A Mystery item?
Actually, this item is not really a mystery for we know just what its purpose was.
This piece of wood is about 4 cm diameter and a similar height. Maybe seeing the maker’s name might offer a clue.
It was made by Bratby & Hinchliffe of Manchester, Glasgow and London.
The device was clearly useful for we have another at Market Lavington Museum, almost identical but made locally.
A search on the web gives us the information that Bratby and Hinchliffe was founded in 1864. In 1961 they employed 300 people. They were making soft drink and mineral water bottling equipment.
This item performs the opposite of bottling mineral water. Its job was to open bottles to get the fizzy drink out. It worked with codd bottles, those old bottles that had an internally trapped marble acting as a stopper – held in place by the pressure of the drink. A user simply put the device on the bottle to form a kind of cap. When it was pushed down, the central pole in the cap pushed the marble in and then the drink could be poured out.
Here we see the opener on a codd bottle on the kitchen table at Market Lavington Museum.
Like every item in the museum, this bottle opener has a local connection. This one was used by a family that lived on White Street, Market Lavington.