Stenciling Crates at Mudge’s Cordial Factory, Milton
Milton Mudge probably felt a hint of pride each time a new batch of timber crates arrived, and he took down this stencil where it hung on the wall of his cordial factory in Milton. He painted the sides of the timber crates through the gaps in the letters, marking his name ‘M.J. Mudge / Milton’. Then he filled each crate with glass and ceramic bottles containing the factory’s fizzy drinks. The bottles tinkled together as they were loaded onto the truck for transporting to the region’s drinking establishments.
Known as ‘Miltie’ to his family and friends, Milton John Mudge (1905-1967) was born in Milton, and presumably, was named after the town. In 1926, as an enterprising 21-year-old, Milton leased space at Burrill Reserve to run a kiosk – perhaps he was already selling his carbonated drinks there?
Certainly, by 1927, he was officially listed as a cordial manufacturer, brewing ginger beer, aerated water and lemonade in a long shed on the corner of Croobyar Road and Wason Street. The townspeople knew the spot as ‘Mudges Corner’, since Milton’s father Nicholas had long run his undertaking business there, and other relatives also ran a building company and carpentry workshop.
Mudge continued brewing until about 1943, when he seems to have turned off the taps and hung up his name stencil for the last time. In 1944, he took on his father’s undertaking business, possibly because his father’s health was ailing, since he died three years later. Milton then moved away to live in Five Dock, Sydney.
Today, the ginger beer bottles marked with the M.J. Mudge name are highly valuable collectables.