Blake was a Gosport brewer who started with a brewery in South Street Gosport using the Royal Oak public house, next door to the brewery. Between 1810 and 1826 three of his five sons became brewers, and ‘Blake and Son’ existed by 1847. References to this Brewery can still be found on many surviving Gosport Pubs, including The Britannia Pub in Forton Road (above).
In 1772 Joseph Priestly found a way to make mineral waters artificially fizzy by adding carbon dioxide. They became popular as drinks for medicinal reasons in the 18th century. There were several producers of Mineral Waters in Gosport during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Mumby’s Mineral Water Company
Charles Mumby set up business in Gosport in 1849 as a chemist and manufacturer of mineral waters. His shop was at 47/48 High Street. His supply of water was a large bore hole in the yard at the back of the shop, which had rear access from North Street. At 345 feet he hit natural water in the chalk subsoil. He installed machinery to increase the production of natural ice. He produced famous soda water, ginger beer and lemonade, selling across the south of England. He supplied the Army and the Navy, receiving a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria. The manufacture of mineral waters continued at his original premises in the High Street, and an office was opened up at Portsmouth, first at 71 St George’s Square, then, from the late 1870s, at 34 The Hard. Charles Mumby was a Poor Law Guardian, a magistrate, a County Councillor for Hampshire, and sat on innumerable public and social committees. Charles retired in 1885 leaving the business to his son Everitt. It was floated as a company in 1898.
Mumby’s glass mineral water bottles, such as the Hamilton bottle above, have a distinctive anchor shape on them. The Hamilton, or ‘Torpedo’ bottle, was designed to prevent it from being stood up. This ensured that the liquid remained in contact with the cork so that pressure was not lost. This also meant that the contents had to be consumed before the bottle could be laid down again. The shape also aided the packing of the bottles in crates, keeping transport costs down. The bottles were heavily embossed with the maker’s details.
Everitt Mumby died in 1906 leaving the business to his son Cyril. Cyril was appointed Managing Director in 1907. He lived in Stanley House next to Holy Trinity Church. The business passed out of the family in 1939, when he died, but continued to trade under the Mumby name until the 1960s.
Read more here: Mumby
The last remaining part of the Mumby Mineral water Company is the building in Mumby Road, now used as Arthur’s Chandlery. The side wall and windows to Mumby’s factory formed part of Chapman’s Alley/Brewhouse Yard boundary.
The Mumby’s ephemera and objects that were on display in Gosport Discovery Centre’s Museum on the Mezzanine (no longer there) were resucued from the attic offices of this building by Museum Staff, when it was derelict and awaiting conversion to Arthur’s Chandlery.
Hobbs’ Stoke Brewery
Benjamin Hobbs founded the Dolphin Brewery in the early 1850s. His son William took over the business around 1870 including the Blue Anchor pub, which was next to the brewery. This was built around 1800 and changed its name to The Clarence around 1850. William had three sons, Henry, William and Ernest. Ernest became a wine merchant trading with an Off Sales Licence at 116 High Street. Henry and William bought the Stoke Brewery from William Johnson in 1882. H.J. & W.A. Hobbs’ ‘Stoke’ Brewery was north of Stoke Road at the site which is now south of Percy Road. The roar to the brewery became Elmhurst Road. It was in business until 1913 when it was sold to Portsmouth United Breweries and the Stoke Brewery was closed. It produced mineral Waters as part of its range.
Southwell’s Mineral Water Company
Southwell’s Mineral Water Company (Brockhurst Brewery premises) was in Brockhurst Road, opposite the King’s Head Pub, behind Thistleboon House. The original brewery was described in the Hampshire Telegraph of 1829 as a ‘valuable and extensive old-established brewery; with extensive beer and spirit stores, newly erected malthouse, a good water supply, carthouses, stables and piggery, a spacious yard with folding gates‘ Post 1861 the building were bought and used by Southwell’s Mineral Water Company.
Brockhurst Mineral Water Company
Southwell’s was taken over by the Brockhurst Mineral Water Company at the beginning of the 20th Century. It was in turn taken over by Mumby’s in 1965.
Biden & Company
Biden’s Brewery was in Seahorse Street Gosport. James Biden was the brewer from 1825. He leased the brewery but bought it and the adjacent Seahorse public house in 1838. In 1840 he acquired the Rose and Crown at Hardway. By the end of the1840s he had acquired 18 more houses, three of which were in Gosport, most of the rest were on Portsea Island.
He bought Town Field and laid out an estate covering Victoria and Albert Streets off Forton Road at Gosport. He then added a public house at each end, the Five Alls and Royal Marine Arms. His other Gosport pub was the North Star, formerly called The Traveller’s Joy. James and his family lived opposite the brewery but had moved to Bury Lodge by 1845 and then to Monckton House in 1849, which was built for him. His brewery in Seahorse Street became J. Biden & Company by 1877.
More Gosport pubs were added including The H.R.H. Prince Alfred in Clayhall Road, and the Blenheim in Queen’s Head Lane, which opened in 1866. James lived at Monckton House until his death on the 8th of October 1872, aged 69 years. His sons continued the brewery business. Biden and Co. Ltd came into being in 1896. Arthur and Vernon Biden sold the buisiness in 1918. The Brewery was bought by Sir William Dupree of the Portsmouth United Breweries but Herbert Biden continued as the brewer until 1921 when the business closed.
Today the facade of the old brewery buildings in Seahorse Street have been retained in modern housing and the name survives as Seahorse Walk. The old brewer’s house survives opposite.
The ‘Codd’ style of bottle, which had a marble as a seal, was designed in 1872 by Hiram Codd, a British soft drink manufacturer of Camberwell, London. It was made from thick glass to withstand internal pressure, with a pinched section which formed a chamber holding a glass marble. The pressure from the liquid inside the jar kept the marble in place against a sealing washer when the bottle was filled, upside down.
To open it you needed to strike the marble. This could be done using a special opener. These bottles were expensive to make and there was a refund given for the empty bottle when it was returned. A dilemma for children, the money or the marble?