ENO, James Crossley 1820-1915. Maker of fruit salts. Eno was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where his parents kept a general shop. He was apprenticed to a druggist and in 1846 was appointed dispenser at the Old Infirmary, Newcastle at £60 a year. In 1852 he acquired a chemist and druggist business, practised dentistry at the Old Infirmary, sold human and animal medicines and three products under his own label - a tooth enamel for DIY fillings, a hair restorer and a treated linseed oil for poultices.

Having thus tested his business ability, Eno began to make the fruit salts that made his name a household word. The fruit salts were a mixture of tartaric acid, citric acid and sodium bicarbonate. This produced an effervescent drink when stirred into water. The bicarbonate was a product of the Tyneside alkali industry. For the next twenty years he continued to describe himself as a dispensing chemist and dental surgeon. He marketed his fruit salts by giving free samples to the ships’ captains who tied up at Newcastle Quay, thereby ensuring that his name and his product travelled around the world. Prescriptions of a similar nature were probably common knowledge but Eno’s success was due to commercial enterprise rather than scientific insight.

In 1876 he left the practice of retail pharmacy and dentistry for the large scale manufacture of his fruit salts in London. He acquired Wood Hall in College Road as his residence and a factory in Pomeroy Street, New Cross. He then began to compose his characteristic advertisements, the concentrated texts of which he always wrote himself. In an era when proprietary remedies were flaunted with exorbitant bombast, Eno restricted his claims to success against biliousness, feverishness, sleeplessness, headaches and ‘sudden changes in the weather’. He contributed £10,000 to the new infirmary in Newcastle in 1899. He died in London in 1915 at the age of 95 leaving over £1.6 million.

Brian Green