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Whittaker's Tordale Bottling Plant, Dale Road, Matlock Bath - Labels
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Label for Whittakers Lime Crush
"Tordale", Sparkling Lime Crush.
One of the products bottled by Whittaker's (Matlock Bath) Limited.
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Mrs. Mary Whittaker, Aërated Water Manufacturer

By the time these labels were printed the bottling plant had come a long way from its humble beginnings catering for those visiting the Matlock Bath caverns. The business was started by John Wheatcroft[1], a cavern guide, and began around 1870, probably in Upper Wood[2]. He began by selling ginger beer to thirsty visitors, and then added soda water as another beverage. By 1877 he was seeking additional staff, advertising for a bottler to work in the business[3].

John Wheatcroft was the father of Mrs. Mary Whittaker. When things took a turn for the worse it was Mary who took over; she must have been a very dynamic and hard working woman as it is said she was utterly determined to make it a success. The bottling plant was subsequently moved to the larger, purpose built premises on Dale Road.

By 1894 Mrs. Whittaker was producing "exceptionally high class Ærated Waters, Lemonade, Soda-water, Seltzer, Potass, Orange Bitters, Champagne Cider, &c., and made from the purest selected ingredients, with improved machinery[4]." The following year she claimed that Whittaker's Mineral Drinks had been pronounced by Eminent Analysts to be the best obtainable[5].

Two labels for Guinness, a brand bottled for Whittaker's (Matlock Bath) Limited at the plant on Dale Road.


Guinness' Extra Stout was produced under the company's Harp trade mark. By about 1910 Whittaker's were also bottling Bass's and Worthington's Pale Ale, Allsopp's Lager Beer and even Champagne Cider that could be bought in a bottle or syphon[6]. Their "High Tor" brand of soda water was short lived as there was already a company using that name. So they changed their brand to "Tordale".

The two brands below were bottled by Tordale Soft Drinks Ltd.

1. "Vimto", a blend of blackcurrant, cherry and raspberry.

Vimto label
Other Tordale products were a sparkling Dandelion and Burdock, a Lime Juice and Soda as well as a Pineappleade[6]. Whittaker's drays, and later their lorries, would deliver crates of these bottled drinks to local shops. If you returned the empty bottle to the shop you were refunded something like a penny. Maybe a little more. But at least it meant the glass bottles were reused.

2. Kitty Kola was also bottled under licence.

Kitty Cola label
The cheeky kitten licking his/her lips was very appealing. It is said that there were legal threats by what is today a very well known brand, hence the "kitty" part of the brand name[6].

There is more information about Mrs. Whittaker's businesses in Matlock Dale.

The Bottling Plant

Whittaker's Siphon
& Codd Bottles
Long Tor Cavern

Matlock Bath
Today (4)

Labels in the collection of and provided by and © Ken Smith.
Image scanned for this website and information written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] Census information about John Wheatcroft is available on this site: the 1851 Census | the 1861 census | the 1871 census | the 1881 census | the 1891 census | the 1901 census. Also see Wills, Surnames W.

[2] Reference to him selling ginger beer have been found in newspapers dated 1870 and 1871.

[3] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 29 March 1877.

[4] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 14 June 1894.

[5] "ibid", 12 April 1895. Part of an advertisement for what she was still calling, somewhat implausibly, the Long Tor Roman Fluor Spar Cavern. There is no evidence that the Romans ever inhabited a cave near the river in the village! But it drew in the tourists, which were vital for her trade.

[6] Information extracted from an advertisement published in Julie Bunting's"Matlock and Matlock Bath", (2002) Tempus Publishing Ltd., ISBN 0-7524-2455-6. There are more bottle labels shown in this book.