Our sweet history

THE City of Vincent Local History Centre brings us this look back at a time when Leederville was a manufacturing powerhouse, focusing on the Golden West Aerated Water Company and explaining the inspiration behind Carr Place’s curious bubbled building.

MUCH has been made recently of Australia pivoting back to local manufacturing in a post-Covid world.

Inspiration for this can be found in Perth’s history when factories of all kinds were ubiquitous in suburbs like Leederville. 

From fencing to furniture making, munitions to drill rigs, Leederville in the 1900s was home to a range of manufacturing enterprises. 

One former business that has inspired a new generation of manufacturers in Leederville is the Golden West Aerated Water Company.

Golden West began operating around 1896 at 41 Fitzgerald Street near the corner of James Street (now Farinosi & Son’s Mitre 10 hardware store). In 1906, founder James J Wallis moved the factory to a new and larger premises on what was then Leeder Street (now Carr Place). 

The Golden West factory covered a broad area between Carr and Newcastle streets with space for tanks to capture rainwater used in the soft drinks manufacturing, as well as stables for the horses and carts used for deliveries. 

Golden West produced a variety of soft drinks and cordials including strawberry creaming soda, kola beer, lemonade, fruit cocktail and the intriguing mystery flavour ‘Space-O’ advertised as giving a “boost for spacemen”.

The family run business was handed down to James Wallis’ son Ernest, and his son Ronald James also followed in the family business as a cordial mixer. 

The company employed many generations of local workers including Michael Hatzistavridi who started work at Golden West from 1952 until after it was bought by Coca Cola in the 1960s and became ‘Gest’ soft drinks (a combination of the names Golden and West), eventually moving to a factory in Kewdale. 

“The Golden West product was not concentrate, it was the ingredients. You bought the syrup, the citric acid all separate, and you made the formula yourself. That’s how it was and the ginger beer too — you made it all yourself,” Mr Hatzistavridi said.

The Leederville factory closed in 1972 and was redeveloped in 2018 as an apartment complex, with the design evoking the bubbles of the soft drinks once produced on site. 

The Golden West Brewing Company, a group of friends with a shared love of unique brews, bought the rights to the historic name and logo in 2018.  Tim Wren, head brewer at the rejuvenated company, is looking to history for ideas in developing a new range of hand crafted brews using locally sourced products.  

“We currently have one product line which took inspiration from a heritage soft drink called the kwencher,” Mr Wren says. “With only the packaging to go off, 

we created the Kwencher Pale Ale with its tropical fruit aroma and flavour. It would be great to continue developing recipes with inspiration found from original products.” 

Mr Wren recently spent some time in the Vincent Local History Archives exploring the handwritten cordial and ginger beer recipes that the Wallis family donated to the Vincent Local History Collection, along with a wonderful assortment of photos and objects from the original Golden West factory. 

While the ingredients and measurements of a bygone age can be a little hard to decipher and replicate in today’s world, Mr Wren is determined to find inspiration from the past for a new generation of beer lovers. We can’t wait to taste the results of his research and craftsmanship. 

To see more photos of the original factory visit: https://cityofvincent.imagegallery.me/

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