When the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition opened in 1888, produce from the small community of Ulverstone, Tasmania was represented by leather and skins from Mr T. L. Button, ploughs of polished iron and varnished blackwood from Mr L. Titmouse and…..cordials and aerated waters from Mr R. R. Hunter.
Mr Hunter had established a cordial manufacturing plant at Gravel Hill in Ulverstone. In November the following year he sold the business to Mr W. L. Webb, well known in the town as having owned the skating rink and the Ulverstone Hotel.
One of Mr Webb’s specialties was Hop Tonic, which he proudly supplied to customers as far afield as Launceston and Melbourne. However, it seems that trade took a turn for the worse, and in August 1891 The North West Post reported that he was insolvent, with debts of 240 pounds….a very large sum at the time. Subsequent;y he suffered some sort of stroke, and fell into a state of depression due to his inability to find employment.
In January 1894 Webb’s wife Mary found him in a state of collapse, with stomach pain and a terrible thirst. When the doctor arrived she told him that she suspected her husband had taken the poison ‘Rough on Rats’. Sadly, the 45 year old could not be saved. His untimely death signalled the end to the cordial factory and in July 1900 the property passed into the hands of retired Preston farmer Mr W.J. Elliott. (Daily Telegraph 16 July 1900).
AN OLD CORDIAL BOTTLE REVEALS A NEW ERA
In April 1945 Ulverstone resident Mr Fred Rasmus dug up an empty cordial bottle marked E. LYNCH, UVERSTONE. Locals had no memory of the company, but the report of the find in The Advocate helped solve the mystery. Mr C.J. Wright of Wynyard sent the following letter to the paper’s editor on May 10.
I see by The Advocate dated 24/4/45 in the Ulverstone news, that a resident there dug up a cordial bottle branded with the name of E. Lynch. E. Lynch and P. Lynch conducted a cordial factory in Main Street, Ulverstone, in 1915. I personally knew Edward and Peter Lynch when they had their business in Ulverstone, and can vouch for them owning that bottle 30 years ago, as I was a regular customer for their cordials.
E. Lynch was listed among the area’s licensed victuallers in 1911. I wonder what happened to the bottle Mr Rasmus found?
A number of old, stone bottles have survived from yet another manufacturer in the 1920s, Mr Henry Mawer.
Manufacturing aerated waters had some inherent dangers;
Mr H Mawer was the victim of a severe accident in his cordial factory near the wharf, Ulverstone, on Monday afternoon. He was engaged in filling soda water syphons at 170 pounds pressure when a syphon burst, and flew up to the roof, and falling heavily struck Mr. Mawer on the head. The guard was blown off the machine, and the portion of the syphon which struck him weighed about 1 1/2lb. Mr A.A. Devlin motored the victim to Dr. Gollan, and stitches were inserted in the scalp. Some time ago a similar incident occurred, when he had his wrist severely gashed. (Advocate 29 October 1925)
By now the business was outgrowing its premises by the wharf. In 1927 a new building was constructed just off Jermyn Street, a two storey, brick and iron structure with a concrete floor. The latest equipment was installed, including an automated bottle washing system.
Unfortunately, the enterprising Mr Mawer had barely relocated his factory when he fell seriously ill.
He died in November 1928 aged 43, after contracting double pneumonia. It appears he was a victim of pneumonic flu His eldest son Victor was just 19 at the time, but carried on the business with his mother into the late 1930s.
Almost every town in Tasmania had a cordial factory, right up until the 1960s. I grew up in Ulverstone and have a vague memory of drinking local Leven Cordial. However, the brand I most remember is Te-up, made along the coast at Devonport. Along with boiled lollies from Coles it is responsible for many of my fillings!