Edward John Fackerell (1866 - 1941)

First directors of the first Co-op Butter factory in Tweed District, E.J. Fackerell standing far right. c.1895. M29-09
First directors of the first Co-op Butter factory in Tweed District, E.J. Fackerell standing far right. c.1895. M29-09

Edward John Fackerell was born in Rookbridge, Somerset, England in 1866 and came to Australia at the age of 16.

He was a carpenter by trade but was also involved in various other business activities in and around Murwillumbah. He owned a farm at Dungay; opened a cordial factory in 1902 and purchased the Imperial Hotel in 1911.

He was also very active in the community serving as an Alderman from 1903 to 1905 and was involved in a range of other community organisations.

He was a well-known business man in Murwillumbah until the early 1920s when he left the area to take up residence in Sydney where he remained until his death in 1941.

Family life

Edward Fackerell and family - circa 1910 (Museum Collection)
Fackerell Family, c.1910. M22-17

In 1887 Edward Fackerell and Phyllis Caroline Marion Hawkes (1864 – 1895), a schoolteacher from Staffordshire, were married in Sydney.

Following their marriage Edward and Phyllis moved to the Tweed area and had five children:

  • Elsie Louisa (1888 – 1988)
  • Edgar Edward (1890-1913)
  • Ethel Frances (1891 -1978)
  • Herbert (Bert) William (1893 – 1926)
  • Caroline (1895 – 1895).

Phyllis died in 1895 and Edward married Amy Jane Gosper in Lismore in 1896. The couple had three sons, all of whom were born in Murwillumbah:

  • Humphrey (1898 – 1918)
  • Douglas John (1900 – 1973)
  • Roderic Sydney (1904 – 1954).

Three of Edward’s sons predeceased him. Edgar was accidentally killed felling scrub in 1913.

Humphrey enlisted in WWI and served in the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade. He died of wounds received in the field at Mont St Quentin, France on 4 September 1918. He was buried at the British Military Cemetery, Proyart near Albert, however, in 1923 his remains were reinterred at Heath Military Cemetery, Harbonnieres, five miles from Bray Sur Somme, France.

Bert also served in WWI in the 10th Field Artillery Brigade. He served in Egypt and France, and returned to Australia in 1919. Bert died in Murwillumbah in 1926 as a result of Dengue Fever.

Building and other business activities

E J Fackerell stone ginger beer bottle, c 1910. MUS1994.138.4
E.J. Fackerell stone ginger beer bottle, c1910. MUS1994.138.4

Edward Fackerell, a carpenter by trade, operated as a successful building contractor in the Tweed district. This work ranged from making 56lb butter boxes out of hand sawn pine boards for the local butter manufacturers to large construction projects.

Edward Fackerell won tenders for a range of public projects in the area, including the erection of a bridge over Ledday’s Creek Road Murwillumbah to Cudgen Wharf in 1898, the erection of a bridge over Old Schoolhouse Gulley to Boyd’s Point in 1899, the construction of a wharf and approach at Condong and the excavation of a channel from Duranbah Swamp to Ledday’s Creek near Stotts Island, Tweed River both in 1901.

In 1904 Edward Fackerell’s tender was accepted to extend the Dungay Public School. After some delay in completing the arrangements owing to a lack of funds, the work was carried out in September and October of that year. In 1905 Fackerell supervised the building of the Dungay Public Hall and was also Chairman of the Working Committee.

When Bert Fackerell died in 1926 he was in possession of his father’s cedar tool chest. The chest was passed on to his sister Ethel and it remained in her family until 1986 when it was donated to the Murwillumbah Historical Society by John Dolan, E.J. Fackerell’s grandson.

As well as his building and construction pursuits, Edward Fackerell also had other business interests in the area including a 285 acre property at Dungay in the Parish of Kynnumboon just outside of Muwrillumbah.

In 1902 he established Fackerell’s cordial and aerated water factory in Murwillumbah which was managed by H.W. Dunn who later purchased the business. E.J. Fackerell codd marble cordial and aerated water bottles and glazed pottery ginger beer bottles are still sought after by antique bottle collectors both in Australia and overseas.

In 1911 Fackerell expanded his business portfolio when he purchased the Imperial Hotel in Murwillumbah for a price that was reported “to have been a big one, and considerably in advance of that paid” by the previous owner. He became well known as a genial proprietor noted for running a “splendidly conducted and finely appointed establishment which was under Vice-Regal patronage”. He ran the Imperial until the early 1920s when he sold up his assets in the area and relocated to Sydney.

Public life

E J Fackerell's tool chest. MUS1986.21.10
E.J. Fackerell's tool chest. MUS1986.21.10

As well as his own business interests in Murwillumbah and the surrounding area Edward Fackerell was also very involved in the local community.

In January 1901 he was elected to the Committee of the Murwillumbah School of Arts. In the 1903 municipal election he was elected Alderman, serving until 1905 and in the same year is listed as a Magistrate for Murwillumbah in the published list of 730 magistrates Gazetted for the Northern Rivers district.

He was also a member of the Tweed Masonic Lodge Number 136 and in 1903 constructed the new Lodge Hall “at a figure much below its cost”. Fackerell was involved with the Tweed, Brunswick and Border Pastoral and Agricultural Society and served as a committee member for some years.

In 1905, he was elected as one of the first directors of the newly formed Tweed River Butter Company, Ltd. At a meeting in 1906 of the Tweed River Shire Council E.J. Fackerell was appointed returning officer for the polling centre at Dungay.

In 1907 Murwillumbah experienced a disastrous fire which destroyed much of the town. However, this adversity was soon seen by the town’s citizens as an opportunity to rebuild a new and improved Murwillumbah which included widening “the street from Fackerell’s Cordial Factory on Church Hill to Wharf Street” .

This required more land - “five feet on either side of all property fronting the street” and Edward Fackerell was among the first to sign the agreement to give the necessary land for this undertaking. Fackerell also made generous donations to the War Fund in 1915 and the Murwillumbah Hospital building fund in 1918.

Later life

After spending many years in the Tweed Region where he had become a well-known business man and public figure Edward Fackerell left the north coast and took up residence in Sydney where he lived for the remainder of his life.

After a long illness he died in Randwick Private Hospital on 30 June 1941. He was survived by two sons, Douglas and Roderic both of Sydney and his two daughters Elsie Bostok of Bilambil and Ethel Dolan of Currumbin.

Written by Christine Stratigos