Tag Archives: Buxton

When did They Start Bottling Water in Buxton? Part Two

Derbyshire Museums Manager Ros Westwood has been provided with more fascinating information about a well-known product to add to her original blog.

Last time I asked if anyone could help the museum with more information about the Buxton Mineral Water Company, and over the weekend a local researcher has done just that. Huge thanks to her for her help. Here is what she has found:

The first reference to Buxton Water being bottled and sold 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.


The Palace from the Broad Walk, Buxton by Eugene Lami 19th century

I like the idea of London city dwellers being able to have restorative drafts of Buxton Mineral Water more than 150 years ago as they went about their business, or served to them in their fine Victorian homes! Shame we’re not told how much this pint of water cost.

The other adverts were for St Ann’s Hotel in the Crescent, the Buxton Bath Charity and for the book: A hand-book to the Peak of Derbyshire and to the use of the Baths and Mineral waters of Buxton, by William Henry Robertson MD. It was advertised as available at all booksellers and at the railway stations. We gave you a flavour of this book previously.

I assume the water was being bottled in the torpedo shaped Hamiltons, which have the advantage of lying neatly top to bottom alongside each other probably cushioned by densely packed straw in cases or wicket baskets. I 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, since the trains had not yet got as far as Buxton at this date.


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. But a new company almost immediately springs from the ashes, when the Buxton Herald and Gazette of Fashion (yes, I typed that correctly!) minutes the first ordinary meeting of shareholders for the Buxton Mineral Water Company, under the chairmanship of W.S. Gandy, on 4 September 1873.

The minutes refer to the directors re-organising and systemising the business. Reading between the lines, this looks like a refinancing of the business. The chairman spoke eloquently of the quality and demand for Buxton Water, but if we come back to my interest, the bottling of it, he goes into detail:

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 this year, 1873, with a marble in the neck and a rubber seal, so Buxton Mineral Water Company was one of the very first licence holders.

W 234 front

The Terrace and Hall Bank, Buxton 1860

Finally we come to Tebb, whose bottles of Buxton Water with his name on them are also on show in the new exhibition in the Wonders of the Peak gallery at the Museum.

He is Samuel Henry Oliff Tebb, who was born in about 1864 in Spalding in Lincolnshire. In 1881, when he was about 17, the family had moved to Newark-upon –Trent, and he was working as a ‘bottler’. Clearly there was opportunity at Buxton and by 1890 he was in Buxton, mourning the death of his first wife, Fanny Redfern, whom he had married five years earlier. But not for long, because in June 1891 he married Annie Turner – is this of the marble working family? – and in the 1901 and 1911 censuses he is listed as residing at 10 Rock Terrace, Buxton and working as a ‘Mineral Water Manufacturer’. Can you ‘manufacture’ mineral water?

The source for much of this research was the British Newspaper Archive and the website www.findmypast.co.uk. If you are interested in these finer details of history and research, this is definitely a website you’ll want to visit: it will keep you amused through some of the nastiest of the coming winter days. Don’t forget, that there are public access computers at the museum and in the libraries and staff can show you how to use these tools if you are unsure how to get the best from them.

My thanks again to the researcher who helped on this enquiry. We do appreciate the additional information the followers of the blog can give us.



A Monkey’s Puzzle

On first moving to Buxton I would walk out to explore the footpaths behind Fairfield or take off along the lanes and bridleways by bike. After one such excursion I was describing to a colleague a particular short but severe, lung busting hill on the road from Peak Dale. ‘You mean Monkey Brew!’ was the response. I was intrigued.
P1010331I asked around but the most I got by way of explanation was that the name derived from the little monkey carved into a cornerstone high up on the end of Forest View Cottages part way up the bank on Batham Gate Road. I suspected there was more to the story.
Old Ordnance Survey maps suggest the row of cottages was built around the 1890’s, but why the monkey carving? Was it added for hill’s namesake or did the hill gain its name after the monkey was added? And what about the word ‘brew’? I had wondered if ‘brew’ had derived from ‘brow’ or even a mispronounced ‘Brough’, as much of Batham Gate Road follows the Roman route to Templeborough via Brough. A little enquiry revealed ‘brew’ or ‘bru’ to be a northern dialect term for hill. This explanation seemed to fit the bill but the monkey continued to niggle. Every time I dropped my bike into its lowest gear to trawl myself up that hill I would look up at that mischievous, curly tailed beast and curse … and wonder.
After a few years of not knowing I threw the question out there on social media and later the same day I got a response. Curiously, a fellow cyclist said that as a boy he used to live in ‘the house with the monkey’.
So thank you Jamie Stafford for your story, I do hope it is true because I love it. And here it is;
“Growing up in that house, we used to tire of the ramblers and passers-by that would knock at the door asking about the monkey. For years we had little idea why it was there. One day an elderly walker called by who used to live in the area and proceeded to recount a tale. He said that the chap who built the cottages was a raving alcoholic and ran out of money to finish the job to the tune of five hundred pound (a monkey). Back then it was shameful to borrow money so to ward off potential investors and employers the stone mason carved the monkey on the house to state that the owner couldn’t be trusted. ‘Brew’ could simply relate to ale: ‘Monkey Brew’ a bad debtor due to alcohol.”
Maybe someone out there lives in a house with a carving of another monkey, maybe a pony, a bag of sand or even a Lady Godiver! Do shout up if you do.

Time for a bit of Spring Cleaning


With the reopening of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery close on the horizon, the time has come to dust the cobwebs off the collection so that it can match the rest of the new shiny gallery.

I have been working closely with the museum’s bone material. In the picture above you can see that some of the pieces – like this hyena jaw bone discovered in Elderbush cave – were in definite need of a little TLC after being displayed for so many years in the old gallery. So, adorned with a set of brushes and little pieces of rubber sponge I began the task of patiently dabbing, wiping and brushing away the years to breathe new life into each of the bone objects.

Below you can see the after shot of my work, and evidently
a little bit of spring cleaning really does make all the difference!


Jasmine Barnfather MSci MA, Museum Attendant / Museum Assistant,
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Collections in the Landscape does Buxton

The team of Heritage Lottery funded project Collections in the Landscape have been blogging about their work for a few years now. Like the museum where they are based, the project focuses on the heritage of the surrounding Peak District, rather than just Buxton. However, they have thrown a spotlight on the town a few notable times recently; in case you missed any of them, here is a handy round up:

Back in June 2016, Assistant Collections Officer Joe Perry revealed The Oldest Building in Buxton.


In the following month, appropriately named Laura Waters shared some images from the museum collection of the curious local tradition of well dressing.

well dressing

Flowing with the water theme, Visitor Services officer and Buxton resident Ben Jones was delighted with an old letter from the town’s spa heyday.


He also delved deep into the past to find 7 buildings in Buxton that no longer exist.

girl's school

And, unless you’ve been stuck down Poole’s Cavern for the last few months, you can’t have failed to have heard about the museum’s latest acquisition. Just in case you did, here it is.


7 Buildings in Buxton That No Longer Exist

It is natural for people to affectionately remember places that were once part of their daily lives. A town the size and age of Buxton has seen many changes. Businesses have changed hands countless times and shop fronts have transformed with the fashions of the age. These seven buildings are just a selection of notable structures that have vanished from the landscape altogether.


Cavendish Girl’s School, Corbar Road

For nearly 300 years, Buxton had segregated comprehensive schools. The boys went to Buxton College on College Road, now the co-educational Community School. No longer required, the girl’s school was flattened in the 1990s and swiftly replaced by a housing estate. I did the first year of my English A Level here and I recall that having to cross the playground as a shy teenager through a swarm of young ladies was a minor test of courage. There was a well-established belief that the place was a psychiatric hospital before it was a school but I’ve never come across any evidence to back up this claim.

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Buxton Youth Hostel, Harpur Hill Road

Considering Buxton’s proximity to the Peak National Park, it seems peculiar that it doesn’t have a youth hostel. For many years, there was one at the bottom of Harpur Hill Road. The impressive Victorian building closed in 2002 and was demolished not long afterwards so I assume that it needed repairs beyond the means of the YHA.


Empire Hotel, Park Road

The Empire Hotel was essentially a failed business. There was nothing wrong with the original turn-of-the-century vision; a majestic palace for 300 wealthy guests to stay in the heart of one of England’s most beloved spa towns. In 1901, however, no one could foresee the advent of two world wars and the Empire never got its anticipated amount of clients. It became a depot for Canadian soldiers after the First World War and was wiped off the face of the map after falling into disrepair in 1964.

HPC inside.jpg

High Peak College, Harpur Hill

This windswept fortress of higher education opened in 1966 and was demolished only forty years later when it was replaced by the University of Derby which occupies the undeniably prettier Devonshire Dome. Despite its short lifespan, High Peak College is fondly remembered by its former students who came here to study subjects as diverse as welding, catering, hairdressing and Judo. The decision to put a college on the remotest edge of Buxton at the top of the enormous summit of Harpur Hill was an interesting one and its students faced a challenge just to get there, although it did offer residency for the hardcore few.


The Picture House, Spring Gardens

Films are shown regularly at the Arts Centre in the Pavilion Gardens but it seems a pity that a town the size of Buxton doesn’t have a full-time cinema. A few have come and gone, most notably the Picture House at the end of Spring Gardens, which was condemned in the 1980s. I recall queueing up to see Ghostbusters when I was a teenager, hardly able to contain my excitement but generations before me will also have fond memories of this place all the way back to the early 1900s.


Market Hall, Market Place

The Market Hall is the only location on this list to have been unintentionally lost. Some modern day residents have questioned the logic of running an outdoor market in the one of the coldest and wettest place in the UK. Many years ago, they enjoyed the luxury of an indoor version until it burnt down in 1885. This rare photograph is a sombre vision of the traders whose livelihood went up in smoke. It’s curious to modern eyes that the photographer, B.W. Bentley, has gathered them all together to pose amongst the ruin but it remains a powerful testimony to the human cost of a tragic event.


Milligans, Spring Gardens

After working at Buxton Museum for nearly twenty years, it seems that the most affectionately remembered of all local shops was Milligans, founded in 1846, demolished in the 1970s and later rebuilt: Argos currently occupies the spot. E.C. Milligan’s Drapery and Milliner’s (hat-making) shop, to give its full title, is remembered by older residents who tearfully recount tales of how magical it was to visit, often compared to Grace Bros. in 1970s sitcom Are You Being Served? Apparently, there was a gentleman “floor walker” in charge of the shop and money was sent upstairs to the accounts department in an air tube! This photo was taken around 1940 and it is interesting to note the colonnades that once protected visitors from the elements for the entire length of Spring Gardens.

These black and white photographs are from the collection of J.R. Board who had a photography shop in The Quadrant in Buxton from the 1920s to the 1970s. Buxton Museum cares for some of the collection, which provides an invaluable insight into the history of the town. If you wish to reproduce any of the images, please contact buxton.museum@derbyshire.gov.uk. There are many more to see on www.picturethepast.org.uk