Paisley Daily Express - - Front Page - Ken­neth Speirs

A ginger beer bot­tle from the com­pany at the cen­tre of a fa­mous Pais­ley court case has been un­earthed by work­men.

The Stevenson’s pot­tery bot­tle came to light for the first time in more than 100 years at the premises of Flo­gas, in Pais­ley’s Aber­corn Street, when the work­ers were dig­ging there.

Glen Lane-based Stevenson’s was the firm that was in­volved in the world-renowned ‘snail in the bot­tle’ le­gal ac­tion that was raised against it in the late 1920s when a woman was taken ill af­ter swal­low­ing some of the pop­u­lar drink, which turned out to have a slug in it.

Wil­liam Young, 36, site fore­man at Flo­gas, was thrilled that a bot­tle with such a strong Pais­ley con­nec­tion has now seen the light of day af­ter so many years.

He said: “We were get­ting work done in the yard and the guys who were dig­ging it out started to see rem­nants of the bot­tle.

“So they just slowed down a wee bit and there were maybe about 40 of the bot­tles un­der the con­crete but some were bro­ken. We got the best ones.

“This place used to be a boat yard and then it was a dye works, so it could pos­si­bly have been the work­ers who left them there.

“It’s ob­vi­ously in­ter­est­ing that you can find some­thing like that and when you do a bit of re­search, there’s a bit of his­tory be­hind it. “It did spark a wee bit of in­ter­est.” Writ­ten on the bot­tle is the mes­sage: “Any­one fill­ing or vend­ing this bot­tle is li­able to pros­e­cu­tion”.

Mr Young said: “It’s quite funny, be­cause all of our gas cylin­ders say the ex­act same.

“It’s il­le­gal for any­one to fill our gas bot­tles.”

And he added that he would love any of the Stevenson fam­ily who are still alive to have the ginger beer bot­tle.

“It would be nice to see if some of the fam­ily were still in Pais­ley,” Mr Young said.

It was on Au­gust 26, 1928, that shop as­sis­tant May Donoghue met a friend at the Wellmeadow Café, in Pais­ley.

Her friend or­dered and paid for a pear and ice cream ginger beer float for Miss Donoghue.

But the ginger beer al­legedly con­tained de­com­pos­ing re­mains of a snail.

Miss Donoghue com­plained of stom­ach pains, and a doc­tor di­ag­nosed gas­troen­teri­tis and shock.

At that time, com­mon law only ac­knowl­edged a duty of care was owed to peo­ple harmed by the neg­li­gent acts of oth­ers in spe­cific cir­cum­stances.

But when the case went to court, May Donoghue’s lawyer ar­gued that a man­u­fac­turer who puts a prod­uct on the mar­ket in a form that does not al­low the con­sumer to ex­am­ine it be­fore us­ing it is li­able for any dam­age caused.

The judge in the case found in favour of Miss Donoghue.

Lord Atkin said: “The rule that you are to love your neigh­bour be­comes in law ‘ You must not in­jure your neigh­bour’; and the lawyer’s ques­tion: ‘ Who is my neigh­bour?’ re­ceives a re­stricted re­ply.

“You must take rea­son­able care to avoid acts or omis­sions which you can rea­son­ably fore­see would be likely to in­jure your neigh­bour.”

This gave rise to the mod­ern law of neg­li­gence.

Lawrence McGregor Oliver, 50, was the work­man who un­earthed the his­toric bot­tle with a dig­ger bucket at Flo­gas.

He said: “We dug it out of the bucket. It was just in there.

“I saw ‘Pais­ley’ writ­ten on it and I live in Pais­ley, and there was ‘Glen Lane’ on it too, and I’d never heard of Glen Lane and I asked the guys about it. It just looked old.

“It’s nice to find a bit of his­tory, let’s say.”

It’s nice to find a bit of his­tory Lawrence McGregor Oliver

Dig­ging it Wil­liam Young, left, and Lawrence McGregor Oliver with the in­tact ginger beer bot­tle and a shat­tered rem­nant

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