Sunday History Photo / WA

Submitted: Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 05:14
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The brewing of beer in Western Australia commenced with the Albion Brewery which opened in 1837 at the foot of Spring Street and Mounts Bay Road, central Perth by James Stokes. James Stokes opened the Stanley Brewery in 1848. The Stanley Brewery Co. Ltd. was formed in 1887. In 1905, a new company, the Stanley Co-operative Brewery was formed to control the manufacture of beer, while the Stanley Brewery Co. Ltd. carried on as the owner of hotel freehold properties in the Perth metropolitan area. It also held a two-third share in the new company, which in 1908 became the Emu Co-operative Brewery Ltd. The Emu Brewery was eventually taken over by the Swan Brewery Company.
In 1857 Frederick Sherwood established a new brewery at the foot of what is now Sherwood Court in Perth, calling it the Swan Brewery, after the black swans that he had seen on the river. Sherwood inherited a successful building firm from his father Richard in 1831 and migrated to the Swan River Colony, with his wife Jessey and three children in 1843. Sherwood, who had been working as an architect/surveyor/builder, established the brewery after the death of his wife, in order to support his six children. He saw the Swan river as the ideal place to build a brewery, as the Swan provided fresh, clean water for making the beer, hiring convicts as a source of cheap labour.

Following Sherwood’s death in 1874, the family offered the Swan Brewery for lease. The lease was taken up by Ferguson and Mumme who appreciated the value of its pure water supply. In 1879 the Swan Brewery was moved to a site at the foot of Mount Eliza not far from the Stanley Brewery and another new brewery, the Lion Brewery. The former buildings continued to be used as a bottling plant. In 1886 the partnership between Ferguson and Mumme was dissolved and Mumme continued as part owner of the Swan Brewery. The Swan Brewery Company Ltd was incorporated in Melbourne in 1887.

In 1888 the Swan Brewery took over the neighbouring Lion Brewery. In 1906 the bottling works attached to the brewery were destroyed by fire, with a new facility constructed closer to the city. In 1927 Swan acquired control of Fremantle’s Castlemaine Brewery. In 1928 the Emu Brewery Ltd which can trace its origins back to the Albion Brewery was purchased by the Swan Brewery. In 1945 Swan bought the last other Western Australian brewing company, the Kalgoorlie Brewing Company. The brewery extended its operations to the Northern Territory in 1957, but in 1972 lost its foothold there to Carlton and United Breweries. The brewery ceased production at the Mounts Bay site in 1966 moved all brewing operations to the Emu Brewery site in Spring Street. In 1966, it made an arrangement to brew Skol beer in Western Australia, discontinuing the line in 1975. In 1972, it invested in the New Guinea company of San Miguel and Swan Holdings Ltd, which it sold in 1974. In 1978 the brewery was relocated to Canning Vale, an industrial estate in Perth's southern suburbs. In October 1981 Alan Bond, through his company, Bond Corporation purchased the Swan Brewery for A$164M. In 1983 Bond Corporation acquired Castlemaine Tooheys for A$1,200M, with this acquisition Bond Corporation controlled approximately half of Australia’s beer market, virtually all of Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales. In 1982 the Swan Brewery becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Alan Bond's Bond Corporation. The assets of the Swan Brewery included the subsidiary ‘Kalgoorlie Brewing Co’. On 21 November 1982 just 12 months after the takeover the Kalgoorlie Brewery ceased operations and the brewery was dismantled.
In September 1990 New Zealand brewing company, Lion Nathan purchased a 50% stake in Bond Corporation's brewing operations, Bond Brewing (which included the Swan Brewery), subsequently purchasing the remainder of the company two years later. As of 2007, Swan Brewery Pty Ltd, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lion Nathan operating as independent brewery under the Lion Nathan umbrella. In 2009 Lion Nathan was taken over by Japanese brewer, Kirin Brewery Company.

On 12 October 2012 Lion Nathan resolved to close the Canning Vale operations of the Swan Brewery by March 2013 and move production interstate. The Swan and Emu beer brands and keg production would be transferred to the company's West End Brewery in South Australia and pack production would move to James Boag & Son Brewery in Tasmania.
The buildings that comprise the Old Swan Brewery complex were originally built in 1838 as a mill for timber-cutting as well as flour-grinding. These were the first steam driven mills in Western Australia, they were later taken over as one of the first convict depot (following the acceptance of convict transportation by the colony in 1850), the buildings were subsequently (between 1959 and 1879) used as a tannery, and at one time contained a restaurant (used by travellers between Perth and Fremantle). In 1877 it was acquired by the Swan Brewery Company. The brewery buildings constructed in 1879 on the Swan River foreshore beneath Mount Eliza became one of Perth's dominant and favourite landmarks. It was surrounded by a complex of other buildings which have since been demolished or redeveloped. The car-park building on the opposite side of Mount's Bay Road replaced the historic stables which caught fire and were demolished in 1988.
Nevertheless, the state's Heritage Council noted that, prior to redevelopment,The place contains, albeit partially demolished, the finest connected group of late-Victorian and early 20th-century brewery buildings in Australia in a red brick and tile Federation style idiom.
In 1989, the West Australian state government vested the site in the building company Multiplex for a peppercorn rental, with a view to its being redeveloped as a commercial precinct. Perth's Noongar community reminded the state government of the site's ancient and sacred Indigenous Australian significance, and established a protest camp on the site, while challenging the issue at law and seeking to have the land reclassified as a public reserve. They were opposed by a Brewery Preservation Group which argued the indisputable heritage value of at least the 1879 industrial building. The developers argued that the brewery had been built on land reclaimed from the Swan River and, therefore, the site of Noongar heritage importance was further inland, close to the Mount Eliza escarpment and the fresh water spring known as Kennedy's Fountain. Ultimately the protest was unsuccessful and the development of the property went ahead. The on-site protest had endured for many months and culminated in a bitter but non-violent confrontation with police on 8 January 1990 at which several arrests were made. In August 1992, police had to break through picket lines to allow development work to proceed.
The Swan Brewery in Canning Vale was shut down early 2013 with the loss of about 80 jobs and production moved interstate. Owner Lion said the production of Swan and Emu beer brands and keg production would be transferred to its West End Brewery in South Australia. WA pack production would move to James Boag & Son Brewery in Tasmania.

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Reply By: Member - Heather L - Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 07:37

Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 07:37
Thanks Doug - and I gave up drinking beer when they stopped making my Hannan's lager at Kalgoorlie. Legend has it the last keg is buried somewhere on the goldfields!
Cheers Heather
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Follow Up By: Phil B (WA) - Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 09:14

Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 09:14
Hi Heather,

I think its am myth - I can't believe that Goldfielders would bury a keg and if they did how long do you reckon they would leave it there.

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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 19:56

Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 19:56
Hi Phil

I don't think it is a myth!

The coffin that the keg was allegedly buried in is currently propped up in the corner of the verandah at the old Gwalia Mine-site office (now the museum) just below Hoover House.

The plaque on the coffin references the last Keg of Hannan's and the subsequent exhumation and consumption.

But even this could be folk lore?


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Reply By: WBS - Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 08:16

Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 08:16
Thanks Doug,
Brewing Swan Lager in South Australia!!! That's adding insult to injury. I'll never have a Swan Lager again. It would be like a sacrilegious act!

As a kid I remember driving along the Kwinana freeway and seeing the brewery decked out in lights to make it look sailing ship on the water.

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Reply By: Phil B (WA) - Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 09:21

Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 09:21
Great write up Doug, most enjoyable.

As a follow - the redeveloped old brewery site has some of the most prestigious apartments in Perth. One was up for sale for $2.65m


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Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 11:00

Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 11:00
Yes, once again, we can thank Alan Bond and his greedy, money-grabbing and scrip-shuffling efforts, for destroying a great West Aussie icon in the shape of the Swan Brewery Company, and letting it fall under global corporation control.

Bond's record of destroying long-standing West Aussie businesses, and throwing thousands of locals out of work by doing so, is unparalleled in W.A. history - and deep hatred for the man is still rampant.

Doug, I never knew the first brewery was at the foot of Sherwood Court, you learn something new every day. Thanks for the interesting write-up.

In OP's tavern, on Scarborough Beach Rd, there's a great picture of a truck identified as a Samson, belonging to the Swan Brewery, hauling beer.
I don't believe it is a Samson, as there's no record of any Samson trucks sold in W.A. - and Samson only built trucks for 3 yrs, ending in 1923 - and the brewery truck looks like about a 1930 model.
I can't ID the truck, though, it's certainly an unusual truck.

These pics show just how far Swan and Emu beers travelled. There was no need for chilling of the beer where these blokes were!

Swan and Emu beer in the deepest South

Amazingly, only two Swan Brewery employees, are recorded as having stolen beer! - in 1945. Maybe these two prosecutions were just a warning to keep the pilfering to a modest level!?

Men fined for stealing beer
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Reply By: Member - ACD 1 - Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 20:03

Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 20:03
Thanks Doug - fantastic as usual.

I remember travelling up the freeway as a kid to see the Christmas lights in Perth. The riverside of the brewery was lit up in the shapes of different ships and boats. From memory I think there were four or five and if you were lucky you would get to see them all cycle through.

Also we couldn't wait to see the Old Perth Mill all lit up and the big pine tree next to it done up as a Christmas tree.

I think I have some photos of the brewery somewhere. I will put them up if I can find them.



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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 20:41

Sunday, Nov 03, 2013 at 20:41
Unfortunately these are not my images - they were lifted from Google - I don't know who the owners are so I can't credit them.

They will give you the idea though.


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