|Iver Village 1908.|
|St Peter's Church Iver, Bucks, Photo by John Chisholm.|
By 1871, Thomas and Eliza, have five children from their own marriage. The youngest of these, barely two, is Albert Ray, father of our Bert. Their oldest child is Arthur William. Along with Susannah, the youngest child of Thomas's first marriage, they are living in Harlington, Middlesex, at the Crown Inn (49 Bath Rd., now demolished), and Thomas is a ginger beer manufacturer. Ten years on, Thomas is a mineral water manufacturer in the same area, but now living at 2 Holly House Harlington.
The mineral water industry had its beginnings in mineral springs as early as Roman times. The waters of various spas sold well - Leamington, Epsom, Clerkenwell, Malvern and Sadlers Wells, for example. The discovery of lime and lemon juice to prevent scurvy contributed to experimentation with mineral waters, as did the introduction of ginger beers - all associated, as were the spas, with health and apothecaries.
It is, however, after the publication by Dr Joseph Priestley in the 1772 of Directions for Impregnating Water with Fixed Air and the subsequent identification by Antoine Lavousier of 'fixed air' as carbon dioxide that equipment for carbonating water and fruit juices was developed and commercial production of soft drinks was taken up across Britain. In the late nineteenth century the temperance movement also boosted the industry.
Thomas Ray was one of those who recognised the potential, adapted his skills, gained knowledge, and went into business. He seems to have had the support of both wives and his children. There continue to be family links between children of his first marriage and Eliza's family, and further stories could be researched and told round this venturesome man.
|from Hounslow Council Library Local Studies website|
After Arthur moved from High St Hounslow, his young brother, Albert, and his family, moved in with Eliza and operated the mineral water business. Eliza was there as Bert Ray, his sister and brothers, were born into a reasonably comfortable, industrious household, built on the efforts she and her husband Thomas had made over many years in a journey, with a large blended family, from agricultural labourers, to servants, to greengrocers, to manufacturers of gingerbeer and mineral water.