‘I allus has wan at eleven’: The story of Sam Knot who enjoyed his beer at 11

one at eleven front
one at eleven

Have you wondered about that old weather beaten bloke standing at the bar in those Carlton and United Brewery posters? You know, the one proclaiming ‘I allus has wan at eleven’?

His name was Sam Knott, an Englishman who had arrived in Australia in about 1890 to try his luck on the goldfields, and this is how he became an early 20th century ‘super model’ for a Victorian brewery.

Carlton and United brewery came across old Sam, who was yardsman at McVeigh’s pub in the Warbuton Ranges in Victoria.

One morning publican Patrick “Paddy” McVeigh introduced Sam to the Carlton traveller who was doing his regular rounds. Offering the old bushman a beer, the sales representative jumped on a chance to use Sam in a marketing promotion after he proclaimed: “I allus has wan at eleven”.

Not to miss an opportunity, out came the traveller’s camera and a few pictures were taken of Sam at the bar with his foaming beer.

mcveigh's hotel
The original McVeigh’s Hotel.

The pictures were in turn past on to the advertising gurus at the brewery, along with his proclamation that he always had a beer at eleven o’clock.

Along with, and long before, ‘I can feel a Tooheys coming on’ or ‘Well, I think I’ve got it right now’ and ‘Give that man a New’, ‘I allus has wan at eleven’ has become a famous slogan in Australia’s beer drinking culture. It was a simple, but an effective slogan which caught the imagination of the drinking public at the time.

sam mcveighs hotel
The original photograph of Sam.

Sam was exactly what a typical Australian bushman was supposed to have looked like, with his grey whiskers and prospectors clothing, and the promotion was a huge success for the brewery. His image was plastered on hoardings all over the State for which he was said to have received a small royalty.

The old prospector was said to have enjoyed his new found fame, and was always keen to relay the story of how he become a pin up boy for Carlton and United Brewery to any one who cared to listen. However, there’s another story of how Sam achieved fame. Just a year after the death of publican Paddy, the Sydney newspaper, Smith’s Weekly reported on May 10 1924:

That 11 am Nip.

There is a fixed Idea in some minds that the original of the Carlton poster “(H)ale and Stout” was a traveller for the brewing company, but the official story is that he was an American type, a Fatty Arbuckle of some artist’s creation, used originally in a collar advertisement. This company’s most famous poster was that of the old fellow leaning over the bar who “allus has one at eleven.” Probably a million people have seen this old chap on the hoardings and wondered who he was. It was Arthur Jackson, of “Don’t Argue” fame, who brought this type under the notice of the brewery people. They had at the time a competition for the best poster, offering a prize of £100, and had selected a West Australian design, when the photograph was offered to them, and they bought the negative for £5. Mr. Jackson had given £3 for it, recognising its advertising value when he saw it in the window of Baker & Rouse. The photograph it-self was taken at McVeigh’s hotel, on the track out past Warburton, by an officer of the Metropolitan Board of Works. The old miner who stood for the picture lived just long enough to learn that he was going to become a famous man. He was to be brought into town to see how he looked on poster, but whether a daily succession of “ones” at eleven, or the outlook of Immortality was too much for him, he died at any rate a fortnight before the poster was put up.

Publican Paddy died at a men’s benevolent asylum at Cheltenham in September 1923. He had retired after the death of his wife several years before.

McVeigh’s Hotel continued trading with a succession of licensees until it burnt to the ground in May 1936.

mcveighs hotel burnt
The aftermath of the fire that destroyed the pub in 1936.

The hotel was rebuilt the following year to cater for the increasing tourist trade visiting the mountains for fishing and hiking expeditions. 

The new pub had hot and cold water, a bowling green, tennis court and even a croquet lawn, which was opened in time for Christmas 1937. 

The hotel was not to last much loner though. I was resumed by the the Victorian Metropolitan Board of Works in 1939 to make way for a massive dam project on the Yarra River.

Today the site where Sam ‘allus had wan at eleven’ has been flooded with water. 

mcveigh's hotel new
The new McViegh’s Hotel, rebuilt in 1937. The hotel eventually closed in 1939.



By J. E. Pyke

If you believe the old Scandinavian legend that the spirits of former occupants return to dance round a burning house, you could have imagined a motley assortment of phantoms among the flames which consumed McVeigh’s Hotel at Walsh’s Creek, beyond Warburton, in the early hours of May 23.

You would have seen bearded diggers in the fire-dance and callow youths, men from most countries of the earth and soil-born Australian cattle men down from the ranges; bronzed timber men and careless easy-going bushwalkers who could turn their hands to anything.

Girls would be there too, capable country girls, their natural rosiness enhanced with the dance. Perhaps a phantom coach would draw up with a party of bygone “town” visitors to join the fiery revelry as they would join anything that was going — men and women from all stations of life.

But the two jolliest ghosts would be Paddy McVeigh – who would send sparks whirling with an Irish jig – and his good wife for they were the life and soul of Walsh’s Creek.

“McVeighs” – as it was known to hundreds of tourists – was situated in a secluded valley at the junction of Walsh’s Creek and the Upper Yarra 20 miles beyond Warburton. The hotel was the highest inhabited house on the Yarra, for there were no buildings, and there was indeed no vehicle road between it and the source of the stream in the wild Baw Baw country. To this remote spot went Paddy McVeigh and his hard-working wife in the last century to establish the Upper Yarra Hotel. There was not even a road at the time – only a bridle track. The pioneering couple recognised that if they did not have much custom at first they would supply a great need for there were many prospectors in the ranges. Material for the house was packed on horses.

When the road was made a few years later it ran past the McVeighs wide verandah, and leaving the Yarra valley continued over the ranges to Woods Point linking the shortest route from Melbourne to the prosperous mining centre. There followed a stream of traffic to and from the diggings in that mountainous area, and many an uproarious night was spent in the old wooden hotel. One night, at the time of a rush, there were no fewer than 300 diggers camped on the flat in front of the hotel, all on their way to the “find”. They were gone the next morning. Later many of them camped there on the way back but they were in twos and threes, and their passing took many nights.

The Golden Trail Mines near McVeighs were the Golden Bower, on a tributary of Walsh’s Creek (where working was recently revived) and the Contention mine seven miles up the Yarra. The machinery for the Contention, including a quartz battery was lowered down the mountain side from a point on the Woods Point road and dragged to its destination by horses. The bridle track from McVeigh’s to the mine is now familiar to tourists. It is part of the popular Warburton-Walhalla Track, beloved of hikers. All the streams and gullies in the district have been well worked for gold. The angler of today must be wary of old time water races, shafts and cuts that remain, half-hidden in the scrub.

The golden days waned. Interest in McVeigh’s changed to a milder but still an exciting and elusive pursuit – trout fishing.

Early in the century the place was “discovered” by anglers. Even at that time the Upper Yarra was well stocked with trout, and the native blackfish were numerous and heavy. City folk liked the place, too, and found that a sojourn in that pleasant valley was a source of happy memories. Mrs. McVeigh and her attractive daughters catered for their guests in the real old Australian way.

Paddy was a typical Irish landlord of the old school. Genial, witty and generous, he was the friend of all. Hungry and thirsty wayfarers, without the “where-withal” had no need to pass McVeigh’s. Though Paddy was never known to have gone fishing, he took a keen interest in the fishermen who, in his later days, went to stay at the establishment. They were wise if they did not take on their host at quoits, for “the boss” had developed a great deal of skill at just missing the peg – until there was “something on” the game.

The hotel achieved wide advertisement when a photograph taken in the bar was used by a brewery for a poster. This depicted a bearded labourer lovingly holding a mug of his favourite brew, with the caption, “I allus ‘as one at eleven.”

Old Sam, the subject of the photograph was for some years the gardener at McVeigh’s, and he always did have one at eleven, so the caption was just as true as the picture. But he had others at other times too; which enabled his employer to pay his wages, “a pound a week and found” with the same banknote each week for more than a year. Paddy always got it back before the following Saturday, and kept it carefully away from other notes in the till. He said that Sam had taken a fancy to it. For many years McVeigh’s boasted a newspaper—the “Walsh’s Creek Exciter”. This was produced at odd intervals for circulation among visitors and residents. Like Fawkner’s famous paper, the first number was handwritten; but later it achieved greater dignity. It had several editors, more than one of whom had shone in far wider fields of journalism and literature. Fishermen should appreciate the following gems of wisdom from its pages:- “There’s many a snag ‘twixt the fish and the bag”; “A rolling stone frightens the fish”; “Early to bed and early to rise, is the one way to dodge the mosquitoes and flies.” Many tales – strange and otherwise – could be told of fishing adventures at McVeigh’s, but their full flavour can be transmitted only orally.

Mrs. McVeigh died shortly after the war, and her husband did not survive her many years. Since then the place has had many vicissitudes, and to those who knew it in “the good old days” (really good in this case), the place was never the same. Out of the ashes of the old building, no doubt, a new one will arise. But it will not be like the house that McVeigh built. None of the aura of the past will cling to it. It will belong to the modern age that has reduced a day’s journey from the city to one of a little more than two hours.

Let these verses from the “Walsh’s Creek Exciter” serve as an epitaph:-

 “Who’er has travelled life’s dull round,

Whe’er his footsteps might have been,

May sigh to think he still has found

His warmest welcome at an inn.”

Who’er from cities’ hush and din,

From flattery and falsehood flees,

Will search in vain to find an inn

That is more welcome than McVeigh’s.

And when old Time’s remorseless will

Has made it but a memory,

Whoever knew will sigh for still

The inn kept warm by old McVeigh.

 – The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) Saturday 4 July 1936

Subscribe to the latest Time Gents’ stories

PayPal Bar Tip

If you would like to support my work, you can leave a small tip here of $2, or several small tips, just increase the amount as you like. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs.



Instead, you can make a credit card donation towards the publication of The Time Gents website. If you would like to support my work, you can leave a $2.50 donation here, or you can increase the amount after clicking or tapping into the icon below. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs and research.

Categories: Breweries

Tags: , , ,

3 replies

  1. Alovely and interesting story.

  2. I have 2 glass mirrored signs of Allus, original and very good condition. Do you know if they are worth any value ?

  3. Great story, love this guy, and certainly enjoy Carlton Mid strength to drink. Thankyou for sharing. Very interesting. Cheers Robin Prentice.

What's Your Thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: