Did you know that The Soda Factory in West End was named in honour of the Tristram soft drink factory that once operated on the site for decades? Here’s a look back at the history of Brisbane’s now-defunct soft drink manufacturing company, a well-known brand in the city up to the 1970s.
Thomas Tristram founded the company as T Tristram Essences in 1875, almost a decade after arriving in Brisbane. Two years later, he partnered with Owen Gardiner who helped him open a factory at the rear of his family home on the corner of Grey and Hope Street.
T Tristam was forced to vacate the property at Hope St after Council took it for a road improvement project.
T Tristram later acquired a property at 69 Boundary St, West End and commissioned Atkinson, Powell and Conrad to design a new factory. The factory building had a Spanish Mission style design, which is quite unusual in Brisbane during those times.
When T Tristam Aerated Waters and Brewed Beverages opened at Boundary St in 1930, a write-up on The Architectural and Building Journal described the building as “thoroughly modern in every aspect, with a well laid out garden and lawns occupying the front of the site.”
Tristram produced different variants of their products, such as Ginger Beer, Lime Rickey, Sarsaparilla, TriCola, Lemonade, Indian Tonic, Soda Water, and Ginger Ale.
When T Tristram passed away at the turn of the century, his wife Emily Constance Tristram took over the business, along with their two sons and three daughters.
Tristram’s became the soft drink of choice for generations, until the factory was sold in 1979 to Cadbury Schweppes.
The former soft drink factory was converted into West End Market Shopping Centre during the 1980s, based on designs of late architect Gary Georgeson.
Heritage Pacific acquired the shopping centre, also known as The Markets, and redeveloped the iconic building in 2001 to incorporate a mixed use major retail facility and apartments.
Soda Factory West End
The site is now home to Soda Factory West End, a neigbourhood centre with a newly refurbished Coles Supermarket and 22 specialty retailers. It’s being run by the SCA Property Group, who purchased the property in 2014 for $32 million.
Whilst the building underwent major renovations, its main facade was retained, as part of the group’s vision to preserve its historical value.
Meanwhile, the Tristram soft drink factory may be gone but the business continues to thrive as Trisco Foods, which is currently being managed by the fifth generation of the family.
Trisco Foods, now with an established factory at Carole Park, focuses on manufacturing ingredients such as syrups and sundaes. The company was named Queensland’s Exporter of the Year in 2019.