How long has Buxton water been bottled?
The evidence suggests that Buxton water has been bottled since at least the 1850s. The first reference to Buxton Water sold by the bottle is in a copy of the Morning Advertiser, a London newspaper for Tuesday 17th April 1855. Someone in the town had paid for four front page adverts. In those days the classified adverts were on the front page of the paper, printed in dense columns – and one of them reads:
Buxton Mineral Waters. – Bottled by authority at St. Ann’s Springs. – Sold in Pint Bottles, with direction for Use, by Francis E. Nielson, Pharmaceutical Chemist, the Quadrant, Buxton; and by Hawkins and Co. Importers of Mineral Waters, Duke-Street, St. James’s, London.
Terms such as ‘Directions for Use’ and ‘Pharmaceutical Chemist’ tell us that, at this time, ‘taking’ the waters of Buxton was considered a healthy cure for many ailments.
The water would have been sold in Hamilton style bottles, first made in the 1840s. Their torpedo shape requires them to be stored on their side, which helped to retain the bubbliness of the water and prevented corks from drying out and loosening.
Buxton was not connected to the rail network until the 1860s. Before then, we assume the bottles would have been transported on carts of packhorses to the canal basin at Buxworth and then the precious water would have been taken by barge through the canal system to London.
The next snippet we have is to announce that the Buxton Mineral and Aerated Water Company, Buxton, Derbyshire was dissolved on or before 12 October 1872. A new company almost immediately springs from the ashes. The Buxton Herald and Gazette of Fashion minuted the first ordinary meeting of shareholders for Buxton Mineral Water Company on 4 September 1873.
The chairman, WS Gandy, spoke of the demand for Buxton Water, as well as new ways to bottle it:
“Gentlemen, in addition to the ordinary Soda Bottles, we have now in use Barrett’s Patent or Corkless Bottles, and have this last month taken up a licence for Codd’s Patent Bottles: this is a bottle which, whilst offering the advantages of Barrett’s Corkless, also possesses special advantages itself as regards cleanliness and appearance, so that in this department we shall be able to please any choice of customers…”
Hiram Codd had perfected the design of these bottles in the same year, so Buxton Mineral Water Company was among the very first licence holders. The bottles have a marble in the neck which is held against a rubber seal by the force of the gases inside.
The codd bottle proved very popular, but other designs followed too. Soda syphons, or seltzer bottles, became very popular in the 1920s and 30s. They are designed to allow carbonated water to be drawn from the bottle, without affected the pressure inside. This keeps the contents from going flat.
However, as the 20th century wore on the screw cap become king, first on glass bottles and later on plastic too. Most recently we find the sports-style cap as seen in the bottle below.
Buxton water is still bottled and sold all over the country, though it’s now marketed for sports and hydration rather than as a miraculous health tonic!