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Colwall Bottling Works



NGR 75702 42679
Site Number: C49
By Bruce Osborne and Cora Weaver (C) 2012
Area 0. Malvern Hills Outlanders
Malvern Hills, England


Location: Formerly in the front yard of the Colwall Bottling Works, near the reception door.
Description: a water feature comprising a stone block with bottle carving.

The Stone Bottle Fountain
 
In 2004 the Three Counties Showground was looking for a contribution to the Chelsea Flower Show later that year. It was decided that a fountain would be an ideal submission and a suitable design was drawn up by engineer Bob Powell. The project progressed with the bottle sculpted in a block of York stone weighing nearly one ton by Darren Bennett at stonemasons Ben Davis Ltd in Hylton Road, Worcester. At a height of 3ft 6in and a width of 2ft 6in the sculpture took three weeks to complete and was then taken and installed at Chelsea. After the show it was installed in an appropriate spot - at the bottling works built in 1892 - and sparkled its first jet of water on 13th August 2004.

The Malvern Water Bottling Works
 
The Bottling works at Colwall are the longest remaining continuous bottling facility around the Malvern Hills. It was built by Schweppes in 1892 next to the Great Western railway line so that empty bottles were easily transported to the site, and full bottles easily taken away. This late Victorian works has many of its original buildings intact and is a rare survivor of such an historic plant. Born in 1877, Mrs Emily Lewis of Colwall remembered that the site of the factory had been a large pear orchard with a buttercup field opposite. She recalled how the men who bored for water stayed at her home, and the excitement in the village when the factory was completed.[1] The stylish buildings were originally constructed from red local bricks with Bath stone dressings. Brosely tiles were used for the pitched roofs. Stuarts Granolithic Company laid the internal paving and the ornamental ironwork was by Messrs. Braun of Birmingham. Truefitts of London were the architects and contractors for the site were Josh. Wood & Son of Worcester.[2]

                                                                                         click image above for a larger version
The Tank House
 
The Colwall factory included a well and tank house which contained their water filters. The Tank House, as it is now known, is particularly interesting. It is a replica of the Pump House at Holy Well. The front was not visible from the road: it faced the railway and hills because access to it was from the factory, and because all the main exterior doors at the factory faced the railway. With a good pair of binoculars it is possible to see the facade from the southern end of Chase Road. The facade is practically identical to the Holy Well building as it used to look in the nineteenth century. The Holy Well building was built in 1843, based on a design from the spa of Baden Baden and the fourth building on the site.[3] John Parkes, former proprietor of the Holy Well building, suggested that the style resulted from the original architects visiting Austria and Germany in the nineteenth century in order to ascertain the most appropriate design for a building and how the spring should be contained within it. The Tank House was listed grade II on the 17th February 2011.

Schweppes, in their early days of bottling at Holy Well, presumably used the Holy Well building as a trade mark and in order to retain this right they constructed a replica at their Colwall site. Only the elaborate front of the Holy Well building was replicated. The Colwall site backs on to the road so the replica was originally viewed away from the road, from the hills, which explains why the tank house is apparently back to front. Facing the hills, it would have been seen by the hordes of sightseers admiring the magnificent views from the then new Jubilee Drive at the end of the nineteenth century. It was perhaps Schweppes' intention to have a public fountain in the tank house using a natural water source from the site. Despite extensive drilling at the end of the 19th century to establish an adequate water supply on site, reaching a depth of 978 feet, no source was found suitable for supplying the bottling plant. Some mineralised brine water was discovered when the Downton Castle Sandstone was reached but it was of limited value for Malvern Waters.[4] Schweppes were thus dependent on water supplies from elsewhere. Fortunately they were able to make an agreement with the wealthy Ballard family of Colwall to take water from their prolific springs but after October 1929, the Pewtriss Well, which, for aesthetic reasons, was renamed the Primeswell, became the chosen source.[5]

 
 
 
 
In November 1958 Schweppes sold their bottling works on Belle Vue Terrace in Great Malvern, because they were 'centralising their activities at other premises on the slopes of the Malvern Hills.'

More recently, in 1987 Coca Cola Enterprises took over the bottling at Colwall and the Schweppes Malvern Water brand. In 1992 Coca-Cola Schweppes produced a limited quantity of fine glass water decanters to celebrate 100 years of the Colwall bottling works. The design included an illustration of the Malvern Hills on the rear of the decanter that could be seen through the contents. The decanters are now rare collectors items and almost impossible to secure. There is one in Malvern Museum.

In March 2006 the Stone Bottle Fountain was nominated for the St Werstan Award for the enhancement of Malvern's water heritage. The scheme is run by Friends of Malvern Springs and Wells and celebrates St Werstan the Martyr, patron saint of Malvern Springs and Wells and founder of Malvern. When Friends were balloted the response was overwhelmingly in favour. The award was presented during the legendary annual coach tour in April 2006 and was the second site to enjoy such recognition.[6]

It was in 1987 that Coca-Cola Enterprises took over the brand and bottling at Colwall and sadly, 23 years later, in October 2010, the factory closed.

With the closing of the Malvern Water Bottling Factory at Colwall, there was concern for the future of not only the site but also the heritage artefacts. Friends of Malvern Springs and Wells in conjunction with Coca-Cola devised a plan to ensure local custodianship of the key items. One item of particular local interest was the Stone Bottle Fountain. The two and a half ton fountain was removed to a safe location pending installation on a suitable alternative site. Friends of Malvern Springs and Wells, working with the showground management and Alchemy Gardens implemented the plan for the fountain to be permanently sited at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern. The relocation was completed in October 2011 and thereafter the fountain is on display in a purpose built setting just inside the main south gate to the showground. Seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors, it is a fitting tribute to 160 years of bottling Malvern Water by Schweppes.
 
Following the closure of the bottling plant, Coca-Cola entered into extended discussions and consultations with the local community over possible re-use of the site. After one year, in spite of several possibilities there was no sustainable proposal. As a result the site was disposed of to developers and the intention is to develop it for housing. As a result of submissions to English Heritage by Cora Weaver the Tank House is now Grade II listed. It will be retained as a heritage feature of the redevelopment plan and there will also be a shop. The Bottling Works buildings were demolished in 2014 and we await progress with the creation of the new village. 

 
Illustrations:
1. The Tank House, a replica of the Holy Well building. The frontage measures 32ft and the depth is 13ft.
2. The Stone Bottle Fountain at Colwall in 2004 tended by Chrissy Ching.
3. Architects drawing of the original works. (courtesy Coca-Cola)
4.1930s packaging.
5.1970 advertisement. (courtesy Coca-Cola)
6. Malvern English Water. (courtesy Coca-Cola)
7. Coca-Cola & Schweppes celebration decanter - 100 years at Colwall 1892 - 1992.
 
Footnotes:
[1] Malvern Gazette, 10 March 1977.
[2] The Builder, 30 January 1892.
[3] Harcup, J W. 1992 The Malvern Water Cure, p.3.
[4] Richardson, L. 1935, The Springs and Wells of Herefordshire, p73-4.
[5] Simmons 1983 ????????????
[6] Friends of Malvern Springs and Wells Newsletter 23. August 2008.


 
 
 
The map alongside is a small section of our more comprehensive map of the area. For the complete map together with a description and history of this site see "Celebrated Springs of the Malvern Hills" (2012).
 
 
 
 
 
Click the statue to find out more about Schweppes and Malvern Water at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
 
The Stone Bottle Fountain was previously at the Bottling Works - to see the new location click on the panel below:
 
 
 
 
 
Click on Website below or the top banner to go to the DISCOVERY TRAIL INDEX of springs and wells.




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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION

 

Celebrated Springs of 
THE MALVERN HILLS
  

 

A definitive work that is the culmination of 20 years researching the springs and wells of the Malvern Hills, published by Phillimore. This is the ideal explorers guide enabling the reader to discover the location and often the astounding and long forgotten history of over 130 celebrated springs and wells sites around the Malvern Hills. The book is hard back with dust cover, large quarto size with lavish illustrations and extended text. Celebrated Springs contains about 200 illustrations and well researched text over a similar number of pages, together with seven area maps to guide the explorer to the locations around the Malvern Hills. It also includes details on the long history of bottling water in the Malvern Hills.





1) TOPOGRAPHICAL LOCATION:
Malvern Hills - arguably Britain's original National Park
2) LANDSCAPE:
Rural Village
3) INFORMATION CATEGORY:
A Spring, Spout, Fountain or Holy Well Site
4) MALVERN SPRING OR WELL SITE DETAILS:
St Werstan Award
4 SPLASHES - Well Worth Finding
Water Bottling - Past or Present
5) GENERAL VISITOR INFORMATION:
Access On Foot
On Private Property
Free Parking Nearby








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