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Bottle tops mystery lifts lid on McMahon's soft drinks

RARE FIND: Choices Flooring owner Steve Mallet and Peter McMahon, whose family owned McMahon’s Soft Drinks, marvel at the unusual discovery of McMahon’s bottle caps found in the store’s ceiling.
RARE FIND: Choices Flooring owner Steve Mallet and Peter McMahon, whose family owned McMahon’s Soft Drinks, marvel at the unusual discovery of McMahon’s bottle caps found in the store’s ceiling. David Nielsen

RENOVATING an historic Ipswich building has uncovered a link to the city's proud past and posed a fascinating history mystery.

Top of Town businessman Steve Mallet and his wife Jaye recently bought the floor above his Choices Flooring business on Brisbane St.

When the ceiling in the back left-hand corner was lifted up, it revealed hundreds of McMahon's soft drink bottle tops scattered across the beam.

Mr Mallet was quick to tell Peter McMahon, whose family owned the famous soft drink business in Ipswich for many years.

McMahon's soft drinks operated from 1934 and Frank McMahon ran the original plant at Martin St, Woodend, where Peter McMahon's Swim Factory now stands.

"My wife Jaye and I have a lot of Ipswich pride and I just love to know where things came from and where they go to," Mr Mallet said.

"We also found two left hand boots. Someone mentioned to me it could have been a sign of good luck.

"But the bottle caps is what we're a bit confused about; what they mean."

The building was owned by the Faulkner family who ran a motor garage there before starting a car yard on the block where the medical centre opposite Ipswich Hospital is now.

Before Steve Mallett started his carpet business 10 years ago, it was a TAB agency with a gym upstairs that closed several years back.

He's now looking for a business to rent upstairs once it's renovated - and after the bottle top whodunit is solved.

"We would love to talk to former employees of Faulkners to see if they could shine a light on it," Mr Mallet said.

The soft drink bottle tops are as much a mystery to Peter McMahon but it set off a torrent of sentiment.

"We had vending machines where we sold the drinks. I don't remember with Faulkners; they might have had a refrigerator and they bought drinks off us," Mr McMahon said.

"There would have been the small, seven-ounce bottles.

"We called them nip bottles.

"And the variety of flavours there; my heart cries because they've got horehound and other items that were part of my father's life - and part of mine too.

"This would have to be early 70s, so more than 40 years ago.

"It was when crown seals were a way of life.

"Later on we went to a more generic cap with, like, sarsaparilla on the cap and McMahon's on the label.

"There was no such thing as plastic bottles and things like that or screw tops.

"It was all returnables."

The advent of shopping centres was the beginning of the end for McMahon's and soft drinks in other towns.

"There was also the Coca-Cola people and they also had their own brews but once people started shopping centres it changed our way of selling and buying," he said.

"It was the decline of our world.

"The brand of McMahon's ended in about 1989."




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