Saturday, June 06, 2009

Cheavin's Water Filter

This photo of Cheavin's Saludor Water Filter is taken at the Methodist Archival Museum in Sibu. This is a ceramic water filter fitted with an amazing filtration system. Doctors and dentists have been known to use them very effectively in the early days of Sibu.

This water purifier from the early 20th century worked on the principle of passing water through a carbon or charcoal filter. It is like water filters in homes today.

The tall stoneware ceramic container has a lead free glaze. Its domed lid has an interior ridge to prevent it from slipping off. Near the base of the container is a hole leading inside the container. A small metal tap blocks the hole, allowing water to be drained out of the container when required. On the outside of the container are the words 'Cheavins Saludor Safe Water Filter. Drinking Water of Absolute Purity, British Made Throughout'.

The filter system was inside the container. The container would be filled with charcoal, and water poured into the top of the container. As the water passed through the charcoal it was cleansed. The clean water was drawn from the bottom of the container through the tap.

Charcoal is pure carbon, made from the partial burning of organic waste. It contains ions that help to kill germs, and it works on the principle of absorption. Large amounts of gases, including poisonous ones, and gases that create bad smells and tastes in water stick to the charcoal. It is porous, and has, therefore, large surface areas that absorb gas.

Dimensions: Height:43cm

In the 1950's my family lived in Pulau Kerto at the Ice Factory and our water supply came straight from the Rajang River with the help of a small pump which my father worked at once in a while. Some of the water we used for washing came directly to the doorstep when the flood water reached the bottom of the stairs.

In the kitchen was this Cheavin's Saludor Water Filter standing at a small counter . I would always remember it as pure tasty water would come out of a tap at the bottom and my mother told me that the water was "spring water" after it was filtered inside the huge cannister. I imagined that I was tapping the water from a series of rocks and the water came out miraculously as Moses' rod struck the rock wall! My mother loved this particular water filter as it was not only a social symbol of well being but a symbol of my father's love for good living and for the family.

Our water filter mysteriously "disappeared" when the family moved lock stock and barrel from the Ice Factory to the house on Kung Ping Road in Sibu. My mother never knew who took it away or why. And father was not a person who would find fault with the movers.

I am sure many families in Sibu continue to keep them as treasures in their homes. This water filter was popularly sold all over the world in 1890-1950's before chlorine treated water supply became the norm. I have read somewhere that the original company which sold Cheavin's Saludor Water Filter was established in Boston USA. However I still need to check this fact out.

At the present moment Singapore History Museum at Riverside Point has one unit for exhibition. I do hope that the unit in our Methodist Archival Museum will continue to help educate our younger generation.

How I wish I still have one now.

18 memories:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! Now I know something else.

As an aside, I've been following you blog for sometime and have finally decided that I'd like to blog as well. But I can't make it so that it can't be copied. I note that yours can't be copied. What function do you use? My blog address is:

Any info you have will be appreciated. Thanks.

peacemaker88 said...

Very interesting article about an artifact we have not seen ! Hope to visit Sibu one day.

sarawakiana said...

Adiya - Do blog and enjoy writing once in a while.....I will email you how I can prevent copying from my blog....thanks.

sarawakiana said...

Thanks for visiting. Not many people know or remember Cheavin's Water Filter today.

Do visit the Methodist Archival Museum. It is near the Methodist Secondary School.

Tom said...

Thank you for the informative posting. I'd just yesterday purchased a similar item but mine says "World Renowned" in the middle between Cheavins and "water filter". Will add it to the furnishings of our 1911 home.
Best regards,

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Dear Tom
Thanks for visiting. Wishing you the best of everything for your home....
Sometimes I wish I could have my own grandfather's stuff in my house that I can re-live those happy days...

Vwell said...

I have one "Cheavins" water filter too, similiarlly but with a 4 ft iron rod stand holding the heavy ceramic water filter body. Am not sure whether the standing frame is part of the original. Our family uses it many years ago for purifying water.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Amazing VWell!!
I am trying to connect people in Borneo with this story but instead I am getting connections from all over the world!!

thanks for writing and stopping by.

May God bless you and your family.

Samuel said...

I have one Cheavin's water filter that I bought many years ago in an antique store near my home in Caracas. I bought it because I remember in the fifties I grew up with one of those decorating my grand mom's kitchen and felt kind of nostalgic.Today, while doing some gardening in my house I saw the old piece siting on one of the tables in the terrace and decided to clean it up and put it to work. Meanwhile when looking at the manufacturer decided to Google search for the brand and your blog pop up with a replica of the one I have.
Was great to know about your history!
Sam Gallego

I Am Sarawakiana said...

How nice that we can tell stories to each other across the seas...


Enjoy the water filter...and I pray one day I will get one from an antique store !!

I often talk to my mom about the water filter and those are our nostalgic moments.

Admin said...

Thanks for the information about this wilter filter ... really helpful

Jack from Salt Free Water Softener

cele said...

Hello, I've a filter just like the picture. It really save my life because I'm celiac and have intolerance to treated water. After years of stomach pain I tried the Cheavin's of my grandfather. It was the solution to my "water trouble". Now I'm looking for another.
I'm from Mendoza, Argentina.

aldrin james said...

In just looking at it in that picture, I can say that it is a good filter. The structure looks so strong. I just wish that I can still buy that kind of water filter.

Aquasana EQ-300

Christopher Christo said...

Hey Friends,

Congratulation to all of you. It is very interesting topic to be posted in this blog. I learned so much here. It is nice blog. Alos it attractive all members. I like it and appreciate your post.

Thanks and Regards.
Patio Heaters

Manuel Long said...

The blog post is great. Keep using the best water filters and keep safe from drinking clean water.

David Otunga said...

Thumbs up guys your doing a really good job.
water treatment

Scott Miller said...

Beautiful! We are offering something similar, the modern version in food grade stainless steel:

Have a look and stay tunes, we are bringing the ceramic one back to life soon! Made here in Canada ; )

B Cheavins said...

I purchased my water filter around four years ago. I went on line to locate it and was surprised to find that it was only a block away from my workplace in Vancouver bc Canada. I purchased it because of the name, mine is Bill Cheavins. My uncle had one as well, which he found in an antique shop in London during the Second World War. If anyone has any further information on the company I would be pleased to know.ican be contacted at

Bill cheavins


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