Following a campaign over social and written media we appear to have uncovered the roots behind the #koalamystery.
It all started when John Redman from Malvern’s St Ann’s Well presented Holywell Malvern Spring Water Director Rhys Humm with a bottle that had washed up following a recent downpour. Found at the back off St Ann’s Well, the bottle was embossed along the base with ‘Holy Well Spring (Malvern) Ltd but also mysteriously included, two thirds of the way up, an embossed koala bear! With many details of the Holywell spring’s history dating back to 1558, the koala was a patch of the rich tapestry that had been previously out of view to the current custodians and potentially lost to the depths of time forever.
As such a public campaign was opened up to see if there was anyone still living who may be able to shed light on this most unusual piece of history. There were many questions to be answered such as who bottled this water- during what period of time and not least why a koala bear??! Suggestions came flooding in, ranging from insightful perceptions such as the etymology of the word koala (which literally means without water, as the Antipodean creature takes all of its nutrients exclusively from the eucalyptus plant), to perhaps like PG Tips using monkeys, it had no relevance to the brand other than a little fun! One of the best puns that was sent in suggested that it related to the time when ‘Coca Koala owned Malvern Water’!!
Real progress was made on the story when local historian Brian Iles uncovered some Holywell Koala Labels from his records showing Pineapple Squash and Dandelion & Burdock soft drinks depicted with colourful images of unusual animal. Furthermore, a couple visited the Holywell who had worked there in the early 1950’s (they met working there and subsequently married) who helped further unravel the mystery:
In the mid 1950’s JH Cuff & Co wound up their operation and for a year or so a German gentleman by the name of Wenlock bottled Bush Bay Beverages from the Holywell Spring! The koala was used as the brand with soft fruit drinks sold in, amongst other places, Woolworths!’