Masons Jam Factory: Sweet Success at The Gap

Did you know that nearly half a century ago, Brisbane’s first jam factory was built on the high side of Enoggera Creek, inbound on Waterworks Rd, just east of Bennett’s Rd, in The Gap? Despite the weatherboard structure’s nondescript appearance, people flocked to “Masons Preserving Works,” whose owner, Charles Mason, found sweet success as the local purveyor of jams, pickles, and fruit preserves.

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The Gap is known for its abundant supply of fresh produce. It has been a reliable supplier of fruits, vegetables, poultry, and meat products from the Settlement of Brisbane in 1824 up to the end of World War II.

Plantation bananas at The Gap, circa 1960.
Photo Credit: The Gap Historical Society

Before starting his eponymously named business, Claude Mason used to farm at Savages Road in Moggill. 

In 1937, he moved to Toowong, where his future wife, Eveline Thelma Hinton lived. The two got married at the Toowong Gospel Hall in 1938.

Seeing potential in the business, along with a steady supply of fresh fruits, Claude decided to put up a jam factory. “Masons Preserving Works” opened in 1939, a few years after the end of the First World War, when returned servicemen took up land and established the area for farming, adding bottled jams and pickles to the assortment of wares in the local market.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Ben Webb
Mason’s jam factory
Claude Mason in 1988 (Photo credit: The Gap Historical Society)

It wasn’t long before Mr Mason’s factory became one of The Gap’s thriving businesses, supplying employment to many teenagers and locals who could often be seen stirring the preserves in the back, where there were always two massive, stainless steel cauldrons of jam a-cooking.

Fresh fruits were either stored in the cold rooms or piled on the lush grass at the back of the factory.

The jam, fruit preserves, and pickles were much in demand. In the ‘70s, “Masons” was the only maker of tomato jam in all of Brisbane. 

Since the yummy jars were nowhere to be found on the shelves of chain supermarkets and other mainstream stores, locals went out of their way to purchase their “Mason.”

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Records indicate that Mason’s jam factory closed in the 1990s. The changing trends in the fast world of retail, highlighted by the rapid expansion of supermarkets in Brisbane soon took a toll on many small businesses, Masons included.

Today, a cement footpath leads to a cul de sac of houses in the area where Masons once stood. No trace is left of the old jam factory but locals who once worked there (teenagers then and old-timers now), still remember Claude Mason, stirring his vats of jam, with fondness.