W A Ross was one of the largest soft drinks manufacturers in Ireland.
William Adolphus Ross (1817 – 1900) worked as managing director at Cantrell & Cochrane, soft drinks manufacturers of Belfast, for around ten years.
Cantrell & Cochrane were found to be in breach of contract, so with a settlement of £3,250, Ross established his own soft drinks manufacturing business at William Street South, Belfast, in 1879. He was assisted by his son George A Ross, a former sailor.
By November 1879 W A Ross was producing nearly 30,000 bottles a day, chiefly for export markets such as the United States, the West Indies and Africa.
A depot had been established at Glasgow by 1881.
The firm’s agent in New York imported 981,840 bottles in 1883.
W A Ross was one of the largest soft drink manufacturers in Ireland by 1891. Ross’s Royal Ginger Ale was the firm’s principal product. That year the firm became a private limited company, W A Ross & Sons Ltd.
The firm employed 150 people in 1896. By 1898 the firm had depots at Glasgow and Liverpool.
William Adolphus Ross died in 1900 with an estate valued at £4,449.
The William Street factory was extended in 1902, and again in 1909.
William Adolphus Ross Jr (1843 – 1912) died in New York with an estate valued at £65,000.
By 1914 Brazil, Chile and Argentina were major export markets, but the United States remain the most important. The war was to damage the export trade.
Independence for the Republic of Ireland damaged trade in that market due to the erection of tariffs.
The factory ceased production in the mid 1970s, and W A Ross & Sons was wound up in 1980.