Marchant was born in Brasted, Kent, England, the son of a builder and hotel keeper. As a boy he become interested in the temperance movement. He arrived in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on the Ramsey on 9 June 1874 at age 16 with only a few shillings. He worked as a gardener and then a station hand in the country until returning to Brisbane for employment as a carter in an aerated waters factory, himself purchasing the ginger beer manufacturing business of John R. Palmer in Elizabeth Street, Brisbane in 1886. Marchant then opened a factory in Bower Street, Spring Hill, Brisbane and his soft-drink business eventually became the largest in Australia, with other plants in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Newcastle.
Marchant believed in social equality and had read Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward: 2000-1887; in 1890 Marchant founded a Bellamy Society. Marchant chaired meetings which raised funds for striking workers and women in his employ were paid more than the average in the food industry. Most of the profits of his business were distributed amongst the employees.
Marchant also invented a bottling machine that came to be used worldwide. With his wife, Mary Jane Dwyer, he was the benefactor of many charitable causes, including providing land in Ann St for the New Jerusalem Church and in Chermside, where Marchant Park is named after him. A ward of the Brisbane City Council centred on Chermside is also named Marchant Ward.
Marchant's wife died in 1925, and he died 5 September 1941.
Drinks bearing his name today are marketed by Coca-Cola Amatil.
- Helen Gregory (1986). "Marchant, George (1857 - 1941)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10. MUP. p. 406. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
Additional resources listed by the Australian Dictionary of Biography
- W. O. Lilley, Reminiscences of Life in Brisbane and Reflections and Sayings (Brisb,1913)
- Queensland and Queenslanders (Brisb,1936)
- Votes and Proceedings (Queensland), 1891, 2, p 1244
- Queensland Digger, 1 Oct 1941, p 31
- Worker (Brisbane), 1 July, 7 Aug, 1 Sept, 1, 18 Oct 1890
- Boomerang (Brisbane), 27 Sept, 4 Oct 1890
- Queenslander, 16 July 1931
- Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 7 Sept 1941
- Courier Mail (Brisbane), 8 Sept 1941
- S. A. Rayner, The Evolution of the Queensland Labor Party to 1907 (M.A. thesis, University of Queensland, 1947)
- S. W. Jack's newsclipping book, no 41 (State Library of Queensland); company files, COM/1, 1863–88, and company registration, A/ 11849 (Queensland State Archives).
- SOFT DRINKS, 1945 - 65 History of Marchants company