Rotarians raise a glass to a history of the waters

MORPETH Operations Director Pete Smith welcomed members and friends of Morpeth Rotary Club to the Schweppes Abbey Well site of Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) in Coopies Lane and explained the manufacturing processes and the business model.

Originally, mineral water and soft drinks were produced by Waters and Robson in Morpeth. First produced in 1910 at a site close to Newminster Abbey, this area became very congested as there were two schools nearby and there were potential traffic problems.

The council gave Waters and Robson an incentive in 1982 to move to Coopies Lane and the old well was capped.

At the new site they drilled in several places at several depths to find the correct quality and quantity of water and created two boreholes both of similar quality, with the second borehole feeding the utilities on site.

The first production of Abbey Well Natural Mineral Water was in 1984 – 200 cases of 180ml water were produced in returnable glass bottles, but the rate of sale was small and not all bottles were sold before their shelf life expired.

The site was acquired by CCE in November 2008. It is the world’s third-largest independent Coca Cola bottler and is the sole licensed bottler for products of The Coca-Cola Company in Belgium, continental France, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.

In Great Britain, CCE employs around 4,500 people across England, Scotland and Wales at manufacturing sites and depots. CCE’s manufacturing sites in GB also include East Kilbride, Wakefield, Milton Keynes, Sidcup and Edmonton.

Morpeth is the only source of Schweppes Abbey Well Natural Mineral Water and the only CCE water site in GB. The water is pure and untreated and has been naturally filtered over 3,000 years through sandstone, removing all impurities.

It has been scientifically dated to between 3,000 and 4,500 years old, hence it is said Abbey Well water fell as rain and snow before the age of pollution. Water intake is in the white sandstone rock layer at 302ft and at 2,000 gallons per hour.

Last year, Schweppes Abbey Well was the official water of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The largest area of bottled water consumption is in the south east of England and this is where a high percentage of Schweppes Abbey Well sales take place.

The Morpeth site produces a relatively small volume (less than 0.5 per cent) of CCE’s total non-alcoholic ready-to-drink volume in GB, but the brand plays an important role in the overall portfolio and enables CCE to offer a full range of soft drinks.

Production is 24 hours per day, Monday to Friday, although during peak times such as the summer this may need to be increased further. CCE has 90 production lines across Europe and four of them are located in Morpeth.

The Morpeth site can handle 14 bulk delivery lorries every 24 hours – the distribution is through third-party hauliers such as Eddie Stobart.

CCE was the main sponsor of Morpeth Fair Day last year and it works with the Morpeth Chamber of Trade to support the local community. It has also maintained an association with Morpeth Swimming Club to support its sporting development.