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Last remnant of the lemonade factory?
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Last remnant of the lemonade factory?

This is the wall of Williamson's, at the corner of St Catherine's Place and East Road. If you peer at it you can make out the text



with my speculative bits in brackets.
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Picture added on 19 September 2007
Wow, I've gone past this wall nearly every day for most of my life and I've never noticed this!

[It's a Turin Shroud moment! I have to admit I only noticed it for the first time late May when I was campaigning in Kirkwall East. I walked right past it and made out a letter, and was forced to step back to see what it said. You don't notice it when you are driving!- Steven]
Added by Kevin Wooldrage on 19 September 2007
Spot on Steven ....I can even mind the whole wall.
Added by Peter Burges on 20 September 2007
Whilst awaiting confirmation of having passed my medical examination to join the Regular Army "1st Battalion - The Black Watch "RHR" I had the pleasure of working within this establishment. The Lemonade Factory was run by a lad called Ronald "Ronnie" Barnett who "if I might add" produced the goods through a mixture of good management and laughter. There were two other members of staff -a mother and daughter team - again their names escapes me. Sadly it was only a "part time" job as employment in Orkney was extremely scarce.
Added by Edward Borwick on 17 March 2008
Hello Edward:

Can you remember the names of the "mother and daughter" or anyone else who worked at or were associated with the establishment. My family (Falconer)is related to the "Gowans" who I think owned the factory.

Appreciate. Wilma in Vancouver
Anonymous comment added on 18 March 2008
Wilma - I really couldn't be certain but I have a strange feeling that the daughters name was Irene - I have no recollection of seeing any other workers. It was only a part time job for me, "lasted about 2 months" prior to my enlisting as a regular soldier.
Added by Edward Borwick on 19 March 2008
I think the Gowans referred, to owned Crystal Clear Products, the lemonade factory in Stromness, later owned by Herbert and Raymie Mowat, then John Steer.
Johnny and Nanny Gowans were the organizers of the first Shopping weeks.
Added by Fred Johnston on 20 March 2008
Hello Fred:

Thank you so much. That's correct the family lived in Stromness and to have these company names is a real breakthrough. Jemima (Bruce) Falconer--John Gowan's Aunt--was my G-G-G Grandfather's second wife. I have been tracing my family for a long time and knew that Jemima and run an aerated water factory in Stromness after returning to Orkney from Edinburgh and then Inverness. But, that's another story and I appreciate your input. Wilma in Vancouver
Anonymous comment added on 21 March 2008
Hello Edward:

Very many thanks for responding. Even the smallest bit of information is useful and often opens doors that otherwise would remain closed. Wilma in Vancouver
Anonymous comment added on 21 March 2008
Hello Fred and Edward:

Would any of your colleagues have old photographs of the factory or even better Johnny or Nanny Gowans? I have noticed the surnames of the possible subsequent owners of Clear Products in the on-going dialogue and also wondering if anyone might be able to add any information/comments. Also what were/are "Shopping" weeks.

Best from Vancouver, Wilma
Anonymous comment added on 23 March 2008
There is at least one photograph of Johnny and Nanny Gowans in the Stromness Museum. I could probably take a photograph and send it to you, but the best thing to do, is to contact the Museum, get them to scan the photo and send. Try [email protected] or [email protected] .
Added by Fred Johnston on 02 April 2008
Hello Fred:

Thank you so much for sending me this information about the photograph and I will contact the museum tomorrow and ask for a scan. I really appreciate the information. Also, as a result of your last information and also from Edward I have been able to track down some additional Gowan's records from Scotland's People.

Now this is a stretch, but would anyone have a photograph of Jemima Falconer nee Bruce, the Gowans' Aunt who was married to my GGG Grandfather?

I really appreciate your help. Best for now, Wilma in Vancouver
Anonymous comment added on 12 May 2008
Hello Fred:

I wonder if I could take you up on your offer? I have tried the contacts but alas no reponse. With thanks, Wilma in Vancouver
Anonymous comment added on 14 June 2008
I can't believe I have looked at this nearly every day for years! and never seen it! At the top of Wellpark Garden Centre is the water well that Gardens used for their lemonade.
Added by Jane Glue on 10 June 2009
Hello Jane:

This is fascinating. You mean that the factory used actual spring water for the lemonade? It is amazing how bits of information begin to put together an interesting picture. I really appreciate this information and if any other remembrances come to the fore, it would be nice to hear from you again. Regards, Wilma in Vancouver
Added by Wilma McC. on 10 June 2009
Did you manage to get any more info. on the Gowans?. Johnny and Nanny Gowans lived in a bungalow at the south end of Stromness called "Binga Fea". " Binga Fea" is a hill in North Walls, so the builder of the house might have hailed from there.
Added by Fred Johnston on 11 June 2009
Hello Fred:

Thank you for following-up with me. I was able to obtain some records of death of Johnny and Nanny using the leads that you provided for me. Unfortunately, there was no response from the e-mail addresses that you so kindly sent. But gradually things add up and so I appreciate this extra bit of information about where they lived. Anything at all that comes to mind is really appreciated as I'm always working to learn more about my family. Take care and once again, thank you very much. Wilma in Vancouver
Added by Wilma McC. on 13 June 2009
That is fantastic, Steven!!! I walk past there almost every day, and I never saw the letters until you pointed it out!!!!

Is this where the lemonade factory was, or is it just an advert for the lemonade factory on Queen Street? (Pictured on Canmore - just search for lemonade factory queen street and you will there)

Does anyone know when the lemonade factory started and when it closed down? (roughly)
Added by Ragnhild Ljosland on 30 August 2010
My sisterAnna worked in the lemonade factory with a lady called Bessy Ritchie fifty odd years ago.
Added by Liz Firth on 30 August 2010
I am not certain when the Gowans started the lemonade factory, but it continued on it's original site under the ownership of Herbert Mowat until about 1973/74 when it was moved to make way for the new Ro Ro harbour developments. John Steer moved the business to Cairston Road after that and it was subsequently owned by Charles Morrison.

[I assume this is Crystal Clear in Stromness? - Steven]
Anonymous comment added on 30 August 2010
I am pretty sure that the factory was started by Alexander Falconer and his wife Jemima (Mitchell Bruce) Falconer whose mother was from one of the Baikie lines. In addition to the latest information--that helps fill in all the blanks--Neil alerted me to his posting of the Crystal Clear bottle and label. Many thanks again. Wilma
Added by Wilma in Vancouver. on 31 August 2010
Who remembers Queen's Toast, forerunner of Irn Bru? Also, of getting money back on the empties.
Added by Barbara Johnston on 31 August 2010
You could buy pop from Johnny Gowans at the factory at cost price (threepence I think), with a reminder to bring the bottle back, and then return the bottle to one of the shops that sold Gowans drinks and get (I think) twopence for it.
'Pooth' Harcus, the butcher, owned the factory for a time, after Johnny Gowans, and some of the boys (not me of course) rather unfairly referred to his product as 'Pooth's piss-poor pop'.
Raymie Mowat ran the factory for quite a while. I sold him my bicycle.
Added by Ian Hourston on 31 August 2010
In my early school days I walked past Garden's Lemonade Factory every day,I lived in Cromwell Road for 11 years,I knew all the staff, the mother and daughter were Ivy Moodie and Irene who lived very close by in St.Catherines Place, next door to Capt.Herbert Sutherland, Capt.of the tug Salveda. I went to school with his son Norman among others. Added by Phil Brough.
Anonymous comment added on 01 September 2010
Phil Brough -
That is interesting! Was the lemonade factory on the site where the faded letters are (Steven's photo?)

Also: I am doing some research on the writer Chrissie Costie. Did you know her or any of her family? They lived at St. Catherine's Place up until 1931, and then moved to Willowburn Road. If you knew them, I would be very happy if you would share any memories
(Sorry, I don't know how old you are - You are maybe far too young to have known them?)
Added by Ragnhild Ljosland on 03 September 2010
Does anyone remember the drink Fergosade. Much better than Lucosade!! You got money for returning the empty bottles.
Anonymous comment added on 03 September 2010
Yes i remember it. Don't remember it being better than Lucozade though.
Added by Chris Shearer on 06 September 2010
Hid wis ca'd "ferguzade". Yur right hid wis fer better
Added by Sumteeik on 07 September 2010
I vaguely remember a drink called Ferguzade. Didn't like it much. Never cared much for Lucozade either, come to think of it. (But my most strenuous activity has always been the strenuous avoidance of strenuous activity, so I probably didn't need 'energy' drinks.)
Added by Ian Hourston on 07 September 2010
Yes! The Lemonade Factory was on this site until it was sold to Scotts Fish Shop, (Watson family) who cured and smoked salmon which they were famed for. Later on it was sold to Williamsons wholesaler and retailer who own it to this day. I am old enough to remember Chrissie Costie as used to deliver goods to her when I was a message boy at George Rendall and Co.Bridge St. All I knew about her was she was a spinster and a very nice lady. Added by Phil Brough.
Anonymous comment added on 07 September 2010
Phil - Thank you very much for sharing that memory! Did you deliver goods up at her house on Willowburn Road? Was "spinster and a very nice lady" the general impression that folk had of her, do you think?
Added by Ragnhild Ljosland on 07 September 2010
Chrissie Costie was a close neighbour to Earnest Marwick on Willowburn Road, who was a writer. She was also a friend of Robert Rendall the writer and poet who owned George Rendall and Co., Draper, Bridge St. She was a well respected lady who did a lot of good in the community.

P.S. Earnest Marwick and Robert Rendall were both mentors of George Mackay Brown the now famous writer. They encouraged him to go to Newbattle College which was under the directorship of Edwin Muir the famous Orkney writer and scholar. I delivered goods to Chrissie Costie and Ernest Marwick when I was a message boy at George Rendall's for 5 years in the early fifties. Added by Phil Brough.
Anonymous comment added on 09 September 2010
Ferguzade was bright yellow and the bottles were wrapped in matching cellophane and had yellow tartan labels. It was even more sickly sweet than Lucozade. Lipton's had an own-brand (Sunshine?) alternative called Glucozade, I think. Just thinking about any of them makes me feel ill.

[I recall that it was not a drink for weak stomachs, which was unfortunate as it was trotted out as a cheaper Lucozade alternative when you were ill. It made me sick just about every time! But it was one of these things like American Cream Soda that smelt great and lingered in your memory enough to make you try it again periodically. See also Vimto and Tizer. Vimto was a great Costies staple - Steven]
Added by Paul Sutherland on 10 September 2010
Phil - Thank you. Yes, it must have been great for them all to meet up at Westermill and discuss their latest writing and literature and folklore and history and everything that they were interested in! I would have loved to be friends with them all. In the archives I found some of Chrissie's letters to Ernest and Janette written when they were away at Newbattle, and there she speaks about George Macaky Brown and Robert Rendall and other mutual friends of theirs. She often mentions Embla, which I think must be Embla Mooney. She also mentions Rosemary (who has a car) and Jane and Alison, but I haven't found out who they were yet. Do you know?

I am trying to get an impression of Chrissie's personality. People often describe her as quiet and a bit shy, but yet in her short stories she doesn't seem like that at all. Thank you for telling me that she was a well respected lady who did a lot of good in the community. That helps me get an impression of her. Can you remember any examples of things she did for the community?

Thanks again,

Added by Ragnhild Ljosland on 11 September 2010
In southern Arabia with the RAF in the 1960s I found Vimto cordial was a great favourite with the Arabs. I even acquired a taste for it myself. It improved the flavour of the local water.
Added by Ian Hourston on 12 September 2010
Ragnhild will be interested to learn that I was approached last year by the School of Scottish Studies Archives to agree the publication of recordings made at Embla Mooney's home. Participants were my aunt, Embla, Chrissie Costie and Nan Duncan. They were reminiscing about childhood games.The recordings, of which I now have a copy , were to be included at www.tobarandualchais.co.uk I remember the 3 ladies met every week and studied a number of languages including Norwegian and Icelandic.

Phil Brough and I were friends when we both lived in Cromwell Road.

Added by Alec Mooney on 22 March 2011
Alec - That is fantastic! Too late to include it in my book about Chrissie, though, because it is in the printing press at Hatston as we speak. But thanks anyway and I will definitely try to find it at that website. Thank you very very much for telling me about it!

Re my last post: I discovered that Rosemary is Rosemary Jackson who I believe left Orkney in 1954 - not sure what she did after that. Alison is Allison Tait (nee Leonard) who was very talented and I have included quite a bit about her in the book. She seems to have been a very interested and interesting person. Jane is still a mystery.
Added by Ragnhild Ljosland on 22 March 2011
Ragnhild - I'm glad to have been of a little help. I remember Rosemary Jackson was an art teacher at KGS.Later she wrote books for girls of early teenage years some of which were based in Kirkwall. She married a man called Innes who,I think, became Lord Lyon King of Arms. My recollection is that their home was in Aberdeenshire, possibly on Deeside. Not quite sure who Jane was.
Added by Alec Mooney on 28 March 2011
That is interesting about Rosemary Jackson! I will have to try and chase up her books now.
Added by Ragnhild Ljosland on 28 March 2011
Gardens lemonade factory- Yes the water to make the lemonade came from a spring still located next to my mothers house at Wellpark Garden Centre, Donald still uses the water in the garden centre for watering and in the cafe, it hasnt passed any 'special' tests so you can't advertise it as extra healthy! Nowadays the spring has a proper lid ,etc but when i was young, my father used to get on his swimming trunks and climb down the stone sides, I thought he was cleaning it? Quite a few people's relatives of folk who were poorly used to come and get bottles of water for them to drink. The council garages which are next to my mothers house, opposite Bobby Halls hairdresser, I think there was another building that belonged to Gardens?

Ernest Marwick was a great friend of my fathers, he was a keen photographer and took a set of photos of me and my sister in the Willows, I think my parents asked him to. There is a wee shed/summerhouse still at the back of Robert Rendalls house at the other side of the Willows where Robert wrote his poetry.

Alison Tait was married to Billy Tait from J & W Tait, sadly she died in childbirth, my mother remembered her singing in the cathedral and she also wrote poetry. Margaret Tait the film maker was Billy's sister and she and Alison were great friends. There is a mention about her in GMB's autobiography.

Added by Jane Glue on 28 March 2011
Jane - It's so sad that she died, isn't it. I found that out after some detective work in the newspaper archive. I think she would have become a great poet.
Added by Ragnhild Ljosland on 29 March 2011
Ragnhild and Alex, it's fine to read about Alex's Auntie Embla and Nan Duncan. Nan was our next door neighbour at Cromwell Road. She was a regular Court Interpreter at Kirkwall Sheriff Court, Norwegian to English for the many Norwegian Fishermen that were off the Norwegian Fishing Boats fishing for Dogfish and Sharks. Nan was very good to me when I was a young boy. Embla was a very kind lady who lived few doors away from Alex, I remember helping her to weed her flower beds and general tidying up. She insisted on giving me half a crown (2 Shillings and Sixpence,a King's ransom in those days). It's good to remember these times so soon after the War. All the best to yourself and Alex. Added by Phil Brough.
Added by Phil Brough. on 30 March 2011
Ferguzade was made by my grandfather John Ferguson who was a chemist in Dundee. He owned Strathmore Springs and the water was used in Ferguzade. He sold to Smith,Kline/Beechham.I hardly knew him or my gran Euphemia. Did anyone?
Added by Fiona Ferguson on 30 March 2011
Hello Jane:
I am the person who early on in this thread initiated some of the conversation. I am fascinated by the information about the well water. My Mother's GGrandfather was married to Jemima Falconer nee Bruce who was the the Aunt of the Gowans. She operated the aereated water factory and died around 1939. I would truly appreciate if you are able to throw any further light on things. And, you mentioned photographs....I would be willing to pay for scanning or printing if there are any relevant photographs that you would be willing to share. Already, I have been able to glean bits and pieces for my family history, from the long conversations above. Kindest regards, Wilma
Added by Wilma in Vancouver on 31 March 2011
With my interest in and research of Kirkwall history the comments on the lemonade factory wall are fascinating. Glad to see the comments from my good friend Alec and other old schoolmate Phil. According to Peace's almanack Garden's started their factory about 1917. Curiously Hossack (1900) says there was a distillery on the site from about 1816 after starting a brewery in North Ronaldsay Square behind the Arts Theatre.
Re aerated waters the firm of Cursiter bros started a factory in Bridge Street in 1884
Added by David Partner on 20 April 2011
I had a look in the School of Scottish Studies archive at www.tobarandualchais.co.uk but couldn't find the recording - however, I found lots of other marvollous recordings. Perhaps they haven't put it in yet?
Added by Ragnhild Ljosland on 25 April 2011
My mother worked in the original Gardens Lemonade Factory, part of the R.Garden complex in Bridge Street, when she left school.

Given that she left school at the age of 14, that would have been 1929. I have no idea how long she served there before being moved to Mr Robert Garden's house in Berstane Road to work "in service" It is my opinion that the factory would have remained in Bridge Street until the disastrous fire in the late 1930's.

See my picture #24141 of the inside of the original factory.
Added by Peter Burges on 26 April 2011
Good job you took the photo Steven, the wall's more or less demolished now. Just a section of the lower part remains.
Added by Kevin Wooldrage on 10 July 2011
I am a niece of Herbert Mowat (His wife Syd was my father's sister) I remember Herbert both at the bakehouse and the Lemonade factory - also in the summer holidays going with him in the van to deiver lemonade etc to places furth of Stromness. Happy days!
Added by Margot Alexander on 21 March 2014
That is incredible. My great grandfather's factory. I mention it in my new book Sundowner of the Skies!
Added by Mary Garden on 03 April 2020
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