The Voice in your Community


Lank’s Lore

by Steve ‘Lank’ Lavin
Golden Memories from one of Uttoxeter’s Favourite Characters

April 6th 2020



WELL, what do you reckon about this new scare going about the media the new ‘Big C’ CORONAVIRUS!!

It’s frightening really to think that it has now been classed as a pandemic. At the time of writing this column in the UK there has been 1543 confirmed cases and 55 deaths. I suppose this is a very small percentage of the countries population of about 67,000,000 and not a great deal compared to outbreaks of flu which killed alone over 26,000 people in 2017-18 and road deaths amounted to 1,870 with nearly 26,000 seriously injured, but where is it all going to end with the virus still in its early days yet.

I do know whether or not that this country is overreacting or not including all the media hype that is going on, but I do no that it now becoming an absolute nightmare for people.

The media are putting stories around that are scaring the pants off everyone including that if you are over 70 years of age you have got to self isololate yourself in your home for 4 months. What are people living alone who venture out to get a bit of company going to do, commit a crime and get sent to prison to get a bit, to me loneliness is a bigger killer than the coronavirus will ever be.

Already I have seen cases of people being isolated in there hotel rooms when they have been on holiday for a short break, what sort of holiday is that.

Now the major holiday companies have cancelled the majority of their overseas package holidays indefinitely and the airlines have stopped all flights to some major holiday destinations.

Luckily, as far as I am aware, everyone who has had a holiday booking cancelled has received full compensation, so good luck to the holiday companies in the future they will certainly need it and they themselves should be compensated for their loss of revenue and playing their part in trying to quell this nasty virus.

Sporting events, football, rugby and the likes of together with mass gatherings of people have been cancelled there is even talk now about cancelling further major annual events including the Grand National and the London Marathon Race.

I have seen with my own eyes people panic buying at supermarkets, toilet rolls especially, I do not know why these are so important what’s wrong with using newspaper like we had to years ago! What ever next I wonder.

To me though, all these precautions are probably the right course of action, it is not a time for fear but a time for taking action now to prevent coronavirus infections and save lives.

Fear and panic does not help. People can have concerns and rightly so. People can be worried and rightly so. But the main thing is to calm down and do the right thing to fight this very dangerous situation.

I also hope that it doesn’t all end up with sirens. flashing lights, ambulances, face masks, tape cordons and the creeping fear that goes with all of it wherever you go in the future time to come.

I do not know where the name Coronavirus originated from but the word Corona reminds me of the Corona pop you used to buy when you where young in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

I am sure that anyone born in these eras must remember it well, it was a very popular product countrywide.

I can remember the Corona Man selling it door to door to houses down our street when I was a lad and the adverts on the TV in the 60’s featuring the comedian Dave King who was very popular at that time.

Also their advert on the TV in the 70’s with a bubble singing and narrating their slogan “Every Bubble’s passed its FIZZical” in a Sargeant Bilko type voice.

When I first saw the name ‘Corona’ reappear unfortunately as a very serious disease and not the the pop I enjoyed drinking in my younger years it made me wonder if the brand was still been manufactured as I had never seen it about for years although nowadays unlike years ago I am not a big ‘Pop’ drinker.

What better than finding out the facts on my very helpful computer search engine ‘Google’ and the website “Wikipedia”.

According to the site the Corona brand was started in the 1920’s by Thomas & Evans, 2 Welsh men who in the 1890’s been producing Thomas & Evans Welsh Hills soft drinks in the hope they could gain a foothold in public houses as a non-alcoholic alternative. This was an unsuccessful venture, and Evans was forced to find an alternative market for his drinks. Evans struck upon the idea of selling door-to-door using horse and wagon, and soon his venture became a success, with the company branching into other more child-friendly flavours, such as orangeade, dandelion and burdock, raspberryade and lemonade. By the turn of the century the company had over 200 salesman delivering drinks by horse-drawn delivery wagon across Wales, and two massive steam-driven vehicles.

In the early 1920s Evans decided to re-brand his soft drinks and chose the name Corona. A logo was devised consisting of seven wire topped bottles fanned to represent a crown over the new name (corona is Latin for crown). The brand was extremely successful and expanded across south Wales, and at its peak the company had 82 distribution depots and five factories, at Porth, Tredegar, Pengam, Maesteg and Bridgend. Although a common and popular sight throughout Wales, the horse-drawn wagons were phased out during the early 1930s and replaced by a fleet of motor vehicles. These vehicles, recognizable by their red and gold livery and Corona logo, were serviced and repaired by the company's own engineering shop attached to the Porth factory.By 1934 the Porth depot had 74 vehicles and three years later that number had risen to 200.

In 1934 William Evans died and the role of chairman and managing director was taken over by his brother Frank, a role he would maintain until 1940. Under Frank Evans' management the company continued to grow and by the end of the decade the factories of Wales were producing 170 million bottles a year. With the outbreak of war in 1939, many of Thomas and Evans motor vehicles were commandeered by the government for war service. This, along with petrol rationing, saw a brief reintroduction of the horse and wagon delivery service. With the end of the war in 1945, the company went back into full production and reintroduced a motorized fleet. In 1950 the firm launched Tango, an enduring brand that is still in production. Its finances were run by Frank Webster in 1950 who proposed the name Tango.

In 1958 the company was bought by The Beecham Group, who kept the Corona brand. Although production continued to be centralised in South Wales, depots began to appear all over the United Kingdom. With the rise of supermarkets in the late 1960s and 1970s the public's shopping habits changed and the door-to-door sales dropped.

In 1987 the company again changed hands coming under the ownership of Britvic Soft Drinks. Britvic closed the Welsh Hills plant in Porth in 1987 with production being transferred to Bolton in England until it ceased in the late 1990’s.

In 2000 the old Corona factory in Porth was converted into a music recording studio named ‘The Pop Factory’.

I hope I haven’t bored you with these gems of information but the “Corona” brand brings back some very happy memories of my childhood days.

Till next time.