Leigh & Co

The firm of Leigh & Co were producers of mineral waters in Salford from 1885. They were known to have used large numbers of different types of bottles made of amber glass, when most of their competition was using aqua glass bottles, if not ones made of stoneware. This would seem to have been an expensive marketing ploy, for amber glass bottles cost much more than the commoner aqua variety. The extra costs seem to have done the company no harm. They went on to become the biggest mineral water supplier in Salford .

The company owes it origin to Charles Henry Leigh who was born in 1854. He emigrated to South Africa in 1874 but had returned to England by 1880. Only two years went by before Charles started out in the lucrative mineral water business. His sister meanwhile had married William P Groves, a partner in Groves & Whitnall's Regent Road Brewery. This was apparently quite a useful partnership for Charles Leigh. In 1885 Leigh & Co was established to provide mineral waters for Groves & Whitnall's licensed houses. The mineral water manufactory was established on Oldfield Road , Salford and went under the grand title "Globe Works". The company also registered a trade mark of a globe. Maybe they were very forward looking and had hopes of great expansion. It can certainly be established that they did export mineral waters to distant places, like the well-known Manchester concern of Jewsbury & Brown. It is recorded that Leigh & Co exported mineral waters to Ladysmith in South Africa sometime before the Boer War.

Groves7Above: Charles Henry Leigh

In a short time, they became established as the biggest suppliers of waters in the district. This was in no small measure due to the success of the Regent Road Brewery, who were engaged in the business of buying up tied houses and smaller breweries. In 1888, Groves & Whitnall had 48 licensed houses. Ten years later, their empire had grown to 591 licensed properties, all needing a constant supply of Leigh & Co's products. Strange then that by the end of 1899, the name of Leigh & Co disappeared for ever. In that year, Groves & Whitnall was floated as a company. A decision had already been taken to fully incorporate Leigh & Co into the business. In fact little changed. Charles Leigh became a director of Groves & Whitnall Ltd but remained at Globe Works on Oldfield Road in his capacity as manager. One big change was in the supply of new bottles. From 1899, all new bottle orders were made in the name of "Groves & Whitnall LTD" but the familiar and expensive amber glass continued to be ordered.

leighgreeAbove: A Leigh Mineral Water Bottle (Circa 1885)

In 1900, Groves & Whitnall Ltd took over Cronshaw Alexandra Brewery, whose trade mark had been a hand holding an arrow. In the same year, Globe Works on Oldfield Lane was closed down. For many years afterwards, the buildings there served as stables for Groves & Whitnall's horses. This did not mean the end of mineral water manufacturing; it was simply a case of the company moving on. From a directory entry for 1902, it can be established that the new Globe Works was situated at No.1 Calder Street , Salford . The manager in that year was still Charles Henry Leigh but in that year he resigned his directorship of Groves & Whitnall. He was persuaded to rejoin them in 1913 and died in office on the 11th March 1925.