Submitted by bob on Thu, 03/31/2022 - 20:43

A week of hard labour has paid off.

good_hoard.jpg, by bob


Ginger surprise

.jpg, by bob



These salt glazed stoneware bottles are a first for me, does anyone out there know what they contained?. Another first for me was after a long hard search,emerging from the jungle onto the path looking like Worzel Gummidge and smelling like the Creature from the black lagoon, passers by usually give me a wide berth but today I was approached by lovely, fit looking Lady in lycra ( my first thought was that she felt pity and was going to throw me a couple of bucks!) who engaged me in conversation about my activities, and genuinely seemed interested in my obsession with fossicking for old bottles!!!!.....Wonders never cease!

a.jpg, by bob


A lot of late 19th/early 20th century specimens here. The white bottles, along with the tall, two-toned one in the back, probably held ale or porter (don't think they drank much lager back in those days). There's a spouted master ink, the contents of which would have filled countless letters and postcards. There's a wide-mouthed blacking bottle too, next to what looks like a 'tiger whisky' with its hourglass-shaped neck. The emerald green bottle next to the ginger beers looks interesting. I wonder whether it's a chutney bottle? It certainly has the shape of one. The dark green one to its right appears to be a Watson's lemonade, but how about the amber crown top at far right- could that be a Schweppes ginger beer from the 50s? 


Here's some snippets from p.4, The China Mail, 1902-08-08, which might shed light on precisely when Watson's introduced ginger beer to the market:

Watson's withdrew from the Philippine market in 1910. All of Bob's ginger beers have 'Hong Kong ,China & Manila' printed on, so my guess is that they're from the period 1902-1910.

Source: p.4, The China Mail, 1902-08-08

Thank you Jeff,

Thank you for your input, I thought the white stonewares held Ale or beer, found many spouted inks before ,this particular one was made by Lovatt and Lovatt ,Langley Mills on the Derbyshire Nottingham border.The blacking bottles are relatively common and the ones I have found come in two sizes (113mm to 165m.), none of mine have any makers marks on them so have no idea of their origin. Was aware that the hour glass shaped bottles where probably some sort of Chinese alcohol, but did not know that they are reffered to as 'Tiger whisky', The dark green is a Watsons lemonade, I have seen the clear glass version too, It's hard to find them without damage.The amber one on the far right is a 50's Ginger beer, to be honest considering their relative young age I havent found many of these.The large two - tone bottle was a first for me . It's 250 mm tall and has an internal screw type thread for a vulcanite stopper (never found any of these either).Any idea of the date on this type of bottle?

Have come across many usually broken stoneware beer bottles made by Murray and Co Glasgow  1868 to 1897 and some made by Frederich Grosvenor, Glasgow 1826 to 1868!!. Theses bottles in Hong Kong were most likely consummed by British squaddies, and they were probably broken on purpose before discarding,I believe this, because at one point in my life I worked with some old service men who once issued with anything new , uniforms ect, had the habit of tearing up their old uniforms or whatever was being replaced before discarding.When I questioned this, they would mutter something about denying the enemy!!!. Old habits die hard I suppose.

The green bottle is a mouth blown ( in a mould) and has 5 Oz on its base, so your guess that its a chutney bottle seems plausable.

Thank you Jeff, I have much to learn and thanks to people more knowledgeable like yourself, I think I'm slowly getting there


"Fossicking"-- now that's a new one for me! Nice going but careful there are no UXBs left over from WWII! Haha.

Amazing how they remained unbroken all those years.  How did you you ever manage to find them, must have taken a lot of searching even if little bits of them were visible among hte dirt and vegetation!

Like Bob, I left Hull - although I suspect long before he did.  In the late 1940s and early 1950s I recall seeing some Victorian shops and terraced houses around where 76 Porter Street stood. They must have survived the heavy bombing that Hull experienced during the 1939/45 war. However, I do not recall a chemist's shop or small factory by the name of Owbridge surviving until that time.  Most of the chemist shops in Hull and throughout the country sold their own cough cures as well as ones for upset stomachs.  For coughs the mixture was nearly always of ipecac (Carapichea ipecacuanha plant) and a small amount of tincture of morphine to suppress the cough.  Chemists were licenced to use the morphine (a derivative of opium) provided it was in a very small dose.  For stomach upsets, the morphine was mixed with some kaolin (reputedly to line the stomach).  Both medicines  were readily available and certainly worked.  In Sutton, our local pharmacy sold their versions as 'Fanthorpe's Mixtures'.  Chemists were aware of the addictive nature of morphine and kept an eye open for any 'bulk' or too frequent purchases, but no doubt some people managed to buy whatever they wanted by touring the shops!  These medicines were definitely available in England until the 1990s, but I suspect that the large pharaceutical firms were making it increasingly difficult for the independend chemists to acquire the tincture of Morphine.  Additionally, chemists were rapidly moving away from the chore of making their own pills, potions and medicines, preferring to stock and sell the well advertised commercial brands.  

Greetings fellow Hullensian!

Appreciate your reply.  Mr Owbridge's firm outgrew its premises at 76 Porter St and bought a new site on Osborne St near the corner of Midland St in 1894.   I'm guessing that was many years before you were born and that's why you wouldn't remember seeing Owbridges chemist on Porter St! 

Walter Owbridge died in 1903 and then his nephew took over.  In 1969 Owbridges was sold to Organon Laboratories Ltd.  Two years later they closed.....  And that was the end to Mr Owbridge's Lung Tonic.  

When I posted From Hull to HK, I thought that would be the end of the story, but I was wrong.  Every Sunday I speak to my parents (my father is now 87 and mother 85) and I told him the story of finding the bottle.  When I mentioned the location of Mr Owbridge's pharmacy at 76 Porter St, there was a pause on the line, and my father said "Porter St!  I was born on Porter St ". My father is suffering from dementia so at first I doubted his claim but then I heard him call to my mother,  "Get my birth cetificate, luv".  A few moments later, my dad, reading from his birth certificate, said "Number 2 Brisbaine Terrace, Porter St"

Think I swore, before I fell off my chair!

Gave me smile that lasted all day.



Hi Jennifer,

You would be surprised how many bottes that I find are literally lying on the surface

inanimate objects can move! Most likely due to heavy rain, land slips, rooting by wild animals ( boar, porcupines ect)


I had never heard of it either until an Australian mate mentioned it. Used a lot down under, only an aussie could make a word like 'seaching' into something that sounds rather rude! Well aware of UXBs, have called the EOD in on many occassions