) trading as the Buckley Aerated Water Co., chiefly at the instigation of John Bates Gregory of Cold Arbour House . On his death in 1891, the business was carried on by Mrs Ellen Kenyon Gregory, his widow, with the assistance of various members of the Gregory Kenyon family, sons and daughters. From approximately 1891 to 1912 the business traded under the name of E.K. Gregory, and shortly after the death of Mrs Gregory, the business was formed into a private limited company, and traded as Gregory's Limited. The buildings and works were demolished in 1962/3 the site now being occupied by Chester Road Petrol Filling and Service Station.

Author: Gregory, Harold G


Year = 1950

Building = Industrial

Landscape = Urban

Work = Light Industry

Extra = 1950s

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