History of Aerated Water Manufacturers in
South Canterbury New Zealand
1864-1985 Part 1

Part 1

By: Jeremy T.G.Sutherland 1996


For centuries the benefits of natural mineral waters was apparent, especially those that contained "effervescence". During the Seventeenth Century, scientists attempted to artificially re-construct "fizzy water".

In England, the Rev Joseph Priestly conducted experiments with "fixed" air, and in 1768 he had succeeded in combining "fixed air with water to produce a manufactured mineral water. He achieved this by the action of vitriolic acid upon chalk, which produced carbonic acid, which in turn was absorbed in water under pressure.

In 1771 a Swedish chemist Tobern Bergman made what was probably the first commercial bottling of carbonated water. However, both Priestly & Bergman's processes and apparatus made an unviable business.

The man who achieved this was Jacob Schweppe, who was born in Germany in 1740. As a young man, he lived in Geneva, where he was a jeweler. Schweppe developed a condensing machine, which could impregnate water with gas. Schweppe joined forces with Nicolas Paul, also of Geneva who was an Engineer and M.A Gosse, a scientist. Jacob Schweppe, however, went it alone soon after and today the name of Schweppe "EST 1790" is still a prominent name.


Alexander Wilkie produced the country's first aerated waters at this plant in Eden Crescent, Auckland in 1845. This factory was to survive until 1964 when Grey & Menzies sold it to New Zealand Breweries Ltd.


JACOB LEVIEN, a Londoner who left England in 1853 on the "Royal Stuart" for Melbourne where he was involved in the timber trade. He found this unprofitable and in 1861 came to Dunedin where he managed a hotel "The Arcade " and manufactured aerated waters.

In 1863 Levien moved to Timaru where he set up the Provinces first aerated water factory on the "Great South Road, Rhodes Town", [near the Stafford Street and Woollcombe St corner]. In 1885 Levien moved his factory to "Le Cren's Terrace" [now The Terrace] a business that occupied the old drill shed.

Jacob Levien left Timaru in 1903 for Wellington and sold his business to James Young. Young continued to use the "Star of David" symbol of Leviens. Young sold the factory in about 1910 to J. Thomson [of the Dunedin firm of Thomson & Co]. The old Levien plant was closed in about 1920.

 JACOB LEVIEN  Great South Road, Rhodestown   1863-1885
 JACOB LEVIEN & CO  "S.C. Aerated Water Works", Le Crens Tce   1885-1903
 JAMES YOUNG &CO   Le Cren's Tce   1903-1910
 J. THOMSON & CO   Le Cren's Tce



JOHN BROWN BINLEY Was South Canterbury's second aerated water manufacturer. Binley was born in England in 1831 and emigrated to North Canterbury in the 1850,s. J.B. Binley first advertised in the Timaru Herald on 11 June 1864. He left Timaru in 1867 to run the "Point" Hotel, and in 1870 he set up his aerated water business again, this time in Temuka.

FRANK SLEE of the "Sportmans Arms" Hotel [now the Terminus] at Saltwater Creek, was manufacturing aerated waters in 1872 on the hotel premises. This operation ceased in about 1880.

GEORGE OSBORNE was another pioneer soft drink "Bottler"who operated in Heaton Street, Timaru. His operation was established in 1877 and appeared to close in 1881. However, Osborne's bottling store operation continued working until early 1900's, contract bottling mainly for the Timaru Brewery [J.Hole &Co].

CAREW &COMPANY an old established Dunedin aerated Water Company opened a Timaru branch of their operation in 1883. In about 1886 Carew & Co sold it to Thomas Williams, who was involved in the Phoenix Brewery in Browne Street. The Barnard Street factory was sold again only a year later to G. Hills &Company. Williams later moved to Wanganui where he was again involved with brewing.

G.HILLS & COMPANY first advertised in The Timaru Herald in January of 1887 stating:

G.Hills and Co.
Have bought Mr. T. Williams'
Aerated and Cordial Business Etc etc.

Note the address
G. Hills and Co
Aerated Factory Barnard St,

Hills sold his business to George Watts in 1896. Watts having left his original premises in Stafford Street, which he established in 1889. Watts continued operating on that site in Barnard Street until 1900 when he expanded his business into the former Trinity Church Building, a little further south on Barnard Street.

 CAREW &COMPANY   Barnard St, Timaru

 THOMAS WILLIAMS  Barnard St, Timaru

 G. HILLS & COMPANY  Barnard St, Timaru

 GEORGE WATTS  Barnard St, Timaru


LANE, CAMPBELL & CO another long established Dunedin firm of aerated water manufacturers who operated branches in Timaru. Lane, Campbell, traded in Church Street, [near the present National Bank] from 1883, and in 1888, under a new partnership in the style of LANE & KINGSTON, they moved their operation to 3 Beach Street, Timaru [in between the "Old Mill"and the Railway Line]. This aerated water factory closed in about 1892.

GEORGE WATTS One of the more well remembered soft drink and cordial makers of South Canterbury, was born in England in 1851 and came to New Zealand in the 1880's. G.Watts Watts established his first aerated plant in Stafford Street in 1889 and in 1896 purchased G. Hills & CO's factory in Barnard Street. These premises were however, inadequate and Watts moved further south on Barnard Street to the First Trinity Church. This arrangement was only to last for two years, for in June of 1902 Watts opened a new purpose built factory near the corner of Barnard Street and Woollcombe St, at 34 Woollcombe Street. The building still stands today [as Scott's furnishings]. George Watts then had times of particular success, so much so he had large financial interests in many hotels in South Canterbury. Watts was also the first aerated water manufacturer in South Canterbury to use the stone "Demi John" or crock for the distribution of his product. George Watts died in Timaru on the 2nd January 1920 while still at the helm of his company. The business was sold that year to Robert Garden.

C Watts

ROBERT GARDEN continued the business in the style of R. Garden and Company.Lemonade Bottle Garden also continued the "Sparking Glass of Fizz" in a diamond logo on bottles and demi-johns, earlier used by Watts. By 1926 the firm became a Limited Liability Company in the style of Bottle CapCORDIALS LTD, "Timaru Aerated Water Factory". This company was one of the last of the old aerated water & cordial manufacturers in South Canterbury to operate. In fact by 1958, it was the last in Timaru. Cordials LTD, like it's rival, Chittocks, was bought by the newly formed South Canterbury Wine & Spirit Company, in 1959. S.C.W.&S. being a Ballins New Zealand Breweries conglomerate.

 GEORGE WATTS  Stafford St  1889-1896
 GEORGE WATTS  Barnard St  1896-1902
 GEORGE WATTS   34 Woollcombe St  1902-1920
 R. GARDEN & CO.   34 Woollcombe St  1920-1926
 CORDIALS LTD   34 Woollcombe St  1926-1959

SHARPE BROTHERS were a large Australasian Aerated Water & Cordial Company who built factories in most sizable provincial towns in New Zealand. Sharpe's first set up in Timaru in 1908 at 47 Stafford Street [opposite the Carlton Hotel]. However, in about 1912 they moved south to 16 Edward St to Timaru's own "Leaning Tower Pizza which is still standing. In 1920 Sharpe Brothers sold to Frank Chittock.

F. CHITTOCK & SONS were, like George Watts, an identity amongst the local "Bottlers". Chittock's products were well marketed and widely available. The only takeover deals Chittock's become involved with was the purchase of the old Temuka firm of D.C. Clark's in 1954. However, only three years later Chittock's were taken over by Quill Morris Cowles.

QUILL MORRIS COWLES were a Christchurch company formed by the Wine & Spirit merchants Quill Morris, and W. Cowles & Co, Aerated Water Manufacturers. Q.M.C."Quality Must Count" soft drinks were well known in South Canterbury by the early 1960's.

In 1964 the parent company in Christchurch and the Edward Street Operation were bought by Ballins and [locally] South Canterbury Wine & Spirit Co. [S.C.W.& S was a Ballins Company]. Between 1964 and 1968 Coca-Cola Bottlers used the Edward Street site as a depot.

 SHARPE BROTHERS  47 Stafford St   1908-1912
 SHARPE BROTHERS  16 Edward St  1912-1920
 F. CHITTOCK & SONS  16 Edward St  1920-1957
 QUILL MORRIS COWLES  16 Edward St  1957-1964
 COCA COLA BOTTLERS  16 Edward St  1964-1968

J SHANNON & COMPANY Were a relatively short lived aerated water company for their time. Shannon's plant was situated at 32 High St [now part of the stock feeds plant]. The company was not considered a small operation, having a considerable brick factory and a large range of sodas and cordials available. Shannon's market was concentrated on Timaru.


It would appear J. Shannon established his business in about 1924 and was closed in 1931. Shannon became financially insolvent and his business was sold to cordials L.T.D. for £1,000, Chittocks bought all Shannons bottles & syphons. The factory buildings were later used as a biscuit tin factory for J.R Bruce & Company

DE MALMANCHE AND COMPANY Were a wine & spirit merchant company who had a sideline in aerated waters. They were situated at 49 Stafford Street [Averis & Box Building] and were established in about 1920. Their bottles often bore the name "Malmanche" rather than "De Malmanche.

In 1921 a partnershiip was formed in the style of "De Malmanche Myers & Hedges". This arrangement remained until the firms closure in 1930.

This was formed by an arrangement between Ballin's Brothers and New Zealand Breweries Ltd in 1959. Ballins was an old Christchurch Aerated Water Manufacturer established by Bernhard Ballin in Byron St in 1878. Bernard Ballin's two sons formed a company earlier in the centuty in the style of Ballin Brothers. In 1936 the firm purchased the old Hickmott's 'Victoria Brewery' in nearby Waltham Road. The company then became "BALLLINS BREWERIES [N.Z.] LTD" They continued their soft drink business in Byron Street as well as brewing in Waltham Road.

Ballins Ginger BeerBallins LemonadeBallins Orange DD

Ballins ColaBallins PineappleBallins Lemonade
Labels from 1960's

In 1959 New Zealand Breweries Ltd bought Ballin's, part of the takeover deal was that N.Z.B. wouldn't be involved in softdrinks if Ballins closed their brewery. Also involved with the deal was the formation of a new set of companies, namelly the Canterbury Wine & Spirit Company and its South Canterbury counterpart, N.Z.B.would own 40% and Ballins 60%. When the N.Z.B. Timaru Branch Bottling Store in Victoria Street was closed in 1958, Ballins set up a soft drink factory in the building, which was opened in 1959. The soft drinks were under the Ballins label.

By 1975 the factory was considered obsolete, and Ballins was part of another merger, with COCA-COLA AND SCHWEPPES. A new purpose built plant was opened on Browne St in 1976. The old bottling plant was used for S.C. Wine & Spirit's spirit & beer storage.

Frostee Orange Label

The building was demolished with the old brewery in February 1996. The new Coca-Cola plant only lasted for ten years, when all of Coca-Cola's operations were run from Christchurch. 1986 was the last year in which South Canterbury had its own aerated water and cordial factory. The "Coke" factory was pulled down with the others on the corner of Browne & Victoria Streets in February 1996.


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