Kavanagh & Smith / Soft Drinks Factory (c1905)
1 Walter St
Auctioneers become soft drink makers
Around 1915 Matthew Kavanagh and William Smith of Kavanagh & Smith, auctioneers and commission agents, started a soft drinks and cordial factory in this building where they had their business offices. The man in charge of manufacturing was Bill Klatt.
Matthew Owen Kavanagh was a prominent businessman and public official. He was Chairman of Walloon Shire Council until 1911, Chairman of Lowood Shire Council 1912-13 and Esk Shire councillor 1917-21.
Dangerous fire extinguished just in time
In May 1924 a fire broke out under the building, which then included the Marathon Cafe as well as Kavanagh & Smith's offices and the soft drink factory.
The Brisbane Courier reported how close the building came to burning down: "...it was only the supreme efforts of some voluntary workers from a small circus encamped in view of the building, and a few townsmen, that saved the building from total destruction."
Soft drinks in Lowood for over a century
The first known mention of soft drinks in Lowood was in 1893. Handley Brothers store owner, J.D. Handley, erected a bakehouse in Church Street with an oven large enough for 250 loaves. He leased the premises to W.J. Gracie, a Fernvale baker. The Queensland Times reported: "Mr. Gracie also runs a soft drink and fruit shop in connection with his baking business".
Then, in March 1905, The Queensland Times announced the opening of a soft drink factory in Lowood: "Mr John Ferguson, formerly of Ipswich, has begun business here as an aerated waters manufacturer." Ferguson's family had operated a ginger beer and cordial factory in Ipswich from about 1886.
He built his Lowood factory in a former Cribb & Foote storage shed at the corner of Church and Michel Streets. In December 1913 it burned down and was not re-built, opening the way for Kavanagh & Smith's new venture.
John Walters buys the building
Matthew Kavanagh died in 1924 and in 1930 his widow sold the building to John Walters. After the January 1931 fire in Railway Street destroyed some of his properties, Walters relocated his tenant Retschlag's butchery to this building.
On Bill Klatt's retirement about 1935, his former employee Jake Goos began making inexpensive, quality soft drinks and continued for 35 years until the factory closed on his retirement in 1970.
History mystery when building named
During refurbishing in the 1990s this building was signed "Walters Building - Est 1900" in honour of John Walters. He built and owned numerous businesses, shops and houses in Lowood, many that survive to this day including the Jubilee Theatre next door, but he didn't own this building until 1930.
Its origins are uncertain but it was probably built c1904-05 for Matthew Kavanagh. These days this century-plus landmark - that almost didn't reach its 20th birthday - houses assorted retail businesses.