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The Brewers of Australia
 
by Bruce English
 
THE GOLDFIELDS THIRST
 
Sun, heat, work and beer all seem to be synonymous with the development of Australia. Nowhere was this association more visible than on the goldfields of Victoria, and in particular Bendigo. The dry climate and scarcity of water during summer months also assisted in beer consumption and the development of breweries as the following illustrates:
 
 
Made to Drink Beer
 
(Deutsher 1999: 21)
 
 
Obviously beer didn't just happen and so a number of people attempted to set up breweries with varying degrees of success. It is worth noting that the drinkers must also have had variable and somewhat questionable tastes.
 
 
Beer With Body
 
(Deutsher 1999: 25)
 
 
The Australian Brewers' Journal was frequently used as a medium to buy and sell breweries. In June 1886, breweries in country Victoria sold for £2,000/0/0. By comparison Melbourne was priced around £40,000/0/0 (Deutsher: 7).
 
1850
70
1860
178
1870
230
1880
241
1890
294
1900
255
1910
157
1920
77
1930
47
1940
29
1950
26
1960
22
1970
23
1980
20
1990
11
 
(op cit:8)
 
In December 1852, the goldmining town of Bendigo was gazetted as Castleton. However, by January 1853, its name was changed to Sandhurst and again changed in 1891, to Bendigo (Deutsher:101). Apparently the locals had always referred to the location as Bendigo thereby showing the distinction between practical reality and Government's ability to completely ignore it.
 
The discovery of gold at Bendigo in 1851, and subsequent opening of the goldfields throughout the 1850's saw the rise of a number of brewing enterprises. Indeed it is interesting to note that the Bendigo 'rushes' always seemed to bemoan the lack of water. The initial 'rushes' of in the Golden Gully area of Bendigo in 1851-52, are reported as minor affairs due to the lack of water (Fleet 1977:xii). The later 'Whipstick" rush was also constrained by the lack of water (Perry 1975: 54, 118). Perhaps this is why more breweries operated in Bendigo than any other country town in Australia (Deutsher: 101). In 1866, there were 320 hotels and 12 breweries in Bendigo.
 
In May 1852, the Bendigo gold rushes started in earnest (Perry: 54) and Sandhurst began to see large crowds enter the area. With these crowds came the inevitable shopkeepers, innkeepers and thinly disguised 'sly grog' shops (Fleet:xii). It is against this backdrop that the Dolman ancestors enter the scene firstly as gold prospectors, store keepers, sly grog dealer, inn keepers and finally, pillars of society (Eaglehawk Gazette 8/6/1860). All in all, a fine Australian ancestral tradition.
 
John Dolman (1813 - 20 Dec 1878) purchased the Camp Hotel, the Whipstick, from a Mrs Deeming. In June 1862, John was granted the licence for the Hotel after departure of the aforementioned Mrs. Deeming (note: at the time licences were granted in June of each year).
 
After the purchase John's wife, Margaret is alleged to have run the Hotel, on her own, while John worked on the diggings and conducted a small store. John is also said to have been a gold buyer but as a lot of the early diggers exchanged their gold dust for supplies this comes as little surprise. As a storekeeper John must have been somewhat successful as in 1865, he constructed a kiln on the site of the old Camp Hotel at Flagstaff Hill and built a new "Camp Hotel" on the same site made out of the bricks. The new Hotel & Store contained 11 rooms, the front 3 being the bar, store and dining room, the rest being 5 bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and a lounge. The building contains 100,000 bricks which cost £1 (pound) per thousand and was valued at £542 at the time of his death. The lime, 25 ton of it was carted by their son John, came from Bendigo while the timber for the roof was milled in the Whipstick forest and pit-sawn into planks.
 
Its is interesting to note that the water supply is a large underground tank which is 20 feet in diameter and 18 feet deep, holding 56,000 gallons. It is unfortunate that John did not turn the water to use in 'puddling' gold as this may even have been more profitable than selling beer and spirits.
 
 
Camp Hotel
 
John Dolman died at the Camp Hotel on 20 December 1878.
 
 
The Will of John Dolman, late of the Camp Hotel Whipstick near Sandhurst in the Colony of Victoria Publican deceased, details, amongst other things, the following debts due by deceased:
 
W Bruce
Brewer
59.15.6
J Fawns
Brewer
24.15.0
GF Hunter
Brewer
24.15.0
J Steward
Brewer
20.06.6
R Moorhead
Wine & Spirit Merchant
19.00.0
D Moorhead
 
55.00.0
 
Given the rather high amounts of moneys owed to brewers and wine and spirit merchants it is worth noting a little of their backgrounds.
 
 
Bruce, Fawns and Hunter were extensively involved in brewing in the Bendigo area throughout the 1850-1900's era. While not the only brewers it would appear that these breweries produced a consistent quality product at a reasonable price. Again it is worth noting that while the above table suggests a 2:1 ration for Bruce breweries the amounts are as they stood at the death of John Dolman. The writer has absolutely no knowledge of the products.
 
Let us then consider the brewers as listed.
 
William Bruce & Sons:
William Bruce arrived from the Shetland Islands in 1852 and by 1864, was involved in brewing. Eventually he was associated with four breweries.

In 1864 Bruce was in partnership with James Fawns (London Brewery) & Michael McNamara (aerated-waters, ginger beer, stout & strong ales) where he traded as William Bruce & Co.

 
Bendigo Brewrey 1880
 
(poss. Fawns top hat centre)
 
In 1872, Bruce sold his interest in the London Brewery and acquired the Bendigo Brewery in partnership with Thomas Barrett (Deutsher: 102). By 1873, Bruce transferred his equipment to the Bendigo Brewery where it remained until 1877, when he transferred it to the Norfolk Brewery at Bridge Street(ibid). The Norfolk Brewery was merged with the City Brewery in 1894.
 
 
James Fawns: joined the London Brewery, High Street, Golden Square (1854-1894) in May 1858. In 1864 William Bruce acquired a share in the brewery and business was conducted by Bruce & Fawns until 1872. Fawns then continued on his own until his death in 1891, when his wife kept the business going for another three years (Deutsher:105).

It is interesting to note that in 1888, the Sandhurst Brewing & Malting co. Ltd., proposed to amalgamate a number of brewing and spirit interest including the business of William Bruce & Sons. In 1890, another proposed amalgamation intended to amalgamate James Fawn's London Brewery into a joint venture. Neither proposal proceeded (Deutsher: 106).

 
 
GF Hunter: Edinburgh Brewery 1853-66 (Bridge Street, Bendigo). George Hunter formed a partnership with Liddle in 1857 and traded until 1866 when they closed the brewery following the acquisition of the Anchor Brewery in High Street (Deutsher: 104). The Anchor Brewery was in effect the City Brewery Co.

The Edinburgh Brewery 'advertised in the Weekly Mercury and Bendigo Mining Journal of 20 January 1860; 'Liddle and Hunter, Edinburgh Brewery, Lower Bridge Street' (op cit).

 
 
City Brewery Co., High Street, Golden Square c 1860-1909. Liddle and Hunter purchased the brewery in 1866, who operated it for two years before selling.
 
 
Unknown
C 1860-66
Anchor Brewery
 
John Holmes
1866
James Liddle & George Hunter
1866-68
George Elliott & James Armstrong
1868-71
City Brewery
 
William Johnston
1871-88
Graham, Johnston & Illingworth
1888-93
City Brewery Co.
 
Johnston & Illingworth
1893-1900
Took over the London Brewery
1894, merged
Took over William Bruce's Brewery
1894, closed
James Illingworth
1900-04
Breheny brothers
1904-07
Bendigo & Northern District Co?operative Brewing Co. Ltd.
1907
 
(Deutsher: 104)
 
 
Albion Brewery 1853-1912
 
 
James Steward: Albion Brewery (Lethaby Road, Sailor's Gully, Eaglehawk) 1853-1912, as John Dolman acquired the Camp Hotel licence in 1862, it is possible that he was amongst the first customers of the brewery. As a publican he would have been attuned to the requirements of his customers and the Albion brewery would have been just one of his suppliers.
 
 
 
Deutsher Keith M
The Breweries of Australia: a history.
Thomas C Lothian Pty Ltd, Port Melbourne; 1999
ISBN 0 085091 986 X
 
Fleet James
A pictorial history of the Victorian Goldfields.
Rigby Limited, Adelaide; 1977
ISBN 0 7270 0208 2
 
Perry William
Tales of the Whipstick.
William Perry, Eaglehawk, Victoria, 3556, Australia; 1975
ISBN 0 9597100 0 0
 
 

     
     
     
 
 
 
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