Rowlands Soft Drink Factory

From Ballarat and District Industrial Heritage Project
Jump to: navigation, search
Flyer. Courtesy Federation University Australia Historical Collection [Cat. No. 1284].

Established in 1854 Evan Rowlands made lemonade, soda water and gingerbeer.

Phoenix Foundry Land Sale Poster, 1907, Federation University Historical Collection (Cat. No. 15147)



Evan Rowlands was on the goldfields in 1854 selling spring water to the diggers when all the natural water had been defiled into a yellow flood by the washings of the alluvial workings. [1]

In conjunction with Robert Lewis, under the name Rowlands and Lewis, the firm erected a canvas factory on the edge of Lake Wendouree. The factory, like all buildings of that time was made of canvas. [2] They sold home-made lemonade, ginger beer, and soda water, and within four years the factory on the shores of Lake Wendouree was operating with machinery, and the hand-carts of Rowlands and Lewis were a familiar sight on the fields. [3]


‘In 1854 the original firm started making lemonade, soda water, and ginger beer on the shores of what is now Lake Wendouree, when eight hands were employed. To-day the firm has five depots—Ballarat, Melbourne, Sydney, Creswick, and Smythesdale—the first three being manufacturing places, at each of which an eight horse-power steam engine is used, and in all 300 hands are employed, receiving an aggregate weekly wage of £330, the 1854 Ballarat output of 300 dozen bottles a day having grown to a daily manufacture in 1886 of between 3000 and 4000 dozen, whilst the first day’s Melbourne make of 6 dozen in July, 1873, had grown to an output of 3547 dozen in one day of last year. A big stride this, surely, and one to note. Meanwhile the simple triad of beverages which sufficed for the diggers of 1854 has been followed by waters and cordials galore. The factories of the firm now produce, besides the original three comforts, seltzer, potass, Lithia, magnesia, spollinaria, Carlsbad, and tonic waters; ginger ale, sarsaparilla, Ballan seltzer, vigorine, noyau, maraschino, curaçoa, rhatang bitters, orange bitters, aromatic bitters, quinine bitters, sarsaparilla extract, hop bitters, alkine bitters, aerated bitterade, ginger brandy, pine apple syrup, ginger wine, raspberry vinegar, lime juice syrup, lemon syrup, peppermint, cloves, milk punch. The list symbolises the development of the firm’s trade, which is spread all over the colonies. A commercial witness, of some travel himself, writes to the author:—
Mr. Rowlands, by the introduction of his manufactures all over the colonies, does more to advertise Ballarat than does any other manufacturer; for, as one gentleman said to me at Deniliquin once, “When you get beyond the reach of Rowlands’ soda water, you are beyond the pale of civilised society,” and though I do not agree absolutely with that, still I recognise the fact that in all the colonies, and in the leading towns in Victoria, Ballarat drinks, through the agency of Rowlands, are obtainable.
Even the fiery teetotaller may well exclaim—“More power to this earnest solacer of thirsty souls, and may his unintoxicating shadow never grow less.” The Australasian Trade Review, of a year or two ago, was full of interesting details of the firm’s doings, for which we have no space in these pages; but the writer there gives us a glimpse of the inner works when he says the Dana street works can turn out over 3000 dozen bottles a day, and that at the vigorine counter alone in the Collins street factory “half a score of men and boys are kept labelling and gold foiling the bottles, of which thousands of dozens are sent out monthly, and the sale steadily increasing.” The Ballarat factory has, as general manager and foreman respectively, Messrs. A. Attwood and Joseph Franklin, the Melbourne factory Messrs. D. Jones and Thos. Ferguson, and the Sydney factory Messrs. J. Jones and W. Moxom. Franklin is the nestor of the firm’s employés [sic], for he has breathed the effervescing atmosphere of the factories for 32 years now gone. On retourne toujours à ses premieres amours, and Mr. Rowlands, though living in Melbourne, gives most of his trade patronage to Ballarat firms’.[4]

They were operating from premises on Dana Street, Ballarat (and at 116 Collins Street West, Melbourne and Sydney) in 1887.[5]

Rowlands Soft Drink Factory participated in Factory Day, 1916 - an initiative of the Forward Ballarat Movement. Their advertisement for the day read...

'The unique record of having been in continuous employment at Rowland’s aerated water factory for half a century is enjoyed by Mr David Morris. Mr Morris has witnessed and taken part in the growth of the firm under different managements through varying eras to its present prosperity, and at the end of his 50 years’ service he enjoys the respect and esteem of all with whom he comes into contact. Yesterday afternoon he was entertained by the firm, on whose behalf Mr J. J. Griffith congratulated him on his fine record, and wished him a further lease of life and good health.’ [6]

In 1938 the up-to-date factory boasted modern machinery, and a slogan for the man who thinks before he drinks.. They made aerated waters (dry ginger ale, soda water, lemonade, ginger beer, kola, ginger ale, lime and soda, lemon and raspberry, creaming soda, orange) and cordials (lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, raspberry, peppermint, cloves, sarsaparilla, green ginger, chillie punch, pineapple).[7]




Located on the corner of Wendouree Parade and Mill Street, the site became known as the Lemonade Paddock and in 1965 was sub-divided for housing.

In 1907 Rowlands Cordial Factory was on the corner of Doveton and Dana Streets.


Community Involvement

Works Produced

Workplace Relations

The People

Walter L.C. Bailey

Evan Rowlands

Joseph Franklin, foreman (1855-at least 1887)

Alban Atwood (<1890>)[8]

Alban Atwood Jnr


See also

Rowlands and Lewis

Recommended Reading


  1. The Argus, 7 March 1938.
  2. Ballarat Historical Society. (1987). Spievogel Papers, Volume 3. Ballarat: Ballarat Historical Society.
  3. The Argus, 7 March 1938.
  4. William Bramwell Withers. The History of Ballarat from the First Pastoral Settlement to the Present Time. Ballarat: F. W. Niven and Co., 1887, pages 295—296. [Federation University Australia, Mt Helen Library]
  5. Rogers, J. W. F. (ed.). (c. 1887). The Australasian Federal Directory of Commerce, Trades & Professions. Melbourne: J. W. F. Rogers.
  6. The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) Wednesday 15 November 1916, page 2. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  7. One Hundred Years: Official Programme and history of Ballarat for its Centenary Celebrations, 1938.
  8. Ballarat School of Mines Donation Book, 1890.

Further Reading

External Links

--SS 14:29, 29 November 2011 (EST); --Beth Kicinski 07:46, 25 May 2012 (EST); --H. Scarpe 21:26, 19 August 2012 (EST); --Clare K.Gervasoni 11:33, 5 April 2019 (AEDT)

Personal tools