Mineral water from the spring at West Tilbury Hall was discovered in a well owned by Mr Kellaway. When the contents were analysed, word of its medicinal powers began to spread. The water was particularly promoted by prominent doctors of the time, including Sir Hans Sloane (President of the Royal College of Physicians), but also by writer John Andree (1699-1785), who published 'An Account of the Tilbury Waters' in 1736.
The water appears to have been used most commonly in the treatment of bowel disorders, and was claimed to greatly improve digestion. Its popularity lasted throughout the reigns of George II and III, but not without the threat of competition from a rival spring at the Rectory, West Tilbury. The establishing of this alternative medicinal water caused a great rift between the London agents of the two brands. Around 1783, a broadsheet was printed for John Ellison, the representative of the West Tilbury Hall water, which stated that an 'inferior' water was being distributed in bottles similar to his own. He warned against confusion between the two, and promised to clarify the situation by marking all his bottles with his own name and the words 'West Tilbury Hall'. This is true of the bottle currently owned by the museum, which bears the lettering I.E. WEST TILBURY HALL.
- Panorama 3, p45-46
- Panorama 10, p11