Mannina Herbal Ointment Company
The ”Mannina” Herbal Ointment Company was founded in 1900 by Llewellyn Y. Williams at a time when medical science was just beginning to advance and find answers to questions which had vexed doctors for centuries. Open any newspaper for the period 1880 – 1920 and you will find many advertisements for various patent medicines. It was also a time when people still had faith in folk remedies and were prepared to try any herbal compound when all else had failed.
Llewellyn Y. Williams, born in 1864, was of an old and esteemed North Pembrokeshire family. As a young man he spend some time in South Africa and from there according to the advertising material, the ointment formula and brand name was appropriated. The remedy was a blend of South African herbs and green in colour. So far research has not rediscovered the ingredients of this herbal based ointment.
The ointment was packed and sold in white glazed stone jars. The lids were decorated and printed with the product details in black. The ointment was produced in three strengths No. 1 Full, No. 2 Medium and No.3 Mild. There was a choice of three sizes.
The Ointment was not only advertised in the “County Echo”, a North Pembrokeshire newspaper, but also in a number of South Wales and English provincial publications. The advertising was placed with George Newnes Ltd., who owned six magazines including “Tit-bits” and “Woman’s Life”. It appears that advertising was also placed with the Ross Advertising Agency of London who, for 2/9 (14p) a time, would place a two line advertisement in 60 provincial newspapers.
Cuttings of Mannina advertisements in the “County Echo” and accompanying testimonials have also been preserved. Testimonials were always much sought after by manufacturers for inclusion in their advertising.
From letters surviving from between 1904 and 1908 sales appear to have been quite buoyant. Requests for the Ointment came from all over South Wales and from as far afield as Preston in Lancashire, Surbiton in Surrey and Barnstaple in Devon. While the product was also stocked by chemists in Britain and Ireland as letters from Armagh and Torquay prove.
No sales ledgers or financial information have come to light except for a few details written on the front and back of a sheet of the company’s notepaper and a list of newspapers with notes on their advertising charges. It is therefore impossible to assess the actual success of the venture. Although the Ointment was still being advertised in the “County Echo” as late as 1913, it is more than likely that the enterprise was ailing as by 1920 it had ceased to trade although it was still listed in “Kelly’s Trade Directory” for 1923.
The death of Mr Llewellyn Y. Williams in 1947, at the age of 83, was not the end of the story. The sequel came in the early 1970’s with the demolition of a small cottage at the back of the old Great Western Hotel, down Magic Lane, off Main Street, Fishguard with the discovery of a large number of stone pots bearing the name of the “MANNINA OINTMENT COMPANY”. It was this intriguing find that triggered off the enquiry to uncover the Company’s origins.
With thanks to Mrs Janet Bennett-Howell for permission to publish this article written in 1988 by her husband, the late Mr David Bennett-Howell