British & Foreign Aerated Water Co. Ltd

Client

The British and Foreign Mineral Water Company, Glasgow, was founded in the mid-1860s by Ernst Alfred Schmidt (c. 1846–1906), an expatriate German from Saxe-Altenburg. 1 Although Schmidt later became a naturalised Briton, the firm retained strong German links. Using the contemporary prestige of German analytical chemists such as 'Liebig, Fresenius, Bunsen, Struve' (the last a German-Russian), the company advertised 'mineral waters for medicinal purposes' during the 1870s. 2 The Victorian interest in scientific health-treatments encompassed the curative ingredients of 'Carbonated Loch Katrine' and 'Selters' waters, of 'perfect purity' attested by 'Dr Struve's analysis'. 3

Their soft and non-alcoholic drinks found a ready market among Temperance and abstinence campaigners. The seventeen employees (in 1881) made 'Soda water, lemonade, potass water, gingerale, sarsaparilla' (sic), supplied in 'elegant and neat' syphons. 4 They won prizes at the Paris Exhibition of 1878, and at the London Health Exhibition in 1884, but thereafter downplayed the science, introducing novel flavours, such as 'pine apple punch'. 5 Among its Continental products, Schmidt had obtained the Scottish monopoly for Dutch Heineken Lager in 1886–7. 6

The firm occupied various premises in New City Road from 1868 until c. 1898, when they relocated to 22 Fleming (now Farnell) Street, Maryhill. 7 In 1903, Schmidt sold the business to Packham & Co., makers of 'table waters' and 'Olde Englische Ginger Beere’, who traded until 1951. 8

Schmidt’s family lived at 9 Oakfield Terrace (formerly Wilson Street; now Oakfield Avenue), adjacent to Glasgow University, from 1900 until 1908. 9 Neighbours there variously included the family of artist Bessie MacNicol, and historian George Eyre-Todd, author of The Book of Glasgow Cathedral and editor of Who's Who in Glasgow in 1909. 10

Notes:

1: Census data, www.ancestry.co.uk; statutory death record, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 4 June 2013].

2: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1873–4, Appendix, p. 169.

3: Lancaster Gazette, 6 July 1881, p. 1; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1880–1, Appendix, p. 221; 1881–2, Appendix, p. 201; 1882–3, Appendix, p. 204.

4: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1880–1, Appendix, p. 221; census data, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 4 June 2013].

5: Glasgow Herald, 3 June 1882, p. 1; 31 October 1884, p. 1; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1883–4, Appendix, p. 211; 1884–5, Appendix, p. 201.

6: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1887–8, p. 308; 1893–4, p. 320.

7: Glasgow Post Office Directories, 1862–1911.

8: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1904–5, p. 95; 1910–11, p. 525; Edinburgh Gazette, 5 June 1903, p. 589; 2 October 1951, p. 501.

9: Glasgow Post Office Directory , 1900–1, p. 856; 1908–9, p. 946.

10: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1900–1, p. 856; 1903–4, p. 882; 1907–8, p. 936; 1908–9, p. 945; Ailsa Tanner, ‘Elizabeth MacNicol (1869–1904)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edition, www.oxforddnb.com [accessed 7 June 2013].