Roughsedge & Summers

1835 Roughsedge & Summers advertisement from the Bristol Mercury

1835 Roughsedge & Summers advert from the Bristol Mercury

Roughsedge & Summers was a Bristol-based aerated drinks manufacturer that operated between 1834 and 1869. The company, founded by William Roughsedge and William Summers, had premises at 12, 15, 18 and 37 Bridge Street, Bristol.

Roughsedge and Summers were both Londoners, who worked for J. Schweppe & Co. in London. Roughsedge left London in the 1820s to work as Schweppe & Co.’s Bristol agent; Summers was the principal engineer at their London mineral water factory. In 1834, the proprietors of J. Schweppe & Co. sold the company and after disagreements with the new owners, Roughsedge and Summers decided to form their own company. Due to their former connection with Jacob Schweppe, the two men decided to have their mineral water bottles embossed with the words ‘Roughsedge & Summers from J. Schweppe & Co.’. The use of the latter company’s name unsurprisingly led to a prolonged legal dispute.

Roughsedge & Summers’ factory was located at 37 Bridge Street, but by 1842, they had expanded into 18 Bridge Street. In 1856 they moved from number 18 to number 15 Bridge Street, and by 1866 they were operating from 12, 15 and 37 Bridge Street. The company’s first advertisement listed their products as ‘Soda and Mineral waters’ and by 1837 they were also selling lemonade. ‘Fluid Magnesia’ was added to the range by 1842, followed by Gingerade, Potass and Imperial German Seltzer waters, all of which were being marketed by 1856. ‘Lithia Waters’ were advertised from 1866 onwards.

Roughsedge & Summers advert, 1859

Roughsedge & Summers advert, 1859, reproduced courtesy of Graces Guide.

In 1837 Roughsedge and Summers were convicted of selling small quantities of brandy with their drinks. The company was also occasionally the victim of crime: in 1851, two boys named George Hopkins and John Lewis, were convicted and sentenced to six weeks imprisonment and a lashing, for selling stolen bottles of Roughsedge & Summers lemonade on the quayside.

In 1859, part of Roughsedge & Summers’ warehouse was damaged by a fire at the adjacent Canterbury Music Hall, Mary-Le-Port Street. Fortunately, the prompt action of the local fire brigade prevented serious damage to nearby properties.

William Roughsedge died in 1866, but the company continued trading under the existing name until the partnership between William Summer and Roughsedge’s widow Mary was dissolved on the 6th of March 1869. Summers continued trading as William Summers & Co.


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