A Favourite Childhood Drink And Things That Happened In My Home Town



This has been inspired by a number of things, and I would like to share them with you and tell you things that you might not know and that might interest you.

A few weeks ago I enjoyed a can of sparkling Vimto and it made me think of a funny joke by Dr. John Cooper Clarke:

“Did you hear about the dyslexic Manc rock star?

He drowned in his own vimto”

This was my piece when I met the great man:

Then a few interesting things came up in the final chapter of “The Pie At Night” by Stuart Maconie, which meant I could finally put this piece together.

Temperance, Vimto and Preston

You may or may not know that I originate from Preston in Lancashire, although I have lived in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne for the last thirty five years, but I am going back to Preston next week and that will give me material for a few more stories. These are a few of mine that have referenced Preston (unfortunately it’s just a black Vocal image but if you want to see more click it):

As a kid, I loved Vimto cordial, and I still like it today, but don’t drink it all that often, but maybe I will get some today. You can find out more about it on their website here.

I know this story will be all over the place but it is all connected and hope it makes sense by the time I conclude.

In the last chapter of “The Pie At Night” Mr Maconie brought up the subject of Temperance Bars and the Temperance movement. I know this is a long quote and hope it doesn’t make me a plagiarist but Stuart encapsulates the link between the Temperance Movement, the invention of Vimto and it’s hugely deserved popularity.

Oddly, given the north’s enthusiasm for pubs (or maybe because of it), the temperance movement began here in Preston in 1832. The Chartists worked a radical riff on this, trying to move it away from its catholic basis into what they called ‘temperance Chartism’ and seeing the quest for working-class sobriety going hand in hand with the demand for workers’ voting rights.

Temperance bars were once widespread across the north with one on most high streets. Now only one remains, Fitzpatrick’s of Rawtenstall, serving sarsaparilla and dandelion & burdock, black beer and raisin, ginger cordial, cream soda, lemon & ginger and blood tonic.

One of the most popular soft drinks in the world was invented as a direct response to the burgeoning temperance movement. In 1908, in Granby Row in downtown Manchester, John Nichols created a new health cordial called Vim Tonic and it soon became a hit in the region’s temperance bars.

The name soon became shortened to Vimto, and it is still with us and thriving. In fact, I went to its hundredth birthday party in a fashionable Manchester bar and met the current Nichols family, who still run the company.

Mr Nichols told me that the drink is hugely popular in the Arab world, especially at Ramadan, when it is regarded as a smart and gluggable after-sunset tipple

I didn’t realise it was popular in the Arab world, but it is very moreish (and that is not meant to be a pun).

Preston was also the location of the first ever UK Kentucky Fried Chicken. I remember when I first went in (in the nineteen sixties) being shocked that they did not have real plates and cutlery.


Thank you so much for reading, and I hope this has made you smile and told you things about me that you didn’t know and made you want to try Vimto.

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