Medicinal drinking water from Matlock Bath's springs was, for several
centuries, acknowledged as beneficial to health. Mary Whittaker
(1845 - 1920) sold Matlock Bath's water in a slightly different
way - she was an aërated water manufacturer. Mary was the
Whittaker of Whittaker's pop, "Tordale"
and the bottling plant on Matlock Bath's Dale Road.
She was born on 26 March 1845 and christened at Bonsall on the
11 May, one of the daughters of John and Priscilla (nee Carpenter)
Wheatcroft who lived at Scarthin for some years before
moving to Matlock Bath.
Mary married John Whittaker, son of Saul Whittaker, at the
age of nineteen. Her husband came from Childerditch near Brentwood
in Essex. Their marriage took place at St. Werburgh's in Derby
on 27 February 1864 and they began married life living in Derby
where John was a policeman, but they eventually returned to live
in the Matlock district with their children
shortly after the 1871 census. John had a number of different jobs
before he married, including a spell in the 20th Regiment of Foot
which he joined on the 16th March 1958 at the age of 22; he possessed
a good conduct badge from his Army years. He was discharged over
four years later as he became unfit for service.
The family lived first at Starkholmes before moving close to the
Heights of Abraham when
John changed occupations and started to make and sell ginger
beer. By 1881 soda
water had been added to the list of items for sale. John Whittaker,
two of the couple's sons (William and John) and his father in law
were all employed in the family business in 1881.
Other sons joined as they became old enough.
In Kelly's 1876 and
1881 Directories John, as Manager, was advertising the Matlock
Bath Mineral Water Co. Unfortunately, like so many small traders
reliant mostly on summer trade, the business encountered problems
and in 1883/4 the Company was struck off the Register of Joint
Stock Companies and dissolved. Not
that the announcement seems to have done any lasting damage as
Mary seems to have taken over after this point, dealing with the
public face of the business such as advertisements placed in the
registering their Trade Mark (shown below) or dealing with various
applications to the local courts. However, according to later census
returns, when they were living at Derwent House in the Dale, John
was still running things.
Interestingly, during a 1901 court appearance Mary stated that "her
husband worked on the premises but had no interest in the business".
At the time she held an Excise wholesale license to sell beer and
stout in casks but wanted to sell her products in smaller quantities
as there was a demand for that. She hoped to sell it in six half
pint bottles and pledged that she would not sell either in jugs
or draught. She had erected premises for bottling purposes at
a cost of £400 and was the only bottler in the Matlock Bath
district. There was no facility for drinking, and no bar or counter
for serving drinks. Nevertheless, her application was refused.
Derwent House had been extended. Mary had also run the Dimple
Stores for a time; her application for an off licence there had
been granted in 1890.
Despite the velvet gown and beautiful lace collar in this photograph,
Mary Whittaker was unafraid of hard work and the family say she
drove the delivery dray. Mary is also often listed as a boarding
house keeper, which was a fairly common business for people to
run as a side-line to perhaps boost their income.
John Whittaker died in 1904, aged 71, and Mary continued in business
assisted by some of her sons and eventually the brand of "Tordale"
came into being. It was difficult for her during the First World
War as two sons, Arthur and Ernest, enlisted. If a third son, Oswald,
had joined up then she would have been forced to close part of the
Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield
Herald, 02 May 1885
MATLOCK BATH MINERAL WATER WORKS
It recently come to my knowledge that some
person or persons have maliciously circulated amongst my
customers a report asserting that I use the water from the
River Derwent for the manufacture of Aerated Drinks. Such
report is entirely false, as I have the sole use of a Mineral
Spring emanating from the Heights of Abraham. I hereby give
notice that anyone furnishing me with information that shall
lead to the conviction of such person or persons will receive £1
Mary Whittaker Proprietress
April 13th 1885
Notice inserted in the local press refuting malicious
rumours about the water quality, 1885 (copy of).
Note that the business changed its name after the original company
was struck off.
Not everyone thought the bottling plant's buildings enhanced the
Dale. At the beginning of the twentieth century J. B. Firth wrote: "Matlock
and Matlock Bath are steadily being ruined ... for a few yards,
Matlock Dale is unspoilt, but we no sooner pass round the bend
[just past High Tor] than we are saluted by the brick chimney
of some paint works, while just at hand is is a manufactory of
some ginger beer, and a little way beyond is the familiar reek
of gasworks." Whatever
the merits of the buildings, the businesses provided employment
for local people. However, the paint works certainly did spoil
things as the colour of the river changed!
Mary died on 15 September 1920 is
buried in the same grave as John at St. Giles' church.
Whittakers pop and "Tordale" Lemonade outlived them both
and the business they had worked so hard to keep going continued
on Dale Road until the early 1970's. Mary sold the business before
she died and it was reported that Whittakers (Matlock Bath), Ltd.,
had been registered on 18 August 1920 with "a capital of £20,000
in £1 shares, to acquire the freehold premises in Matlock
Bath, known as Derwent House, and shops and works adjoining in
the occupation Mrs. M. Whittaker, and the goodwill of the business
carried on by her as a mineral water manufacturer and bottler of
beer and stout; to act as bottling agents for Bass & Co. Ltd.,
Worthington & Co.
Ltd and Guinness and Co. Ltd.".
In November, under instructions from Mary's executors, Hodgkinson & Son
advertised Derwent House for sale along with her household furniture,
her stock in trade of Blue John, Inlaid Black Marble and other items
she sold in her shop.
The Whittaker name lived on
The Matlock Mercury reported, in the edition
of 8 Jan 1966, that "Tordale Soft Drinks Ltd had been
purchased by an 'industrial combine' ".
In the 1970s the Ministry of Transport objected to
access onto the main road (the A6), although it hadn't caused
a problem before then. As the buildings could no longer be
used they were pulled down and hundreds and hundreds of old
bottles became available to collectors. Undoubtedly, J. B.
Firth would have been pleased that the bottling plant has
now been demolished. These days Whittaker's pop is still
in demand in a roundabout way as the bottles are regularly
to be found being auctioned on E-Bay.
On the right is a copy of the registration of the Trade
Mark registered by Mary Whittaker, Matlock Dale, Matlock
Bath, Aërated water manufacturer, in Class 44 (Mineral & Aërated
Waters, Natural & Artificial), No.41,575 on 17 Dec 1884.
The original is about 1½ inches (about 4cm) square.
Small advert from the 1950's
hyperlinks are to transcripts elsewhere on this website):
 Mary was with her parents at the time
of the 1851 Census.
 Mary's parents were still living in
Scarthin in the 1861 census. They
had married in Hampshire in 1840. By the
1871 census they had moved to Matlock Bath.
 Parish registers. Matlock Bath's
register shows the baptisms of John and Mary's children and
the various occupations of their father. John Whittaker was
a Derby policeman in 1864 and a Starkholmes policeman in
1871. By 1876 he was a labourer, in 1880 he was a ginger
beer manufacturer and by late 1881 was a soda water manufacturer.
elder children were born in Derby; William was born at Pear
Tree, John at Normanton and Mary in Derby (this information
from the 1871 census and GRO records).
 WO97 Chelsea Pensioners British
Army service records 1760-1913. No 113, Private John Whittaker.
 John and Mary Whittaker were living
in Matlock Bath in the 1881
Mary's parents were also in the village - see their
1881 census entry.
 See John Whitaker's [sic]
name in Kelly's Directory,
1876 (under Matlock Bath Mineral Water Co.). He also advertised
in Kelly's 1881 Directory.
 London Gazette, see onsite extracts
for 1883 and 1884 (Matlock
Bath Soda Water, Lemonade, and Aërated Water Company Limited).
 Mary Whittaker advertised in Kelly's
Directories of 1887, 1891, 1895 and 1899, 1908, 1912 and 1916.
Census entry and 1901
Census entry. John had died before the 1911 census.
 "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield
Herald", 31 August 1901. Annual Brewster
 "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield
Herald", 12 July 1890. Matlock Police Court, Licenses.
She also advertised their Dimple Stores business in Matlock in 1891.
 Beresford, Charles "The Bath
at War, A Derbyshire Community and the Great War" (2007).
Country Books/Ashridge Press. ISBN 978 1 901214 91 8
 Firth, J. B. (1908), "Highways
and Byways", pp.391-2, chapter sub-heading "A
Spoilt Paradise". See fuller
 Date of death extracted from Will
Calendars at the London Probate Department in London by the
web mistress. Mary's probate details are
on this website (scroll down the page to find her). Probate
wasn't granted on her estate until almost two years after her
MIs, Surnames W.
 "Derbyshire Courier",
28 August 1920. New Matlock Company.
 "Derbyshire Times and
Chesterfield Herald", 6 November 1920. Sale notice.
 Advertisement from "The Matlocks,
Derbyshire. Official Guide". Issued by
the Come to Derbyshire Association, published 1930s.
 Information researched by Colin