Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Digging up Margate - Barrett & Co bottles.

During the late 1890's up until the first world war our corner of East Kent stretching as far as Herne Bay, Canterbury and Deal supported as many as seventy mineral companies of all sizes supplying the huge number of visitors to the area . As mentioned earlier the Margate mineral water trade was dominated by three families, the Reeve"s, Harlow's and Barrett's. In a previous item I mentioned M.J. Harlow who in the 1924 was bought out buy the rival Barret & Co who moved production to the Addiscombe Road site.
George Barrett like Michael James Harlow first appeared as a mineral water manufacturer in the 1978 trade directory with Barrett believed to have set up earlier in 1874 at 59, Eaton Road, Margate.

Barrett & Co offered a range of products supplying private customers a case of a dozen from his list for 2s 6d. The company supplied Hotels and had a contract to supply the Paddle Steamers which most likely explains why Barrett bottles are found far and wide along the coast as far as London. It is also worth mentioning that over the years most of the bottles intact and pieces I have found in the sea just happen to be a Barrett.

Barrett used every design of bottle available at the time and there are many varieties bearing the Barrett name. However, the embossment even though heavy was very plain and utilitarian with no emblem or crest just plain Barret & Co Margate.

Over the years I have seen many varieties and the most interesting being the large flagons on display at Salmestone Grange which are exceptionally rare. The Margate Museum has a collection which was donated to the museum by the general public of which many were found in local cellars and back gardens, but these tend to be of the Hiram Codd design (the one with the marble). I also donated to the Margate Museum collection a small embossed conical bottomed Hamilton which was found under floorboards in a house in Helena Avenue during renovation which I bought at a boot fair for 50 pence.

Today many Barrett bottles are still available at collectors fairs and occasionally on ebay. But that is nothing compared what is buried in Margate at present. The Eaton Road site is prime, as it backs onto the Dreamland site which is built on infill. There is nothing to be found on the Railway Embankment side as the railway embankment was constructed in 1845 before Barrett was in business. However, the Dreamland site and the old laundry and the land leading up behind where Sphinx, River Caves and Roller Coaster once stood is all infill. When the block of flats were being built during the excavations Barrett bottles were found on the site. It also has to be remembered when the earthenware ginger beer bottles were stopped being used in the 1920's due to hygiene reasons and cost. They were stopped being used on mass virtually overnight and disposed of, the easiest and cheapest point of disposal being the land behind Dreamland.

On another point when the land of the old Bowketts site was being redeveloped many old ginger beer bottles from the Ozonic Ltd , Westwood Road were found in a pit and unfortunately ended up as hard core. Which does prove a point.
The advertisement pictured is from page 82 of Kent bottles ISBN 1-812489-18-8 which is a excellent read on the subjectof local bottles, especially the small rare Ramsgate and Broadstairs companies.

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