IT is a Lancashire, and indeed global, icon – and now Vimto is celebrating its centenary.
The headquarters of the sweet-tasting cordial are now in Newton-le-Willows.
But there are enough Wigan folk with memories and continuing connections with Vimto to pay tribute to one of the world’s most enduring brands.
For four years the drinks were produced, canned and bottled from a plant at the Stone Cross industrial estate in Golborne. This was after the canning line from Southampton, the cordial bottling line form Wythenshawe, and the production from Haydock were brought together.
There were about 60 employees based at the Golborne factory, which comprised 50% new staff and 50% from the previous sites.
At that time the factory was turning out around 2.2 million cases (24 cans per case) of Vimto and Sunkist each year.
The factory had a full water treatment facility and a “tank farm” handling bulk raw materials such as sugars, glucose syrups and fruit juices in 20,000 litre tanks.
The operation had full warehousing facilities, chill storage and workshops.
Vimto Soft Drinks’ marketing, sales and finance was located in the site as well.
But in 2003 the Nichols parent company underwent a major overhaul which included outsourcing the manufacturing of all drinks to a number of other sites in the UK.
Nichols PLC retains direct control of the sales, marketing and distribution activities relating to all its soft drinks brands and its head office remains at Newton-le-Willows where some Wigan staff still work. The inventor of Vimto was (John) Noel Nichols who was born in Blackburn in December 1883 to a cotton yarn agent, John Cooke Nichols, and his wife, Lois, a governess.
Noel Nichols invented the purple drink 100 years ago in 1908 when he was 24.
Using a secret recipe of 29 ingredients of herbs, spices and essences from around the world, Noel Nichols first created the unique Vimto taste in a wooden barrel in his warehouse.
The Vimto empire began as a wholesale druggist and herb importer business at 49 Granby Row in central Manchester. Vimto was intended to be a healthy pick-me-up.
Its name comes from the fact that it gave you “vim” and “vigour”.