BOB BURLISON of Chester-le-Street has kindly shown us this Wood & Watson of Durham bottle which he has had for decades.

“My mother knew someone who lived at Gilesgate only a couple of yards from their pop factory, so I used to go for walks round there,” he says. “Wood & Watson produced a pop that was very common in the north of the county.”

The firm was started by Joseph Wood in Bedlington, who was a spirit merchant and mineral water manufacturer. In the 1890s, his son, William Henry Wood, in partnership with Watson, his brother-in-law, set up in Gilesgate.

Their factory backed on to the Pelaw Wood Dene, which drops towards the Wear, and for many years they tossed old bottles down there.

As well as bottling beer, the factory produced all sorts of soft fizzy drinks like lemonade and cream soda, and, we think, a coca-cola-like drink called Wotcheor.

“Wotcheor” was once a popular greeting in the North-East. It was the Geordie version of the Cockneys’ “Wotcha”, meaning “what cheer?”, or, “How are you?”.

In the 1940s and 1950s there was a popular BBC programme on the wireless called “Wotcheor, Geordie” in which regional comedians appeared from Newcastle.

Wood & Watson must have adopted this for their pop.

The company was still going in 1996 when it sold its Gilesgate factory for housing – St Giles’ Close is now on its site.

We’d love to hear from anyone with anymore information about Wood & Watson or, indeed, anyone who still says “Wotcheor”. Please email