131 Miller Street, Fitzroy North (Moonee Valley Aerated Water & Cordial Co)

I am guessing, but from 110-144 Miller Street, and 99-169 Clausen Street are the site; where one of the largest factories in Victoria stood (The Argus, 3 Aug 1910). According to Mike Moore, the offices stood across the road at 131 Miller Street.

John Dunne

“It was not long after joining the Carlton Brewery that he saw a good field for his enterprise, and in 1889 he started the huge concern of which he is now the proprietor, in a modest way in Birkenhead Street, Fitzroy. ” the Cyclopedia of Victoria, 1903-1905, Vol.2, pp.175-176.

Mercury & Weekly Courier, 20 Jan 1899

Success came quickly and he purchased “land having a frontage of 66 feet to Miller and Clausen Streets by a depth of 307 feet, upon which the factory and appurtenances” were erected. The buildings were pitched throughout with bluestone and “have over 20,000 square feet of floor space. Due to expanding needs he purchased another allotment adjoining, “having a frontage to the same street of 50 feet, by the same depth.” The site was powered with a gas engine and water filtered through Halliday’s animal charcoal filter. The delivery plan consisted of over forty vehicles of all descriptions, from the large ‘Horonda’ waggons, drawn by four horses, to the light one horse express.

In 1896, John’s wife, Mrs Abigail Lena Dunne, passed away at the Aberdeen Hotel, North Fitzroy, which was owned by her husband John. Abigail was the second eldest daughter of Eliza and the late Timothy Leahy, of the Liverpool Arms Hotel, Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. She died of bronchitis at age 24. (Sportsman, 15 Sep 1896).

Horonda Bottle on sale on Ebay

In 1898 Dunne becomes a councillor of Heidelberg shire council, representing Greensborough. He is described as “full of enterprise, pluck and real grit”.. and “Cr. Dunne is one of those men who turns everything he touches into money”. During this time he still resides at the Aberdeen hotel, where he is the owner and licensee. It is described as “sumptuously furnished throughout, and there are several large rooms – drawing and dining rooms, &c. – which would not be out of place at Government House”. (Mercury and Weekly Courier, 23 Dec 1898)

Detail from a company promotional mug – Google Image Search

Dunne also took on in the late 1890’s a glass bottle works, The Moonee Valley Glass Bottle Works. He established this works nearby after being frustrated by the “‘ring of bottle makers’ who charged prices fright up to the customs duty limit. Our enterprising friend reckoned this extortion and said so”. Despite knowing little of the works, he overcame difficulties and expense and in 1898 “about 240 gross of bottles per day.. are manufactured.” He was so successful that he was preparing to build another wing for the manufacture of black bottles only. (Mercury and Weekly Courier, 23 Dec 1898). The article mentions tat the Glass Works are set on 4.5 acres, with the Aerated Water Works a hundred yards away. According to Mike Moore, the Glass Works was on the corner of King Street and Glenlyon Road.

Dunne cut out the middleman wherever possible, growing his own hay, cutting his own chaff, stabling his horses (up to 126 of them), employing an onsite saddler and of course the glass works. He also dealt direct with the public. The Aerated Water Company is said to be able to make, fill and cork 250 dozen bottles an hour. (Mercury and Weekly Courier, 23 Dec 1898).

It was about this time he created “Horonda” largely composed of horehound, a herb grown on his farms at Yan Yean and Diamond Creek. It is bottled in long thin bottles with gold tops. (Mercury and Weekly Courier, 23 Dec 1898).

Advertising, Evelyn Observer and Bourke East Record, April 1904

In the early 1900’s John Dunne was at his prime. He owned the Aberdeen Hotel on Brunswick Street, the Moonee Valley Glass Factory, the Moonee Valley Aerated Water and Cordial Company, a cigar factory and St John Wine Cellars, Capel Court, City where he sells wine made for him by a South Australian vineyard. He is described by the Cyclopedia of Victoria, 1903-1905, Vol.2, pp.175-176 as being one of the best known men in Melbourne, having represented the Carlton Brewery for the past 16 years.

Mr Dunne employed a large number of trades to help keep the site operation and could stable 50-60 horses in 1905. He leased 27 acres of nearby land to harvest hay which was supplemented from his farm at Yan Yean (328 acres). (The Cyclopedia of Victoria, 1903-1905, Vol.2, pp.175-176)

The company manufacture a drink called ‘Horonda’, a herbal tonic concoction, which was distributed around Australia, which apparently was favoured by teetotallers as well as a mixer with whisky, brandy and gin. The Cyclopedia, goes ‘on and on’ advertising this drink for those who want more information about it.

Assisting him in the operations in 1903-1905 were Mr Arthur Louis Gardner (a son of Mr Thomas Garner, formerly town clerk of Richmond for 26 years) to manage his aerated water business (they were friends from their time together at Scotch College in the 70s) and Mr Pat S. Barrett who was the accountant but was promoted to traveller (i.e. collector of payments). (The Cyclopedia of Victoria, 1903-1905, Vol.2, pp.175-177)

Not everything worked well for Dunne, not least losing his young wife, but in 1901 he knocked down an elderly lady in Elizabeth Street. He conveyed the lady to the Melbourne Hospital where she was admitted with a fracture at the base of her skull, (Bendigo Advertiser, 28 May 1901)

On Friday August 5, 1910, just five years after the Cyclopedia was published, the full site was put up for auction including all machinery and plan as one lot without reserve (The Argus, 2 Aug 1910). And according to FORWA Samuel Yoxall and John Proudlove Yoxall had taken over the company in 1905 where they operated it together until 1908 when Samuel moved to country Victoria. This would align with Mike Moore‘s research which also suggests, the company’s accountant Patrick Barrett moved on in 1908, joining with John Barrett to establish Barrett Brothers Cordials nearby.

Also in 1908-1910, the Company suffered two fines, one of Raspberry vinegar not labelled (0-5-0), and the other that the Lime juice was not labelled (1-0-0)under the Pure Food Act (Fines under Dairy, Pure Food, and Factories Acts, 1911)

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