This long lost histories focuses on the site of a former industrial works in Atherton, even though all trace of the building has gone, the legacy lives on through the items it produced.

Stothert’s & Sons Ltd

Aerial View of Sothert's Ltd and the Albion Drugs and Distillery works, 1929. Source: http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw031114?name=ATHERTON&gazetteer=ATHERTON&POPULATED_PLACE=ATHERTON&ADMIN_AREA=Wigan&ref=4
Aerial View of Sothert’s Ltd and the Albion Drugs and Distillery works, 1929.
(Source: http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk)

Stother’s and Sons was originally a firm of chemists founded by Richard Stothert (1832 – 1912) in Atherton. According to local historian John Lunn, the business was founded in 1852. However according to census data and other archival records, it seems the Stothert family do not move to Atherton until around 1872. Prior to this Richard, who was born in the village of Goosnargh near Preston was an apprentice to a chemist in 1851 and worked and lived in Bolton.

By 1881 the family are settled in Atherton although the business is small employing “one man and one boy”. Richard, his wife Priscilla and their children Margaret, Amelia, Ethel, Elizabeth, James, Priscilla, William, Richard M. and Herbert are living at Albion House (pictured on the right of the photo above next to the circular driveway). The family quickly settled into their new middle class status, The Blackburn Standard from 1888 lists members of the family attending the Conservative Club ball at Blackburn town hall.

In September 1899, Ethel Stothert married Arthur Henry Rostron at St. John the Baptist Church in Atherton. Arthur H. Rostron would later be remembered by history as the captain of the Carpathia, which rescued the survivors of the Titanic disaster in April 1912.

Stothert's tin of Caster Oil pills, late 19th century Source: www.oldshopstuff.com
Stothert’s tin of Caster Oil pills, late 19th century
(Source: http://www.oldshopstuff.com)
Stother's Mineral Water Bottle. Source: Own Photograph, 2015
Stothert’s Mineral Water Bottle.
(Source: Own Photograph, 2015)

By the end of the nineteenth century the business was booming. The company had been producing medicines and pills etc. (see top photo) which in a time before modern medicines and pre-dating the National Heath Service in Britain proved very popular amongst the Victorians. Richard Stothert even had travellers who sold his good across the country.

Stothert appears to have embodied the traditional Victorian entrepreneurial spirit. By the beginning of the 20th century, the company has expanded to producing bottled beverages including ginger beer and mineral water (see photo above). Richard Stothert and his sons had excellent minds for business and used Richard’s image on the bottles and tins as a marketing tool and thereby ensuring brand recognition. Perhaps this is why so many of Stothert’s and sons goods still survive today.

20th Century and Decline

The company was inherited by Richard’s son, Richard Maxwell Stothert (1871-1948). The company continued to prosper and this is shown in archival records relating to the Stothert family. In 1911 Richard Maxwell is living at Albion House with his wife, two children and two domestic servants. Furthermore telephone directories reveal that there is a telephone line at Albion House from at least 1909 (No.196 Atherton). Even later we can see this from passenger record lists that the Stothert family are still enjoying a fortunate lifestyle. In 1928 Richard Maxwell Stothert and his wife Edith and daughter Joan returned from a cruise to the West Indies travelling first class and again in 1938 Richard and Edith returned to England travelling first class from a year in South Africa.

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Advertisement for Stothers Ltd, 1920 (Source: Hull Daily Mail, 17th September 1920, p.6)

By the 1940s, Richard Maxwell Stothert’s son, Maxwell Hardwood Stothert was running the business, which was now producing soft drinks. As well as managing his business, Maxwell also had two bands “Max and his Merry Men and the Night owls” and the “Atherton Salon Orchestra”.

Maxwell Hardwood Stothert's Band, 1940/50s (Source:http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/northwest/10078941.Researching_grandad_s_dance_band/)
Maxwell Hardwood Stothert’s Band, 1940/50s
(Source:http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/northwest/10078941.Researching_grandad_s_dance_band/)

In the late 1960s the company was absorbed by the soft drinks company A.G.Barr Ltd and they used the site as one of their plants until it closed in 2006. The whole site was demolished and today it stands derelict (see below).

Site of Stothert's Ltd, 2015 (Source: Own Photograph)
Site of Stothert’s Ltd, 2015
(Source: Own Photograph)

Fortunately thanks to marketing and manufacturing technique of the Stothert family, their legacy and even the products they produced exist well into the 21st century.

~

Sources:
-“Atherton: A Manorial, Social and Industrial History” by John Lunn (Atherton: Atherton Urban District Council, 1971)
The Blackburn Standard, 26 January 1888, p.6
– Hull Daily Mail, 17 September 1920, p.6
– aerial Imagery :- http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw031114?name=ATHERTON&gazetteer=ATHERTON&POPULATED_PLACE=ATHERTON&ADMIN_AREA=Wigan&ref=4
– Photograph of the Stothert’s tin :- http://oldshopstuff.com/Shop/tabid/1248/ItemID/7959/Listing/Old-tin-Stotherts-of-Atherton-Medical-Chemist-Pills-String-Cutter-Counter-Tin/Default.aspx
– Photograph of Maxwell Stothert’s Band :- http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/northwest/10078941.Researching_grandad_s_dance_band/
– Census records/Telephone Directories/Passenger Lists :- http://www.ancestry.co.uk

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