Tony Edge Starts Work.
I couldn’t wait to leave Wellington Road School although I enjoyed woodwork metalwork and Science.
I hated dreary maths learning log tables. It was thought at the time that Secondary Modern Students would not be able to obtain satisfactory GCSE results.
Staying on at school for another two years without any decent qualifications seemed pointless.
Easter 1959 aged 15. I joined my Father in his Soft Drink Business at Longsight. My starting wage was £7 per week.
After 4 years working for my Father I knew every aspect of the soft drink industry.
I could repair any machine and identify any part down to the last nut and bolt.
Around this time my sister Christine Edge left Culcheth Hall School Altrincham for a career in banking. My dad new the bank manager at Westminster Bank Longsight Christine was given an interview and was successful in winning a post with the bank.
Our day started around 7.20am leaving our house 2 South Meade Timperley we arrived Stockport Road Longsight around 08.00am.
Sometime around 1960 in late Autum Manchester experianced some very dense fogs.
Dad could not see to drive the car we had to walk in front of the car with lamps even then we could not tell where we were at times. The earry nosie of engines and not being able to see anything. Our clothes smelt of damp soot.
The daily routine started at 7.30am with Fred Eaton lighting the huge coke boiler to create steam for the bottle washer.
By 8 o’clock the driver salesmen would check the load of minerals needed for the day
The lads would help with the final loading Mr Payne would count the stock carried by the drivers.
We had an underground petrol tank and hand driven petrol pump Fred was given the task of filling the trucks with Fina low octane petrol 4 turns of the handle counted as one gallon.
My first job was to collect the empty bottles in the stables stack them near the bottle washer. Wash and sterilize the screw bottle stoppers.
My dad would decide what stock was needed for the day.
I would feed the bottle washer with 26ozs bottles 7ozs (splits). Or 5ozs (nips).
The bottle washer very efficient it used a solution of hot caustic soda with many different jets of hot and cold water.
My dad would inspect the bottles at the exit these dropped out of the machine onto a stainless steel conveyor belt the bottles along the belt towards the two Meadowcroft filling machines.
The Meadowcroft filling machines could be adjusted to take any size of bottles.
These machines also had a crown cork applicator.
It took some skill to remove the filled bottles especially the heavy 26ozs bottles and screw in the bottle tops, a special glove was used to hold the stopper and the bottle spun until the top was tight.
Boxes of mineral waters were then placed on a roller conveyor to the stock room for labeling. We had two different types of labeling machines the Purdy probably was the best it had two brass pots on either side and was filled with special glue it looked very similar to the old joiners pearl glue.
The summer months were very busy trade began fall off during the winter peaking again over the Christmas period.
Each winter all the machines were stripped down and overhauled I loved finding out how the machines worked.
Dad took great pride in the old Meadowcroft filling machines all the brass and bronze parts polished until they gleamed the paintwork restored to red, green and brown with Val spar paint.
All the washers’ leather cup washers and valve seats replaced.
The Meadowcroft representatives were amazed the old machines looked better than new.
Even wooden crates were refurbished banding and wires made good.
The big freeze in January it was bitterly cold the girls even stuffed newspaper down their Wellington's trying to keep their feet warm.
All the water pipes in the filter shed froze the minerals froze on the Lorries.
The water pipes were mainly lead even a blow lamp failed to defrost the pipes
I found half filling an 8 inch square metal can with turps or paraffin once lit the burning could soon defrosted 100ft of pipes.
Plumbers were hard to find and soon learned how repair and join lead pipes with a blow lamp and a wiper. And even replacing loose slates on the roof.
Bill Payne was my dads trusted manager he was in charge of the syrup room.
He developed a bad cough that did not seem to go away.
A visiting mobile X-ray unit visited town he went along for a routine check-up
A letter came back that he had caught TB.
He received good treatment but became rather frail and sadly retired after faithful service to Arthur Edge and his Grandfather for over 60 years he remembered the days before Lories he looked after the works during the war time shutdown. Bill Payne’s hobbies included showing and breeding Airedale Terriers his favorite holidays were taken at Butlins Isle of Man.
I was given the job of manager of the syrup room mixing all the drinks
It was a lovely job.
The syrup room was situated on the first floor a long room approximately 14ft wide by 30ft. On the left hand side a bench ran the full length of the room. Ten round white enameled 15 gallon pans were sunk into the surface with wooden lids.
On the right a bench held all the large bottles of essence the smell was very intense with fruit fragrance from all round the world.
Before I started in the syrup room sugar was boiled with water near the syrup room.
Dad managed to buy a second hand 200 gallon stainless steel syrup mixer we soon installed this into the syrup room this improved syrup production considerably.
The only hard part was lifting and tipping the 2cwt bags of Tate & Lyle's finniest cane sugar into the very tall mixer. Water was added to a density of syrup of 45 degrees on a Twaddell’s Hydrometer. Six pounds of sugar to 1 gallon of water.
Mr Payne left me with his his beautifully hand written secret recipe book
We made the best lemonade dandelion and burdock and ginger beer in Manchester.
Duckworths were our favorite essence for Lemonade
Duckworth’s are still at Trafford Park Only quite recently I spent an enjoyable afternoon looking at the records held for Arthur Edge Mineral Waters.
A typical recipe for Dandelion and Burdock
2 gallons of syrup 45 degrees twaddell
Saccharin 3 grs (the saccharin powder is insoluble in water and is dissolved in ammonia)
Tartaric acid 2ozs
Citric acid 1ozs
4ozs Swans dandelion and burdock essence
2ozs of sefoamain (for a head on the dandelion and burdock)
2 pints of Lamberts burnt sugar caramel (give a nice dark black colour)
35ppm of so2 preservatives.
This syrup was fed via tin pipes to the Meadowcrofts filling machine
The machine would mix 1.5flozs of syrup with 10 oz's of aerated water from