This item was found on site during the restoration of New Lanark that began in the late 1970s. In comparing the design of bottles over the years it appears as though the date of the bottle is sometime during the late 1940s. The shape of the bottle was designed in the form of “BA BRU” who was featured in the long running cartoon strip that advertised the product, which began in 1930 until the early 1970s. Ba-Bru was inspired by the character of “Sabu” in Rudyard Kipling’s book “Sab: The Elephant Boy”.
During the 1830s, Robert Barr started a family business of cork cutting in Falkirk. In 1857, Robert’s son, Robert decided to start selling aerated waters (soft drinks) out of Glasgow. During the nineteenth century, Scotland had problems with poor sanitation due to the industrial revolution. As a result, soft drinks became popular as they were guaranteed to be a safe, quality drink for people.
Iron Brew was officially launched in 1901 and featured Adam Brown on the design label, who was a famous highland athlete from Shotts. The production of Iron Brew stopped during the second war as it was not a designated “standard drink” and as a result of shortages of raw materials, production temporarily shut down. With their re-launch in 1947, the brand also changed their name due to emerging food labeling regulations enforced by the Government and since the beverage was neither brewed nor made of Iron, they changed their name to IRN BRU.
Today, Scotland remains one of the only countries where IRN BRU is more popular than Coca Cola.
Holly – New Lanark Archive Intern