A northern classic, Vimto has a strong legion of fans who stretch all over the world to places as far flung as the Gulf and the Solomon Islands. Yet none more so than in Manchester where a shrine to commemorate the birthplace of the drink was created by Kerry Morrison in 1992.
It’s located in Granby Row near the University of Manchester’s Sackville Street building and opposite the old site of the number 49 warehouse where the secret red fruit recipe was first brewed by herbalist (John) Noel Nichols in 1908.
Seeing a market for the soft drink due to the growing influence of the Temperance Movement he began to sell it to bars and shops in the area. Originally called ‘Vim Tonic’ due to its alleged ability to revitalise its drinkers he re-branded it as Vimto in 1912.
First commercially making and bottling the purple in Chapel Street, Salford Nichols and his family moved to Ayres Road in Old Trafford then factories in Wythenshawe and Golborne, near Haydock before handing over manufacturing to another company.
From celebrity fans such as Peter Kay, who revealed that he once asked Jim’ll Fix it for a swimming pool full of the purple liquid, to citizens of some parts of the Middle East where it is said to be a favourite Ramadan drink its distinct and quirky flavour has captured the affections of many.
So much so that the University of Manchester arranged for Nick Lumb from Acorn Furniture in Wrexham to refurbish the oak statue in 2011 to repair wear and tear. Although some of the fruits have disappeared, presumably to the homes of over-excited Vimto fans, its bright primary-coloured look provides a welcome surprise for anyone wondering the streets in the Manchester drizzle.