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Queensland Places - George Lamb's Factory, Thursday Island

By JOL Admin | 6 May 2014

Thursday Island, in the late 1890s, was served by a wide range of local businesses, catering to the needs and demands of the local community.  Showing the wide variety of local goods and services on offer is an 1897 advertisement by George Lamb, a local aerated water and cordial manufacturer.

George Lamb, Thursday Island, 1897. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Research undertaken shows that the cordial and mineral water factory owned and operated by George Lamb, in the late 1890s, occupied a central site in the Thursday Island township and was described as being one of the best buildings on the island. Lamb established his factory on Thursday Island to take advantage of it being a pivotal location between the available markets in Australia and Eastern Asia.  Thursday Island was also a good location for his factory due to its close proximity to the local shipping routes encompassing the Gulf Country and the North Queensland coast.  Then, as now, there was a large local and international consumption of mineral waters and similar products.

Lamb’s factory is shown in the pictured advertisement.  A contemporary description of the building shows that to one side of the main entrance was a laboratory containing the compounds and ingredients used in the trade and to the other side was the office.  The illustration shows us that the central entrance also provided access to a rear or central loading area for wagons.  The water source was rainfall with the building’s roof being used as a catchment.  Storage tanks with a capacity of 10,000 gallons ensured a consistent and reliable source of water.

The advertisement also shows a well dressed worker, who we can speculate may be George Lamb himself, at work in the factory.  We are also able to assume that the upper floor of the factory building was probably the Lamb family’s residence.  The family were long standing residents of Thursday Island and George Lamb himself was involved in a range of community affairs.

This advertisement and others like it, provide us with a window into an interesting but long gone aspect of Thursday Island’s history.

Brian Randall - Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland.


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