Another CWS factory
Posted by Llyn Green on May 16, 2019, 12:07 pm
The CWS pop factory was behind what was the Brighton Cinema and Dancehall, at the top of Westgate Road, on the left just before the Newcastle General Hospital. |
The factory had a mechanical maintenance man, but was too small to carry a full-time electrician, so if anything electrical went wrong, someone was sent from Blandford St., on the Trolley Bus, to sort it out.
You could tell how big the breakdown was before you got into the factory from the noise, or lack of noise. When the plant was running, you could hear the bottles rattling way down the street.
The factory was awash with water and most of the electrical troubles were caused through water getting into the electrics.
The plant was fully automated, with a very small staff, only needed to keep the machinery supplied with empty bottles and to remove the full ones.
The bottles, way back then, were made of glass and thousands of them were moved around the factory on a conveyor belt system made of little heart shaped steel plates, which meant the track could curve. These belts moved the bottles through railed guides, but slid under the bottles when the bottles were bunched up waiting to pass through the various cleaning, filling and labelling sections.
This system was great to watch, but if a bottle fell over, or one of the conveyor plates warped, it could cause chaos. The bottles would start jumping out of the rails and smashing on the floor, and would continue to do so until the system was shut down. It was bad enough when the bottles were empty, but you can imagine the mess when the bottles were full and charged with the fizzy gas.
The soda syphons used to go off like bombs if they were involved in pile-ups.
I’ve had some nasty cuts from bits of glass ending up lodged in bits of machinery I was working on.
The bottles in those days were nothing like the thin plastic ones today.
They were made of heavy duty glass, and the screw thread for the stopper was on the inside of the neck of the bottle, not on the outside like modern bottles.
The stopper was made from a dark grey stone-like material with a screw threaded base and a red rubber washer to seal it.
These stoppers were often used by the girls as makeshift tops for top and whip games.
The bottles were sold with a 3d deposit, which was refunded when the bottle was returned to the shop, but it had to have the stopper or it was refused.
People used to store all manner of liquids in old pop bottles. They were used to store paraffin, turps, oil and weed killer, so using a second-hand bottle could be a bit of a gamble.
When the bottles arrived at the plant they were inspected and any damaged or tainted bottles were removed. The stoppers were also inspected and the rubber washers removed.
They were then steam cleaned and inspected again and sent by conveyor to the filling machine.
This was a circular revolving flat disc, that took each bottle off the conveyor and filled it as it went around. The tank above the machine was filled with whatever flavour of pop they were producing on that day.
The liquid was still “flat” at this point and the next machine injected a small bead of “dry ice or frozen carbon dioxide” which gave it the fizz when it melted.
The next machine dropped the bottle stopper into the neck of the bottle, and as it passed between two rollers the stopper was screwed into the neck of the bottle.
It then passed through the labelling machine, which pasted the bottle, then stuck on the new label.
The bottles were then crated and were ready to go out into the world again.
Thinking back, it was quite a responsibility sending a young lad of eighteen or nineteen on his own into a production line factory with so much machinery.
In those days, all the sequence of events on the production lines were monitored by the bottles pushing on levers as they passed by, which in turn operated micro switches.
These all had to be set up with spanners and Allan Keys, no lasers and computers in those days.
After fixing the breakdown, you had to report to the manager to tell him what you had done.
He was a great guy, so happy to be getting his plant up and running again that he always sent you off with a haversack full of bottles.