scotland (4K)
The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator

Lovat Pride Mineral Water

One of our interests is the advancement of freight on the Far North Line hence we are supportive of Companies making use of the national rail network to distribute local products. One such Company is Lovat Pride (Mineral Water) Limited.

When the then Lord Lovat, Simon Fraser formed his company in 1991 it was with the vision of becoming a nationally recognised supplier of mineral water. So at an initial cost of £5 million construction work started on a site at Finellan, 3 miles to the west of Beauly and 12 miles from Inverness, with production beginning in late August 1992. At the time the Company was known as Lovat Mineral Water Scotland (L.M.W.S.). However, after initial success, the Company ran into difficulties and in June 1994 it was acquired by the Gerber Food Group. After prolonged analysis and in depth market research, the name was changed to Lovat Pride (Mineral Water) Ltd.

The bottling plant is approximately 300 feet above sea level with a catchment area of 300 acres which is protected from farming of any kind. Close to these grounds stands Beaufort Castle, the traditional home of the Clan Fraser, and the spring of pure natural water which bubbles through the grounds has fed the Castle since 1691. The water bottled at Finellan has been naturally filtered through deep layers of sandstone and detailed scientific analysis has confirmed that it is among the purest naturally occurring mineral waters in Europe. This, allied to the Company's bottling procedures, ensures there is no loss of quality before reaching the consumer. The production facility consists of two lines producing around 10 million litres a year. Products are both still and carbonated.

After the initial problems, and with the support of Gerber behind it, Lovat Pride supplies consumers on a national basis. As Plant Manager Mr. Paul Nicholson said, "Our continuing aim is, as it always has been, to provide customers with a better service as they are the mainstay of any company, and to further this aim we produce what is arguably the purest of mineral waters."

The plastic bottles and caps for the mineral water are delivered by road from Belgium. Plastic bottles come as "preforms" which are about 5 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. They go through a £1 million machine using a heat and compressed air process to turn them into plastic bottles. Glass bottles come by road from Alloa and labels come from the United Kingdom.

The bottled mineral water is then distributed by road and rail. Norfrost deliver pallets from Beauly to Inverness (Milburn). Four rail wagons, in the Company's colours, a day take the bottled water to rail depots at Birmingham, Blackburn and Dagenham for onward delivery by road.

Technical details

Wagons: VGA, built late 1970s, aluminium body; 75mph <22 tonnes, 60mph> 22 tonnes; 12.9m load length ( 2 x 12 pallets per side); Access height 2.2m; Loaded by forklift truck.