This factory was the home of Wisdom Toothbrushes for most of its life, and then Addis Toothbrushes towards the very end. For a factory so dedicated to hygiene, it’s not very clean.
If you’re thinking it’s a little too perfect that one toothbrush manufacturer followed another in occupying this factory, here’s the Finkle and Einhorn moment: Wisdom is Addis. The history is actually way more interesting than I could have fathomed the history of a toothbrush company to be: William Addis, who actually invented the toothbrush, founded the Wisdom company in 1780(!), with the first prototype toothbrush made of bone and horsehair. Whose bone? The horse’s? Maybe it’s best that we don’t know. They were still making the bone toothbrushes until 1947, when something must have happened in the world of decency to stop the practice.
Wisdom/Addis struck Australia in the 1930s, establishing a factory in Glebe. When that factory proved to be lacking in security:
Addis moved here, to a factory by the bank of the Parramatta River.
But the crime didn’t stop – it turned out that people just liked stealing Addis brand toothbrushes:
By the 1970s Wisdom was flush with cash, taking out boastful ads in magazines and adding the company’s logo and a giant toothbrush to the side of the factory, which is a practice that really needs to come back in fashion.
Market research apparently showed that by the 1990s, prospective toothbrush purchasers had lost faith in the Wisdom brand, and were instead more willing to buy from Addis. The factory complied, changing its name.
The toothbrush business moved to greener pastures (Lane Cove) around 2000, and as always happens, they left some stuff behind in the move.
Oddly, there’s a Roni’s Discounts sign plastered to the back of the factory:
Could Roni’s have once used this factory to house their inventory of cheap junk? Even if they had, I doubt we could tell the difference. For about the last 10 or so years, the factory has sat here, derelict, constantly amassing more and more graffiti and grime. The doors are wide open so anyone can get in there. It’s become something of a pilgrimage for graffiti artists and, going by the bra suspended above the front door, drunk young people looking for an edgy-yet-risk free place to have sex. OOH AN ABANDONED FACTORY! ANYONE COULD WALK IN!
In 2007, the building caught fire, which seems to have improved its condition. As industrial Meadowbank is slowly but steadily decommissioned and gentrified around it, (Sexual) Wisdom patiently awaits its certain fate with a pearly white smile on its face.
SUPER UPD8: Thanks to reader Lawrence, we now have footage of the interior of the old Wisdom Toothbrush factory! Shot on Super 8, there’s a mega-creepy ‘found footage’ element to the video. Thanks Lawrence…I think…
It’s sad to say, but themed businesses are really on the way out, if not already extinct. Back in the boomtime, El Rancho Pottery cared enough to maintain their Mexican theme by putting cacti in the front garden of their otherwise drab Porter Street location. Think about that – a pottery barn went the whole enchilada so to speak, and established a theme – an old west atmosphere in which to buy garden products. They cared. Hell, they even cared enough to set up on Porter Street in the off chance some dork would one day make a tenuous connection between the words Porter and pottery. Does Pure Flow care enough to draw in customers with so much as a fountain? A water feature? One of those water coolers? No.
Yet El Rancho is the past life here. It just doesn’t add up.
Then again, water does rhyme with Porter…
It appears that this shop has been absorbed back into its adjoining house now, making it entirely residential. But it’s fun to imagine how this would have been in the day. The big display windows, now boarded up, would have been full of fantastic new models each Saturday morning, strategically placed to catch the wandering eyes of kids as they drove past along Church Street on their way to Putney or Top Ryde Shopping Centre. Later in the afternoon, families might stop in and check out the assortment, and perhaps if they were lucky, the kid’d get a model so they’d have something to do on Sunday. I know what I’d be asking for: “I’ll have a Marisa Miller, two Brooklyn Deckers, a Rosie Huntington-Whiteley…”