Even if you were to only visit Bath for a couple of hours, you couldn’t help but come away knowing that Bath’s very foundations were built on the mineral-rich springs that flow beneath the city’s historical Roman remains; heck, there’s water, water everywhere. But two years ago there was not a drop of locally sourced H2 0 in a bottle to drink. “Given the city’s history, surely we can do a bit better than that,” said Rachel Allen – and the idea of Bath Water was born. Melissa Blease gets the low down
The Bath Water story goes something like this: in October 2016, Rachel Allen, her husband Mark and their friend Jonathan Willis were having lunch in a city centre restaurant. They ordered water for the table… and a bottle sourced from Scotland appeared. “We asked ourselves, why hasn’t Bath got its very own brand of water?” Rachel recalls. “And so, we went to work. We started laying the foundations of the business in November 2016, founded the company in March 2017 and started trading in May last year.”
In a very short space of time, Bath Water has made quite a splash. Local businesses lent their full support to the initiative, and a solid customer base was swiftly established. Meanwhile, the company’s high profile at events such as the Gourmet Picture Company’s screenings in Royal Victoria Park, the Bath Boules event and their role as Official Hydration Partner of Bath Rugby (established last August) has changed thirst-quenching habits across the city. But it hasn’t all been easy-drinking at Bath Water HQ…
“As you’d imagine, there’s far more involved to launching a new brand of bottled water than just sticking a label on a bottle,” says Rachel. “There’s been an awful lot of work to do from start to finish, from complying with various legislations, branding and packaging to finding the right partners to support and help promote us. But Mark has been launching products and services for Blue Chip and SME clients for the last 20 years, and I’ve worked extensively in PR and media as well as supporting new businesses and marketing initiatives in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods food and drink sector. As a team, we have all the right skills at our fingertips.” And, it turns out, a great deal of inspiration to drive the company’s ambitions forward.
Bath Water continues the tradition started by Victorian entrepreneur Jonathan Burdett Bowler of providing a natural spring water, drawn from the original source of Bath’s spring water from organic Mendip Hills land. With an almost perfect PH of 7.3, it has a fantastically clear, fresh taste – and the bottle is equally refreshing too; plonk it on a supper table alongside the prerequisite bottles of wine and it naturally creates an interesting talking point.
“We wanted the very look of Bath Water to capture our passion for our city and locally sourced produce,” Rachel explains. “Essentially, we aimed to put Bath in a bottle. Using an obvious play on words in creating the brand, we aimed to capture the essence of leisure and fun for which Bath is renowned, while honouring our local culture and history. The label takes you through a journey of Bath’s heritage, incorporating Bath’s founder King Bladud and his pigs in 863BC, and the most famous of Bath landmarks, the Royal Crescent.”But while Rachel acknowledges that sharing a vision with people who are equally passionate about working towards the same goal and gaining the support and backing of local businesses has gone a long way to helping the Bath Water team turn their dreams into reality, their mission has not been without its challenges.
“We’re a tiny company, so we’re pretty much on the case 24/7,” she says. “Even when we managed to take a short break abroad last summer, there was a hiccup with our delivery driver; we flew back to Bristol airport, drove straight to our warehouse to collect the van and delivered to all our customers on time – but that kind of immediate response is the nature of the business’s beast at this stage. “Working days can be very long, too, and we often find ourselves working late into the night, which can make it hard to switch off. As full-time working parents, it’s not always easy to maintain the work/life balance either, but family and friends are a great support in emergencies. Oh, and we try our best not to talk about the business during family mealtimes, but sometimes that’s impossible.”
Such stresses don’t detract, however, from the company’s pipeline plans for further development. Rachel, Mark and Jonathan want to expand Bath Water into other regions in the UK as well as international markets including Europe, Japan, China, South Africa and Canada, following interest from distributors at the Speciality and Fine Food Fair in London’s Olympia last September. The Bath Rugby sponsorship, too, has created yet another wave of buoyancy that further establishes Bath Water’s tide of success. “Mark is a very keen Bath Rugby fan, so he was especially delighted when we negotiated our Official Hydration Partner sponsorship. Bath Rugby are avid supporters of local businesses so, combined with Mark’s passion and loyalty to the club, we make a great team. We were able to supply a sports cap, easy-drink bottle for the squad that got us off to a great start, and they love it. We also supply Farleigh House HQ (on the club’s training ground) and the Recreation Ground bars and hospitality areas with our large 750ml bottles.”
Phew! But even with so much going on, the Bath Water team still make time to kick back and relax when their schedule permits – and when downtime arrives, they make the very most of the lively food and drink scene on our doorsteps. “The cafés, bars, hotels and restaurants in Bath are the life-blood of the city, and our fellow local independent business need all the support we can offer them,” says Rachel. “We visit our indies at every opportunity; our favourites include the Green Bird Café, No 15 Great Pulteney, the Porter, Corkage, the Hare and Hounds, Society Café, the Circus Restaurant and The Bath Priory for special occasions.”
Whatever the occasion, make it memorable by raising a glass to Bath Water: one of the city’s most refreshing local businesses.
Summer Serving Suggestions
Muddle a handful of quartered fresh strawberries, a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice and a few sprigs of fresh basil together in a jug. Top up with a 750ml bottle of sparkling Bath Water and add ice to serve.
Mingle the juice from 3 freshly-squeezed oranges with 2 tablespoons of runny honey or maple syrup. Serve diluted with still or sparkling Bath Water to taste; and add ice to serve.
Combine the juice from 6 freshly-squeezed lemons with 3 level tablespoons of sugar in a small pan; heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved (around 2–3 minutes.) Transfer to a jug and allow to cool before topping up with still or sparkling Bath Water and ice.