In October 1909 Mr. Walter Edgar Barrett was busy enlarging his factory to fit a new state of the art carbonating machine. At the time Mr. Barrett of Summer Street, Orange was the owner of the largest aerated water, cordial and ice works in the Western Districts and had recently been awarded prizes for his ‘non-intoxicating ale’ at the Royal Agricultural Show.
Barrett’s Cordial Factory, Orange, Catholic Press, Sydney, Thursday 14 October 1909
The Barrett’s cordial empire started with Walter’s father Thomas Barrett, who came to Orange from Bathurst to set up his business. By the time of Thomas Barrett’s death in 1916 the cordial business had been sold to a Mr. Cartwright. Cartwright held on to the business for about 12 months before selling to Mr. T.G.A Williams in 1917.
Found during excavation of the Orange Regional Museum site and held in the Museum’s collection, is a glass cordial bottle with ‘BARRETT ORANGE’ stamped on the side, indicating it’s use in the Barrett cordial factory on Summer Street. The bottle is a torpedo shape, designed to stop the bottle from being stood up. The cordial would then keep in contact with the cork so that the cork would not dry out and shrink, falling into the bottle.
Green glass torpedo-shaped cordial bottled marked ‘BARRETT ORANGE’. ORM2016/49 Orange Regional Museum collection
Cordial making in Orange was well established after the rush for gold at nearby Ophir in 1851. George Weily is believed to be one of the first manufacturers of cordials and ginger beer during in the 1860s. By the 1870s there were several firms specialising in making cordials in Orange.
A recent acquisition to the collection of Orange Regional Museum is a green glass bottle with wooden stopper, marked “W.S. STABBACK ORANGE”. William Samuel Stabback purchased the Phoenix Soda and Cordial Factory from Josiah Parker in 1871. The factory was located in a lane off Anson Street, now Stibbard’s Lane, (possibly a misspelling of the name Stabback).
Cordials were sold in a range flavours including; lemon, lime, raspberry and orange. The bottles were expensive to manufacture and were reused many times for the owner to make a profit. Often bottles were marked with the name of the manufacturer as can be seen with the Stabback’s bottle pictured below.
Advances in refrigeration and transport led to the decline of small cordial manufacturers. Whileys stopped manufacturing cordial in the 1960s.
Following from Josiah Parker’s carrier in cordial manufacturing he was Mayor of East Orange from 1888-1889. Similarly William Stabback was Mayor of East Orange in 1889, 1891-1893, 1895-1897.
Moulded green glass bottle with wood stopper, marked “W.S. STABBACK ORANGE”. ORM 2017/115 Gift of Denise Moriarty.
An 1894 dictionary of cookery, published by Cassell, Petter and Galpin, gives insight into the time intensive process of making cordial during the late 1800s. A recipe for Hops and Sherry Cordial involves shaking and pressing hops covering them with sherry and leaving for a month for the flavors to infuse. Following this the mixture is strained and sugar is added. The final product must be kept in ‘closely corked bottles’ and should be mixed with water to consume.
For more Victorian recipes including ginger, cinnamon and aromatic cordials check out the Cassell’s dictionary of cookery here.
Hops and Sherry Cordial Recipe, Cassell’s dictionary of cookery containing about nine thousand recipes, 1894