Fond memories of Fudge’s Firewater are stirred

Fond memories of Fudge’s Firewater are stirred


It’s rare that a medicinal nostrum from a bygone era is held in high regard.
Images of snake oil salesmen plying their dubious wares from roadside stalls spring to mind.
But in Bridport there was one medicinal product the locals swore by for more than 50 years – Fudge’s Mentholated Honey Syrup – known affectionately as Fudge’s Firewater.
Essentially a local variant of Gee’s Linctus, the main ingredients of Fudge’s Firewater were a camphorated tincture of opium and oxymel of squill, a mixture of honey and vinegar made from the squill plant macerated in acetic acid.
It also contained tolu syrup, a sap-like substance from the Balsam tree, to which menthol was added.
Fudge’s Firewater was created and sold by pharmacist Kenneth Fudge from his Bridport pharmacy at 7 West Allington in the 1950s.
In an abstract paper on Fudge’s Firewater, organic chemist Professor Philip Strange writes: “Most nostrums ceased to be available after the implementation of the 1968 Medicines Act, but ‘Fudge’s Firewater’ survived into the 21st Century.
“Many local people had fond memories of the product, and Fudge’s Firewater soon entered local folklore…people’s experiences of it have been captured by means of a ‘Memories of Fudges Firewater’ page on Facebook.”
The tale of Fudge’s Firewater begins with its creator, Kenneth Charles Fudge, who was born and raised in Blandford. After working as an apprentice pharmacist in his hometown, he qualified in his own right in 1933.
Records show he spent the early part of his career in London, but he would later move back to West Dorset and open his West Allington pharmacy next to Balsons butcher’s shop.
In his paper, Professor Strange writes that Fudge’s was ‘a traditional pharmacy that sold the usual range of toiletries, cosmetics and photographic requisites, in addition to having a thriving trade in the sale of over-the-counter medicines and a busy prescription dispensing service.’
He adds: “A Kodak sign was displayed prominently above the door, and attention to the pharmacy was drawn by a magnificent sign on which the word ‘chemist’ appeared below a mortar and pestle and which hung above the shop window.
“The only downside was that the street outside was subject to occasional flooding.”
In 1973, Mr Fudge retired and transferred the recipe for his famous firewater to Joe Sparrow at 24 East Street Pharmacy.
The recipe would change hands several times over the coming decades along with ownership of the pharmacy business.
It wasn’t until 2006 that then pharmacy owners Moss Chemists (later Alliance Pharmacy) ceased production of Fudge’s Firewater at its Bridport branch.
From 2006 to 2009 a variant of Fudge’s Firewater was still available, with a private prescription, at Weymouth’s St John’s Pharmacy.
Much to the disappointment of many, Fudge’s Firewater was no longer available after 2009.
The ‘Memories of Fudge’s Firewater’ page has 67 likes and dozens of comments, such as: ‘It tasted like red diesel mixed with the finest brandy – lovely’ and another commentor pleading: ‘Surely there must be a chemist in Devon or Dorset that can make Fudge’s Firewater?’
It seems like there’s several West Dorset residents out there who would love to see this old fashioned cure-all make a triumphant comeback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *