alcohol

The Waverley Wine Vaults

Few would suspect that the now empty lot on the corner of Worcester, Gloucester and Manchester streets was once home to the famous Waverley Wine Vaults. Previously known as the Australasian Wine Vaults, the business was established in the late 1870s by New Zealand pioneer Edwin Coxhead Mouldey (Press 22/5/1897: 5). Mouldey, along with parents Moses and Eleanor, siblings Moses, Mary-Ann, William, Phoebe, Eleanor and relatives Henry and Sophia, were one of the pioneer families who emigrated to New Zealand on The Cressy in 1850.

In 1869, leaving the confectionery business he had established in Lyttelton to his eldest son Walter, Mouldey purchased 4 ha of land in the Heathcote valley. Here, Edwin established his vineyard, featuring plum, apricot, pear, peach and tomato plants. Mouldey also built a homestead on the site, where he, his wife Jessie Landers and their five children Ethel, Walter-Edwin, Frederick, Amy-Eleanor and Eva-Rebecca resided (Ogilvie 2009: 134-135).

While life in the valley may have seemed oh-so-sweet, it was not without tragedy for the Mouldey family. Frederick Mouldey, who was a keen rabbit hunter on the Heathcote hills, was found dead after failing to meet his father at the family bach in Sumner in 1914. His death was listed as accidental, as it appeared his shotgun had mistakenly gone off and the shell had lodged in Frederick's throat (Press 09/03/1914: 9).

Article regarding the death of Frederick Mouldey. Image: Press 09/03/1914: 9.

Walter Mouldey, the eldest of Edwin’s sons, became well known in the community for his strength and as an amateur sportsman. At just 19, Mouldey's chest measures a staggering 43 inches and he was ranked among the 10 strongest men in the world. In the early 20th century Walter added a gymnasium to the Mouldey homestead, where notable visiting boxers were often invited for a round or two in the ring. One of the more prestigious visitors was Bob Fitzsimmons, who held three boxing world titles between 1891 and 1905 (Ogilvie 2009: 134-135).

In 1914 when war broke out and New Zealand didn’t immediately join the war efforts, Walter (who had previously fought in the Boer War) purchased a ticket to England and joined the Lancashire Fusiliers. During his time in the Fusiliers, Walter rose to the rank of lieutenant, but was severely gassed in France and sustained a leg injury from a splintering shell. His outstanding physique was thought to be the only thing that saved him from death (Ogilvie 2009: 134-135).

The Mouldeys most prosperous venture was the Waverley Wine Vaults. Originally named the Australasian Wine Vaults, Edwin began his wine making at his Heathcote Valley property in 1869. While the fruit trees prevailed, grapes were not as easy to procure as Edwin had hoped, and so he was limited to making fruit wines (Press 22/5/1897: 5).

In 1888, Edwin moved his business into what was formerly Gee’s school room, on Town Sections 688, 689, 690 and 691. With this move, the wine vaults grew both in size, and success (Press 22/5/1897: 5). The vineyards achieved their peak in 1907, when they produced 1,150 gallons of wine, 105 gallons of spirits, 1,413 gallons of sherry and a staggering 162 gallons of fortifying fruit spirits (Ogilvie 2009: 134-135).

Advertisements from the period promote the sale of port wine, sherry, verdeilho, red and white constantia and other light wines (Press 27/11/1901: 12).

In 1913 after the death of his wife, Edwin sold the Heathcote Valley vineyard to the Booth family, stepping down to allow eldest son Walter to carry on the lease and management of the Worcester Street winery until 1939 (Ogilvie 2009: 134-135).

Advertisements and articles from the period are a stark difference to the way in which we advertise alcohol today. In an article about Mouldey and the wine business, the industry is described as "commendable" and Edwin describes the need for "encouragement" for people (referring in particular to families) to consume more alcohol, by way of lower prices and a license to retail his wines (Press 22/5/1897: 5)

The wine business didn’t come without its bumps along the way, however, and the Mouldey family experienced some significant challenges. In 1888, Edwin Mouldey was declared bankrupt just 5 years after he originally leased and mortgaged the town sections on which he situated the Waverley Wine Vaults (Star 7/1/1888: 2). A vesting order was taken out on all the sites in the same year, which is believed to have been the reason Mouldey was able to stay in business.

In 1907, Walter Mouldey was caught delivering a package of unlabelled port wine to George Bales in Ashburton, which was at the time a no-license district. Walter was charged with making the delivery, and further charged with failing to send the requisite notice to the Clerk of the Court (Ashburton Guardian 15/2/1907: 3).

Despite these indiscretions, the Mouldey family were held in high respect within the community. Eva-Rebecca took her love for art and made a distinguished career for herself, under her married name of Mewton. She exhibited some of her water colour drawings in London, which featured scenery from Switzerland, Austria and Bombay, showing the distance of her travels (Ogilvie 2009: 134-135).

Amy-Eleanor succeeded in a ‘first aid to the injured’ course, passing in the Medallion section, and received many awards during her school days (Ogilvie 2009: 134-135).

Edwin lived to be 83, and maintained a distinguished reputation within the Canterbury community. The Waverley Wine Vaults was the first distillery in the South Island, and although after 1939 the distillery was re-purposed into a packing facility, several other wine merchants came into business in Christchurch during the middle of the 20th century, following in Mouldey’s footsteps (Ogilvie 2009: 134-135).

From 1959 the Heathcote valley property was farmed by Jack and Lucy Labuddle and Rolfe Bond, after Walter officially retired from the business in 1939 and moved into the seafaring business, followed by his two sons Andrew and David.

Steph Howarth

References

Olgivie, G., 2009. The Port Hills of Christchurch. Phillips and King Publishers, Christchurch.

Whisky, that philosophic wine, that liquid sunshine

It is a well-known truth, in this office at least, that archaeology and whisky go well together. Or, perhaps more accurately, that archaeologists and whisky go well together. With a few exceptions (you know who you are, gin drinkers), it is not at all uncommon to find yourself in the company of an archaeologist with a fine appreciation for a single malt (or two, or three). With that in mind, it's a bit of a wonder that we haven't thought to write a blog post combining the two before now (honestly, archaeology and whisky are two of my favourite things, what were we thinking). It won't surprise any of our readers, I think, to hear that alcohol bottles are one of the most common artefacts we find on 19th century sites (here in Christchurch and throughout New Zealand). Despite the temperance movement in the late 19th century and the many discussions and testimonies about the evils of the demon drink, alcohol remained a popular product. As with the gin bottles we discussed a while back, however, it can be difficult to know exactly which types of alcohol were originally contained in these bottles - unless we have a label or embossing (and even then, these bottles were reused over and over again for a variety of products). Fortunately for this post, as it happens, we've been lucky enough to find a few examples that do have labels, each with their own story to tell about whisky consumption in Christchurch.

dsc_7168ed1

Johnnie Walker.

Genuine pure whisky will never injure the system.

removing the drunk from whisky

saucel-paisley

squirrel whisky

Kirkliston

doctor's special

thom-and-cameron-for-blog

Thom and Cameron

idle men need duff's whisky

Distiller's Company

heddle leith

Occidental

ruining the whisky punch

Jessie Garland

References

Papers Past. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.

Townsend, B., 2015. Scotch Missed: The Original Guide to the Lost Distilleries of Scotland. Neil Wilson Publishing, England.

Of all the gin joints.

Picture this. A summer’s day: clear blue skies and the heat of the afternoon sunshine, just the hint of a breeze. You might be in a garden, sheltering from the sun in the shade of the tree or under a verandah, relaxing, maybe to music, maybe to the sound of the cicadas in the trees. And in your hand, there’s a cool, tall, oh-so-refreshing glass of gin and tonic. It’s summer time, and the living is easy…

In the modern day, gin seems to me evocative of exactly this: the sights, sounds and heat of the summer. It’s a drink, now almost invariably paired with tonic, that exudes refreshment, breeziness and just a hint of class. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.

It’s funny then, that in the 19th century, it brought to mind a whole host of other things - good and bad. While the reputation of gin had improved slightly from the days when it was referred to as ‘mother’s ruin’, a nickname derived from William Hogarth’s depiction of ‘Gin Alley’ and the gin craze of 18th century Britain, it still inspired many tirades among contemporaries regarding the evils of drink. This is especially true of the flourishing temperance movement of the late 19th century, who took great pains to relate numerous accounts of the spirit causing death and disruption in society (Wellington Independent17/03/1847: 4). It does seem, though, from some of the accounts of gin drinking in the newspapers that they may have had a point. Drinking gin and petrol every day, for example, can’t have been good for a person.

Left: an account of a man drinking a petroleum & gin cocktail. Right: a description of gin palaces and drinkers, that seems particularly harsh to the Scottish. Images:
Left: an account of a man drinking a petroleum & gin cocktail. Right: a description of gin palaces and drinkers, that seems particularly harsh to the Scottish. Images:

Interestingly enough, though, gin was also marketed as a medicinal remedy and ‘health drink’ during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. We’ve mentioned aromatic schnapps here on the blog before, a type of gin primarily advertised as a medicine, but there were many varieties of gin marketed as beneficial beverages (Evening Post24/06/1926: 24Press2/10/1924: 6Wairarapa Age4/10/1913: 5). Copious amounts of alcohol were often offered to patients in hospitals during this time, as well (Colonist12/02/1910: 4).

Gin seems to have been advertised as a remedy for everything from kidney problems to the more vague “toning up the nerves” (Evening Post 24/06/1926: 15). There were even ‘gin pills’, containing “in a concentrated form all the curative properties of a pint of the finest gin” and recommended for ailments of the “kidneys and allied organs” (Wairarapa Age4/10/1913: 5). It was also associated with the prevention of malaria, due to the common combination of gin and tonic water – the latter was invented in the mid-19th century for the express purpose of administering quinine, an anti-malarial.

Gin as medicine. Preventing us all from ruining our health with tea and cakes! Image:
Gin as medicine. Preventing us all from ruining our health with tea and cakes! Image:

From an archaeological perspective, unfortunately (as is the case with many of the beverages consumed in the 19th century), it can be difficult to identify gin bottles among the material culture we recover, especially if the labels haven’t survived. Certain bottles, such as the ‘case gin’ shape, are known to have contained gin and are easily identifiable. However, especially towards the end of the 19th century, gin was bottled in several types of bottle, often indistinguishable from those used to hold other spirits or alcoholic beverages. In these cases, we have to rely on paper labels and metal capsule bottle seals, neither of which are prone to survival in the archaeological record.

Nevertheless, the following are some of the brands and types of gin we’ve come across so far during our work here in Christchurch.

Van Dulken Weiland & Co., gin manufacturers from Rotterdam, Holland. Dutch gin – or ‘genever’/jenever – is famous as the drink from which all other ‘gins’ are essentially derived. The Dutch were producing gin from at least the 16th century onwards (maybe earlier): the drink was embraced by Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries (due in no small part to the influence of William of Orange), before being adapted over the centuries to form the spirit as we know it now (i.e. ‘London’ dry gin, etc; Van Acker - Beittel 2013). Despite the popularity of British gins in the 19th century, genever continued to be advertised and sold as a separate beverage in contemporary newspapers (Lyttelton Times27/09/1851: 2New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator 30/01/1841: 1Otago Witness15/09/1860: 2). We don’t know much about this particular Dutch manufacturer, but it seems likely that the bottle would have contained the genever style of gin, which often has a strong malt flavour, rather than the anglicised version.

A pig snout gin bottle with a prunt or blob seal on the shoulder.
A pig snout gin bottle with a prunt or blob seal on the shoulder.

Plymouth Gin, on the other hand, is – as the name suggests – quintessentially English. It’s actually geographically locked, in that it could only be manufactured in the town of Plymouth: unlike other gin styles – like Old Tom gin, for example (I’ll come to this one in a second) – other manufacturers were forbidden from using the name for their own products. It was first produced by Coates & Co. at the famous Black Friars distillery, in the late 18th century, after one Thomas Coates joined the already established Plymouth distillery of Fox & Williamson in 1793 (Plymouth Gin Company 2015). It quickly became one of the most popular gin brands in the 19th century and, to this day, remains a distinctive and hugely popular brand. It’s also one that had strong medical associations – several advertisements found in contemporary newspapers claim it to be “the healthiest drink ever put into a bottle” (Press2/10/1924: 6).

Plymouth gin
Plymouth gin

We’ve only found one artefact associated with Plymouth Gin here in Christchurch, in the form of a metal capsule, originally used to seal the bottle at the top. Sadly, intact and/or legible capsules like these are rare finds, due to their fragility.

Plymouth Gin bottle capsule found in Christchurch. Image: K. Bone.
Plymouth Gin bottle capsule found in Christchurch. Image: K. Bone.

Probably the most common type of gin found in on archaeological sites here in the city is Old Tom gin, a sweeter variety that was extremely popular during the late 19th century. It declined in popularity during the early decades of the 20th century but has since enjoyed something of a revival, apparently. As the story goes, it takes its name from cat (‘old toms’) shaped signs used during gin prohibition/restrictions to provide gin to the masses. Supposedly, there would be a tube under a slot in the wall: you put money in the slot and received a shot of gin through the tube. Which would be ingenious, if it’s true.

Pun-tastic poem about Old Tom Gin (and other forms of alcohol). Image:
Pun-tastic poem about Old Tom Gin (and other forms of alcohol). Image:

Here in Christchurch we usually find Old Tom labels and seals in association with Sir Robert Burnett, a manufacturer and/or distributor of various alcohols and foodstuffs, operating out of London during the second half of the 19th century (Campbell et al. 2009). Old Tom was, however, made by a variety of manufacturers during this period and distributed throughout the world. One of the more entertaining and slightly horrifying articles I came across during my research features Old Tom – or at least, a drink pretending to be Old Tom. In an 1855 edition of the Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, there’s an account of how a quantity of gin, “disposed of to the public as the very best Old Tom”, was in fact an un-named variety of gin that had been used to preserve the body of a Dutch captain in a barrel during a sea voyage (Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle8/12/1855: 3). I’m betting it probably didn’t taste like Old Tom in the end.

Labelled bottle of Sir Robert Burnett's Old Tom gin, found in Christchurch. Image: J. Garland.
Labelled bottle of Sir Robert Burnett's Old Tom gin, found in Christchurch. Image: J. Garland.

Finally, in the interests of improving everybody’s weekends, here are some of the 19th and early 20th century recipes I found for gin cocktails in the course of researching this post. I recommend avoiding the petrol one (above).

Perfect Lady ½ gin ½ peach brandy ¼ fresh lemon juice Dash of egg white

Gin Puff Old Tom gin Sugar Cream Plain Soda

Gin FizzGinCrushed iceHalf a lemonTsp sugarEgg white / egg yolk

"A wineglass of gin is put into a long thin glass, known all over America as a fizz glass. A tumbler is then filled up to the brim with crushed ice, half a lemon squeezed upon it, and about a teaspoonful of pulverized sugar. Pulverised sugar is what is always used for American drinks. This is all whisked up until thoroughly cold, and the tumbler is then filled up with soda water...By straining it of the ice, adding the white of an egg and whisking it all up together, we make a 'silver fizz'. By substituting the yolk for the white and going through the same process the 'golden fizz' is made."

And, for those of you with problems cleaning silk, here’s an alternative use for gin…

"Mix well together ¼ lb of honey, the white of one egg, 3oz. of soft soap, one wineglass of gin and one pint of hot water. Lay the pieces of silk separately on a deal board or table and using a small brush, which must be neither too hard not too soft, scrub them on both sides with the above mixture. Have ready two pails of cold water and as soon as each breadth of silk has been well scrubbed, dip in into both pails successively and shake it about so that as much as possible the mixture shall be rinsed out. Then hang it out to dry."

Jessie Garland

References

Campbell, M., Gumbley, W. and Hudson, B., 2009. Archaeological Investigations at the Bamber House and Wanganui Hotel sites (Town Sections 79 and 77), UCOL Whanganui Converge Redevelopment, Wanganui. Unpublished report to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and the Universal College of Learning.

Colonist. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.

Evening Post. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.

Lyttelton Times. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.

Nelson Examiner and Wellington Chronicle. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.

New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.

Otago Witness. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.

Plymouth Gin Company, 2015. [online] Available at www.plymouthgin.com.

Press. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.

Van Acker - Beittel, V., 2013. Genever: 500 Years of History in a Bottle. Flemish Lion, LLC.

Wairarapa Age. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.

Wellington Independent. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.