Saturday, 26 February 2011


When Napoleon needed beef to feed his troops, he turned to a butcher in Roslin to assist him in his quest. John Lawson Johnston, born at 29 Main St in Roslin, found that he could not get enough beef, so he developed what was then known as “fluid beef”. This wholesome drink quickly took fire, making Johnston a very wealthy man indeed. He spent some time in Canada and then returned to live in total luxury in London. By 1890, more than 3,000 British pubs were serving up what was, by then, called Bovril. In 1896, Johnston sold his title for the patent for £2,000,000. A phenomenal amount of money in those days. Johnston stayed involved in the company by remaining chairman of the Board. His son also took on the company for a while before he was named Baron Luke. By 1909, Bovril had fast become the favourite warm beverage of football fans.

The next time you are in Roslin, have a look at 29 Main St . You will find a plaque commemorating Johnston above the door. And perhaps wander inside Bovril Johnston’s Coffee Shop and ask for a steaming mug of Bovril.

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