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Carters Mineral Water
Carters pop factory was probably the biggest and most prosperous company to have been founded in Sawley. Despite various name changes throughout its working history, the factory was always affectionately known as Carters. There had been a lemonade factory in Sawley for over 100 years. Not so in 1890, most towns and villages had large numbers of aerated water manufacturers keen to cash in on the seemingly endless market for soft drinks. It took little to set up a mineral water company. For as little as 50 one could purchase all the machinery and bottle filling equipment to produce bottled waters. The main requirement was a well which offered limitless supplies of fresh water.

Until 1897 most of Sawley's soft drinks had been supplied by two large companies based in Long Eaton. W. J. Hopps, of Orchard Street, and Dalgleish & Sons, of Manchester Street. Most of the public houses had tied deals with W. E. Burrows and Sturgess & Co of Derby. In 1897 Francis Barber began producing mineral waters in Sawley. He called his factory the 'Jubilee Works' after the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria in that year. Barber bottled his waters in the most used bottle of its type in those days, called the 'Codd bottle' this utilised a captive glass marble in the neck of the bottle used as a stopper. The lip diameter of the bottle was smaller than that of the marble. A soft rubber ring was then fitted and the bottle was filled upturned causing the gas pressure to force the marble into the seal. It required no other corking or stopper. Little is known of Francis N. Barber, his wares were popular, especially in the outlying districts of Draycott, Castle Donnington and Shardlow. Some of his bottles are still regularly found in the area by bottle collectors.

Edward Carter is first documented in Bulmers Directory of Derbyshire in 1895 as landlord of the Blue Bell public house on Long Eaton's High Street. No documentary evidence is available except that he took over the affairs of Francis Barber some time around 1905-08. It is quite possible that Barber then moved to Draycott. Edward Carter expanded the product range, bottling Orangeade, Lemonade, Ginger Beer, Horehound Beer and Soda Water. Carters Soft Drinks rapidly became the most popular in the area prior to the beginning of the First World War. Many of his local competitors had ceased trading because they were unable to update their machinery which had been used since the 1870's. Carters had invested in new Barnett & Foster pressurised filling equipment. The machinery, with its brass dials and carbon dioxide tanks were polished lovingly every day. Fresh lemons, oranges and ginger were crushed to form flavours to be mixed with syrups. Carters began to use the newfangled bottle closures, out went the Codd bottle (although he did use them up until 1920 for lemon and orangeade) and corks. In came the screw thread and crown cap, this enabled Carters to refill and re-sell at twice the rate of the competition.

In 1919 Edward Carter sold his business to Anthony J. Marmont, who had been the manager of the Stroud Mineral Water Company before the outbreak of war. He had served in East Africa during the conflict and had returned to take up his old profession. The company thrived in the inter war years, their main rival being that of Cowburns of Grosvenor Avenue in Sawley. Another well known firm was Taylors Soft Drinks of Long Eaton, which began trading in 1925. A testimony of E. Carter and Co's success was a review of the company in the 1936 Long Eaton Year Book which said ".....for as the business has developed and indeed from every inception - one aim has been to place before the public, products of the highest standard......Messrs Carter & Company have built up an enviable reputation....."

It is believed that Cowburns began to manufacture soft drinks in Sawley some time around 1933. Their products were available in Sawley as early as the 1920's, but they would have originated from their Burnley headquarters. The Cowburns brand disappeared in the mid 1950's. One of the later brews they produced was 'Patella', a not so soft champagne type drink!

Carters main accolade came in 1922 when they were winners of the Gold Medal in the Mineral Water Trade Review Competition - proof indeed that their drinks were one of the top soft drinks nationwide. Carters Gold Medal Soft Drinks survived to become one of the largest independent manufacturers of soft drinks in the country. The factory overtook the centre of Sawley until eventually it outgrew the village which led to its inevitable move to Kegworth and its new huge plant there.

One can't help but wonder what Teddy Carter would have made of it all, he would have probably marvelled at the new technology, but probably have been a little disappointed with the drink. Despite all the name changes the old site will probably always be known as Carters to Sawley folk.

In the year 2000, the old Carters factory on Tamworth Road opposite Sawley All Saints Church, was demolished. Now a new luxury housing complex known as 'Churchfields' occupies the site.

Extracts from an article first produced in the 'Twitchell', by kind permission of Neil Aspinshaw.

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