Cascade Cordials Limited

The staff of Cascade Cordials at the Willoughby Road factory on the 1930s.
The staff of Cascade Cordials at the Willoughby Road factory on the 1930s. Les Slack is at the doorway and his son Ted is second from the left among the employees.
Courtesy Graeme Costin
Cascade Cordials Limited was a local business in Willoughby municipality that manufactured and delivered aerated soft drinks from 1927 to 1949. The firm was established by Leslie Matthew Slack (managing director) in partnership with Cecil Davis and James Bunyan. The latter two had established a small cordial factory at South Hornsby and they were joined by Les Slack in 1923 after he sold his drapery and mercery shop in South Hornsby. Slack became managing director and the firm traded as Davis and Bunyan Limited.

As the small Hornsby factory became obsolete, Les Slack could see that a change in direction was needed, so by the year 1927 a new factory was opened at 186-188 Willoughby Road, Naremburn, and with the new factory came a new name: Cascade Cordials Limited.

In order to better manage the new business, Les Slack moved his family into a brand new house at 27 Godfrey Road, Artarmon, in August 1927. His youngest daughter Beryl, then aged eight, remembered the move well. Following her schooling and a course at a business college, Beryl worked for a firm of debt collectors and helped her father out at the cordial factory. She often travelled to and from the factory in Naremburn via the Willoughby Road tram.1

Cascade Cordials supplied many notable customers including the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens, the Hotel Kosciusko, the bars of the Sydney Showground, Harold Park and Wentworth Park, Taronga Park Zoo, and the 6th Division canteen at Ingleburn Army camp.

As the years passed there was increasing tension between Cecil Davis and Les Slack. Davis was short on technical knowledge and also suspicious of Slack’s go ahead methods, so after about ten years with Cascade Cordials, Davis left the company, selling his shares to Slack. James Bunyan’s sympathies lay with Davis but he hesitated to leave with Davis. It wasn’t until 1944, when he enlisted, that Bunyan finally left the firm.

Les Slack sold Cascade Cordials some time after the end of the war, and the new owner finally closed Cascade Cordials in 1949.

–Graeme Costin (son of Beryl)

1 Beryl Costin (1919-2011) was an active member of the Willoughby District Historical Society serving on the Management Committee (2000-2003) and contributing to the development of exhibitions.