The Herbal Brewery, Garden Lane
Before the First World War there was a mineral water works at 157 Garden Lane which was run by Davies & Moulding. A large undated flagon bearing both their names at 'The Herbal Brewery' located there recently appeared for sale.
In the 1911 Census, William Joseph Davies is listed aged 38, living at 10 Salisbury Street, as an employer at a herbal brewery meaning that the business was established some time before that date. (In the 1901 Census he was a cellar man working for a brewery in Birkenhead). Harry Moulding is listed as aged 35, living at 93 Whipcord Lane, his occupation is also shown as a herbal brewer.
The partnership was dissolved by mutual consent on 3rd April 1917. Just before this an advertisement appeared for "the sale of a motor waggon (sic) 40 hp F.I.A.T., the owner having no further use owing to being called up, at 157 Garden Lane". This is probably why the partnership was dissolved. Military records show that No.60218 Private Harry Moulding was recruited into the 16th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment, which was set up in April 1917 as a transport battalion charged with the logistics and movement of materials mainly in the Mersey Docks area. Its recruits, who were not issued with arms, were usually in the upper age band for call up. Harry was then aged 41. The unit was disbanded in 1919.
On his return from military service Harry Moulding ran a butcher's shop in Crane Street - the 1891 Census shows that as a young man he was an apprentice butcher. Another glazed flagon labelled Moulding & Sons, Crane Street, 1937 has also been found; it is not known if the Mouldings still had a connection with the mineral works or simply advertised the contents produced by it under their name on the flagons.
A flagon bearing the name W. J. Davies, presumably then carrying on the business alone is dated 1920.
In 1921 an accident was reported involving a lorry owned by Davies & Haynes, Herbal Beer Makers, and it would appear that another partnership had been set up; another flagon bearing both names dated 1929 has been found.
This partnership seems to have been enlarged to include a third partner because in 1935 the firm of Davies, Haynes and Dodd was put into liquidation, the business then being situated in Whipcord Lane and described as containing a herbal brewery plant, 2 motors and bottles. The business was not sold as a going concern and in March 1936 the contents of what was then described as The Botanical Brewery, Whipcord Lane were sold by auction.
Eight years earlier an advert on 2nd June 1928 stated that the premises originally known as The Herbal Brewery, 157 Garden Lane were to let. Seven weeks later a similar advert, referring to the premises as the "former Mineral Water Works" appeared. The business appears to have moved to Whipcord Lane at that time.
From 1939 to at least 1945 the original premises at 157 Garden Lane became a garage run by Fletchers, who specialised in auto-electrics. From 1969 to probably 1978 a car sales business was run from there called Lane End Motors (No.157 was at the end of the Lane).
Herbal beers have been brewed for centuries, but non-alcoholic versions were promoted in the Victorian era by the temperance movement attempting to combat the excessive consumption of gin and beer by the working classes. Varieties such as dandelion and burdock and, of course, ginger beer survived, and the addition of fruit flavours to aerated mineral water produced lemonade, orangeade, raspberryade etc. Soda water manufacturers were also into this market and from the early 1900s with the advent of mass glass bottle production, firms in Chester included Laycocks in Linenhall Street, and the Dee and Cestrian Mineral Water Companies.
These firms combined in 1938 to become Dee, Cestrian & Laycocks opening a bottling plant at the Portland Works on Station Road in 1945. The company was wound up in 1968.
Also, after the Second World War a national company with the now unfortunate name of Corona established weekly delivery rounds of 'pop' to residential areas. In Chester their base was in Handbridge, before moving to the Sealand Industrial Estate. Deposits had to be paid on the bottles which ensured that they were returned. Corona Soft Drinks had been founded in South Wales in the 1880s again in response to the temperance movement, it was sold to the Beecham Group in 1958 and subsequently Britvic but stopped trading as such in the late 1990s.
There are not many businesses that leave behind artefacts which illustrate so graphically the history of their ownership.
- Article researched and written by Ralph Earlam, September 2020, Hoole History & Heritage Society