Historical information

This soda syphon (or siphon) was distributed by John Fletcher of Warrnambool, and made by the British Syphon Mfg. Co. Ltd. of London between the 1900s-1930s. It comprises a multi-sided clear glass bottle, an internal glass tube and a metal release valve and spout on the top. It was used to dispense pressurised, effervescent soda water. It was often used as an alternative to water or added to fruit juices and cordials.

The text on this bottle states that it remains the property of the retailer, John Fletcher, and must be returned to him. Customers were asked for a deposit on the bottle, which would be refunded when the bottle was exchanged or continued as the deposit on a fresh bottle. Returned bottles would be cleaned and recharged with the gas and sold again.

Soda syphon are bottles, glass or metal, with a release valve and spout on the top. The valve lever on the top of the syphon, when depressed, causes the gas in the syphon to force the water up through the tube and out of the spout. The bottle’s mechanism gives the water an effervescent quality to make bubbly drinks such as sparkling mineral water, soda water and sparkling water.

John Fletcher bought the Union Cordial Factory in Koroit Street, Warrnambool that was previously owned by John Davis. Fletcher operated the factory as J Fletcher, John Fletcher and Fletcher’s.

He eventually sold his business and stock in 1930 to Ralph Reeves, who may have continued using Fletcher’s supply of drink containers before renewing them with stock showing his own brand.


The soda syphon is representative of drink containers used in the later 19th and early 20th century. It also represents the system of returnable, recyclable containers.

Physical description

Soda syphon (or siphon). Glass bottle, clear, multi sided, tapered from a heavy glass base to a narrower shoulder, with glass tube at centre connected to metal pump mechanism at the top. Has elaborate frosted label for J. Fletcher of Warrnambool. Made by the British Syphon Mfg. Co. Ltd. London. Bottle remains the property of John Fletcher, Warrnambool.

Inscriptions & markings

Metal syphon has impressed "J FLETCHER" and logo "S S" in centre of two concentric circles with text between circles "BRITISH SYPHON MFG. CO. LTD. LONDON". Etched into glass "J. FLETCHER / WARRNAMBOOL", "TRADE "[stylised] F" / MARK", "SODA WATER", "THIS SYPHON IS THE PROPERTY / OF JOHN FLETCHER / WARRNAMBOOL AND CONNOT BE / AND CONNOT BE LEGALLY USED BY OTHERS / BRITISH SYPHON CO. TLD. LONDON / - - - - "