The Brewing History of Alresford!

The Alresford Museum, run by the New Alresford Town Trust, has updated the exhibits on view in their display cabinet in the Alresford Library: this now features various storage jars, flagons and bottles – as used by the breweries and businesses in Alresford over the years.

Prominent amongst this display are stone and glass bottles bearing the name of Batchelor’s Soft Drinks, of Alresford and Alton. Frederick Charles Batchelor established this business in Alresford in the 19th Century, and in fact his ginger beer won a Gold Medal at the Great British Brewer’s Exhibition of 1901.

Mr Batchelor always claimed that his ginger beer tasted so good because of his secret recipe: in fact it is still a secret, because he didn’t even tell his family, and took it to his grave! It has always been assumed that the secret was in using the pure chalk-fed water from the local springs around Alresford, but he won the medals to justify the claims!

Operating from number 49 at the bottom of Broad Street, Batchelor’s lemonade, mineral waters and ginger beer was delivered in the 1800s by horse and carriage as far away as Basingstoke: the lemonade was sold in marble-stoppered Codd bottles – hence often referred to as “Codd’s Wallop” – and several are featured in this display in the library. The ginger beer was sold in earthenware containers, various styles of which are also on display, labelled as produced by Batchelor’s, W H Twine of Old Alresford, and Hunt and Co, of West Street, Alresford. Mr Batchelor in fact introduced the first motorised vehicle to Alresford, when this van was introduced to speed up his delivery service!

Earthenware bottles from Alresford makers

Earthenware bottles from Alresford makers

The display has bottles owned by the Alresford Museum, plus many bottles on loan for the display by local collector Darren Goodley of Bishop’s Waltham. Other items include jars of cold cream and medicines from suppliers in Alresford, and also a rare whisky flask – a type known as a “pumpkin flask”, which is labelled as from the Swan Hotel in Alresford. More modern bottles, still full of beer, have also been given for the display by the current local bottlers, the Itchen Valley Brewery! With Alresford having a history of so many public houses, these are also identified in a display of photographs.

Bottles with marbles as stoppers, and the Swan Hotel bottle

Bottles with marbles as stoppers, and the Swan Hotel bottle

The Alresford Museum intends to update the display cabinet in the library on a regular basis, with items of local historic interest, at approximately three month intervals.

For more information please consult the NATT website, http://www.towntrust.org.uk

2 responses to this post.

  1. I remember Batchelors well, two premises below my grandads bakery in Broad Street. I was a ‘naughty boy’ in those days as I used to pinch the empty bottles and smash them for the glass marble stoppers in the neck. Playing marbles was a popular pastime in the Dean school at play-time.
    Does anyone have any history of Ameys brewery? My grandad White worked for them as mentioned in my story ‘The drayman’ and in photos of The Dean Arms it appears to be owned by Ameys.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Karl Borges on February 24, 2017 at 10:38 am

    I found a small clear green glass bottle in our Bishops Sutton garden today marked BATCHELOR ALRESFORD. Broken neck unfortunately. Probably a soft drink.

    Reply

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