Popping the bottle story

Geoff Kinkead with his book on the history of local cordial manufacturers and some of the bottles in his collection.
Geoff Kinkead with his book on the history of local cordial manufacturers and some of the bottles in his collection. Graham Broadhead

IT MAY be difficult to imagine in the modern world, but there was a time before Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Ballina's Geoff Kinkead has recorded the time when most towns had their own "aerated water and cordial" - or soft drink - manufacturers, self-publishing his 48-page book, "Immigration, liaisons and effervescence: A history of aerated water and cordial manufacturers of the Richmond".

The 65-year-old former primary school teacher details the history of about 60 cordial manufacturers in the region, and 17 in Ballina Shire.

It's been a project he's been working on for a "long, long time".

His interest in local cordial manufacturers came about after he found two old cordial bottles - one in a stone wall near Lennox Head and another on the Byron Bay road - back in the early 1970s.

Mr Kinkead then began collecting bottles, and has about 50.

But the history of the people who filled those now-empty bottles intrigued him.

One of those was John Flynn of Coraki, who was actor Errol Flynn's grandfather.

There were cordial manufacturers in Ballina from 1884, when Henry Watson and Edward Solomon set up a factory on the corner of River and Kerr Sts, right up until 1978, when Nor-East drinks became a distribution firm.

Mr Kinkead said advances in refrigeration technology and transport led to the decline of small cordial manufacturers. And the multinational companies played their part, too. He self-published the book "to get the knowledge out there".

Mr Kinkead is selling his books for $20, which just covers costs. He sold several of the 200 copies at the recent bottle collectors' national convention in Adelaide.

To buy a copy, phone Geoff on 0415 811 698.

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