The Swan Brewery is unquestionably one of the finest of its kind in Australia. Its large premises, extending with yards and stables over 54 acres of land, are situate on one of the loveliest spots on the banks of the Swan River, from which it takes its name, about a mile and a half from the city.
The photograph presented on this page will, however, afford a better idea of the beauty of the scenery in the vicinity of the brewery than any written description could offer. It is charming from every aspect, and also most healthful and pleasant.
The commercial success which has attended the company’s operations during the past few years is phenomenal. It was established in 1887, but for the first decade of its existence it did not prove over successful.
The commencement of the building up of the splendid business which the company now carries on dates back to 1890, in January of which year its present manager, Mr Thomas Wall Hardwick, took charge. Mr Hardwick had enjoyed an experience in the brewing trade in England extending over five and twenty years, and the records of his English and West Australian companies are practical proof of his competency and special ability. He established and managed for many years the Ashton Gate Brewery, at Bristol, which is probably the most successful limited liability company in England, paying dividends at the rate of 25 per cent.
This brewery was established in 1865, and in 1866 Mr Hardwick came out to Australia, and after a little while took charge of Lindsay’s Brewery Company, in New South Wales, where he remained until his services were retained by the Swan Brewery Company.
Before entering upon a description of the brewery premises, a reference to the financial position of the company is of interest. The paid-up capital is £44,384 7s 6d, and the assets of the company are valued to-day at £128,900 12s 8d. The first dividend paid was 6d, for the half-year ending September 31, 1895. The second dividend, for the half-year ending March 31, 1896, amounted to 1s, and after that the dividends have amounted to 3s per share, being over 34 per cent.
The brewery had commenced to make a profit a little before the period mentioned, but losses had to be made up before dividends could be declared. In addition to the sums paid as dividends the com-pany has undivided profits to the extent of £71,000. It possesses to-day freehold properties which stand in the last balance-sheet at the valuation of £52,327 9s, and no mortgages have been effected or debentures issued. As showing the marvellous expansion of the business of the company, a quotation may be made from its last report:— Sales have increased from an average of £550 per month in 1890 to £11,000 per month in 1898, and the net profits of the company for the year from March 31, 1897, to March 31, 1898, exceeded 85 per cent, on the paid-up capital. This splendid result was attained despite the fact that eighteen new breweries, eight in the immediate neighborhood of Perth and Fremantle and ten on the eastern goldfields, had started operations.
In face of these figures and facts it is quite unnecessary to say one word of praise of the energy and skilful control of the business on the part of the management. And the increase in the trade is still continuing.
The company has been fortunate in obtaining a plentiful supply of pure fresh water from springs in the neighborhood. The depth sunk was 60 feet, and the supply is so plentiful that the water can scarcely be pumped out fast enough. It is to the purity of this water, as well as to the skilful brewing, that the Swan ale owes its reputation. The plant was at first very small. The total capacity was 12 hogsheads per day, and it could only work for four days in the week. At the present day when fully worked the plant will give an output of 1200 hogs-heads per week. There are three brewing plants, one of twenty-five hogsheads capacity, one of 50, and one of 100 hogs-capacity, one of 50, and one of 100 hogsheads.
There are two engines, one the manufacture of Clayton and Shuttleworth, and the other that of Tangye Bros., and steam pumps, of the Worthington type. The whole of the brewing plant was manufactured by Messrs Llewellyn and James, of Bristol, a celebrated firm of brewers’ engineers.
As regards the last new copper obtained by the Swan Brewery Company, an extract from the “Brewer’s Journal” is interesting. It states:- “A copper manufactured by Llewllyn and James, of Bristol, for the Swan Brewery, Perth, Western Australia, was so large that it could not be sent from Bristol to London by rail or steamboat, and it had to be despatched by timber waggon by road, men having to be despatched ahead with flags in the narrow roads.”
The sight of this enormous copper, full of boiling ale in process of manufacture, is in itself remarkable. The extent of the premises can be gauged from the photograph. The new brewery and plant, which is the latest addition, cost the company £13,000. In addition to these buildings, the com-pany has erected a malthouse at a cost of £8000, which is the most perfect of its kind in Australia. To give an idea of the magnitude of the work performed here, it may be mentioned that the out-put last season was 20,000 bushels. This is in addition to the smaller malthouse which existed previously. Plans are also being prepared for another malthouse of similar capacity. A new bottling establishment has been erected on the site of the old Lion Brewery, which was acquired by the company in 1888. This also on the river bank, about one nearer the town than the brewery…
The Swan Brewery is, in fact, one of the sights of Perth… The great brewers’ drays, with splendid horses, sleek coated and stout, form also a pleasant feature on the road winding round to the brewery. They are to be seen all over Perth, at the railway stations, the hotels, and in the thoroughfares. It is altogether an enormous business, and still so well managed and carried out that, notwithstanding the size of the works, the large number of men employed, and other evidences of a large trade, there is no apparent hurry or bustle.
The city office of the company is in St. George’s Terrace, Perth.
– Weekly Times September 10 1898