Beer Strike

outside balgownie hotel

Outside Balgownie Hotel one Sunday morning 1933; persons in photograph: Top row L-R: Bob Rudland (bootmaker), Andy Walker, Joe Thompson, Ron Caldwell (butcher), Doc O’Neill, Charlie Edwards, Frank Rogers. Centre row L-R: Johnny Ogle, Bill Kelly, Perc Edwards, Bob Scarlett, Ern Bond (barber), Bill Banks, Scamp Johnson. Front: Winnie the dog and Jim Young.


At a meeting of the hotel keepers of Wollongong district on Thursday last it was decided to raise the price of the pint of beer to 4 pence. This rise brought about a beer strike at Balgownie where there is only one hotel, the miners of that locality refusing to pay the increase. On Friday night and Saturday all available coaches were requisitioned to bring miners to Wollongong. As a result of the strike Balgownie “soft” drink shops did a big business. The strike is still on.

– Sydney Morning Herald January 19 1915

The Beer Strike

THERE are five reasons why men drink –

Good wine, a friend; or being dry,

Or lest you should be by and by,

Or any other reason why.

THE above lines by a poet advance the reason why some men drink, but, it remained for a district hotel keeper to find out that even given all the above reasons in, men will not drink if they consider the price is excessive.

In the centre in question on Saturday all the five reasons were in evidence and yet the local hotel was not doing the usual pay Saturday trade.

The reason was asked of a gentleman in the vicinity of the hotel, who looked as if he possessed at least one of the five qualifications— that of being dry. He was dry and admitted the fact.

Strike me,” said he “Do you’s think we are going to part up four pence for a mug of beer.”

We asked him if he considered the amount excessive, and he looked with a withering contempt that was at least expressive.

Subsequent inquiry proved that the local hotel keeper had that day informed his clients that in future mugs of beer would be dispensed at the rate of 4 pence.

The clients decided that they would not show their mugs within his premises whilst this state of affairs existed. Result: A falling off in the hotel keeper’s trade and a hasty trek of thirsty mortals to Wollongongwhere threepence secured for them the nectar dispensed as beer.

Some remained behind but patronised the cool drink shop, where trade advanced to such an unprecedented degree that a special consignment of Parkinson’s ambrosial cordials had to be despatched to drown the thirst of the individuals on strike against 4 pence for a mug of beer.

Still the evidence was that there was a large exodus to Wollongong, where beer is still dispensed at 3 pence per glass, and as a result the local policeman was yawning from ennui at an early hour, a fact unprecedented in the annals of the hamlet.

– Illawarra Mercury Tuesday 19 January 1915

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Categories: Illawarra Hotels, NSW hotels

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