Little Eaton Local History Society

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We have this message from Adam Marriott -


I found a few broken ones of these in the brook 20 years ago but managed to buy a whole one on eBay today... "W Booker Excelsior Works" Little Eaton... was a mineral water or lemonade / fizzy pop bottle probably 1860-90s...

Any ideas or further info on them? Other than the bust ones which came out behind the old post office in the brook, I have never seen any others.

Another picture from Adam Marriott –


As far as I know about 20 years ago Matthew Carter (whose parents lived at The Limes) and Will Thomas and I went searching the brook for treasure. We found quite a lot including the iron wheel from the gang way now in Belper Mill museum. The two bottles came from behind the old post office where I presume they just tipped their domestic rubbish to get rid. There were about 3 Booker bottles all the same with a man and flag with Excelsior Works in the front but never found any reference or info. Obviously the stone jar was from the brewery next to the farm on the Duffield Road.

bottle flagon

Can You Help?



Wheatley Booker was born at Ebrington, Gloucestershire about 1853/4 the son of Francis and Mary.


Wheatley married Martha Goodwin at St. Paul’s church in Little Eaton in 1874. Banns were published 14/21/28 June so the wedding would have been in July. Banns say both were living in Little Eaton.


In 1871 he is described as an apprentice at engine fitting and in 1881 as a fitter – engineering factory. St. Paul’s baptism register describes him as a mechanic up to 4th February 1881, as an engine fitter on 18th February 1883 and as a mineral water manufacturer at 16 March 1885 and at 6th March 1887. There are no further parish records for the family after 1887.


Wheatley and Martha had at least 8 children born in Little Eaton.


Wheatley’s Business is far from clear.

As a mechanic there is no indication of who he worked for other than the term “engine fitter”. If this was railway engines then it would be the Midland Railway at Derby. At that date it could also refer to traction engines or industrial engines.

As a manufacturer of mineral waters, probably lemonade or ginger beer, little is known.

The bottles are inscribed “W. Booker, Little Eaton” and have a figure waving a banner letterhead “Excelsior Works”.

Interestingly there was quite a large manufactures of this name in Derby (4 miles away).

Wheatley may have been bottling their product under licence. We do not know nor do we know how long this business lasted. What we do know is that the bottles with Little Eaton on are very rare.


In 1881 the family resided in two properties before the Anchor Inn.

It would appear they were either in arrow just south of the Anchor Inn or in the cottages behind the Anchor Inn. At that time Alfreton Road ran between the Anchor Inn and the cottages.


What happened to the family after 1881 is difficult to determine. In 1901 Robert, the eldest son, was boarding with a family in Manchester and was a steam engine fitter.

As for the rest of the family there is a possibility they moved to London and also to America. (More research required)


Sources - Philip Thomas  and St. Paul’s church records



Kevin Redfern sent the following.






Adam, I have got two w. Booker bottles of different sizes. Also Two flagons from the brewery at Little Eaton which are different print your information on the Booker family was very interesting. best regards Kevin Redfern, Ilkeston.