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Object in Focus: Soda Stream

August 18, 2013

Each month I’ll be showcasing one object from our collection, I’m going to try to choose objects which are unusual, unassuming and not something we would usually draw visitors attention to.


I’m going to start with an object in the first room on the visitor route, the Butler’s Pantry. The object is the soda stream. We often get visitors returning to the reception desk to ask what it is, so I thought it might be a good object to start with.

The machine is approximately 5 feet tall!

The machine is about 5 feet tall!

The first Soda streams were actually made as early as 1903 and were marketed at country houses like Cragside, where they would be used by the Butler to make soda water to mix with spirits for the master of the house. Invented by Guy Hugh Gilbey (of the London gin distillers W & A Gilbey Ltd), they were known as “Apparatus for aerating liquids.”

The soda stream at Cragside is a ‘Prince of Wales’ branded model, which means it dates from after 1928, when the royal household received 2 machines and the Prince of Wales was so impressed he granted them a royal warrant. In fact, our machine is listed in our inventory records as being c1933.

Our Soda Stream was gifted to the National Trust in 1978 and has been displayed in the Butler’s Pantry ever since. This does of course mean that Lord Armstrong, so far as we are aware, did not ever actually get busy with the fizzy. How disappointing!

Prince of Wales Feathers

Prince of Wales Feathers

So there you go, I bet at least some of that comes as a surprise to anyone around in the Soda Stream heyday of the 1980’s, who’d have thought the thing had been around for about 80 years before then!


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