A BLAST FROM THE PAST
WORKMEN FIND HISTORIC BOTTLES
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