Ballarat Distillery Company

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Ballarat Distillery Company
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Town Ballarat
Street Wendouree Parade
Opened 1867
Known dates 1866-1878

The Ballarat Distillery Company operated a distillery in Ballarat in 1866-1878>.

Site[edit | edit source]

The site was described as near "the swamp" as Lake Wendouree was known[1], and in Wendouree Parade in 1873.[2]

Background[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

In July 1866 the prospectus for the new company was reported in the Ballarat Star:

The prospectus of the Ballarat Distillery Company is advertised in another column, and is formed to work a patent invention made by Mr E. M. Meyer, and already erected by him at the Swamp Distillery. The company is hereafter intended to be further extended by taking additional premises.[3]

In November 1867 the Argus reported that the new buildings were nearly completed.[1]

The official opening of production was in January 1868:

The new works in connection with the Ballarat Distillery Company, of which Mr Erie Magnus Meyer is the manager, being now nearly complete, several of the shareholders assembled at the distillery this afternoon, and in the usual formal manner started the engine. The additions made by the company comprise a substantial stone and brick building, in which are rooms appropriated to various uses; and the machinery appears to be exceedingly perfect. The wash, after leaving the fermenting tubs, travels through-pipes for 320 feet, and then it first becomes strong spirit. A feature about this distillery is that only one still is employed, while with the majority of distilleries the wash passes through some three or four stills before it be comes strong spirit and then is not equal to that produced by this company. The present capital of the company is £10,000 in 1000 shares of £10, each of which (150) are paid up, and a few are still available to the public. There are at present only 23 shareholders, and yet they have orders which will occupy them to the fullest extent, namely, about 10,000 gallons per week. Mr Macdermott, chairman of the company, in proposing success to the enterprise, entered at length into the intentions and prospects of the promoters.[4]

The company began operations in 1868:

The Ballarat Distillery Company's distilling apparatus is now in full operation, the process of distilling being carried on day and night. The first running of the still has been already brought into the market in the shape of spirits more than 60 o.p., and has been pronounced by competent persons to be superior to any English imported spirit. The company will commence this week to manufacture gin, and sanguine expectations are entertained that something even better than any of the famous brands at present in the market will be forthcoming.[5]

In June 1868 the company had a new still made in Melbourne:

One of the largest stills yet made in Victoria has recently been completed by Mr Forshaw, of Flinders-lane, for the Ballarat Distillery Company. It comprises a wash still of a thousand gallons, and a spirit still of six hundred gallons. It is capable of making a complete distillation in one operation, and it is said to be the most perfect apparatus of the kind in Victoria.[6]

In December 1868 the company was awarded a prize for its colonial gin:

A letter from the Ballarat Distillery Company requested the council to substitute a medal for the sum of money awarded to the company for a sample of colonial gin exhibited by them. The board directed the secretary to inform the company that the request could not be complied with, as the board did not possess a die, and the expense of making one would be L40 or L50.[7]

In December 1868 there were complaints about the disposal of waste water and grain from the distillery. These claims were denied:

THE GNARR CREEK NUISANCE. TO THE EDITOR OF THE STAR. SIR—If your correspondent from the Gnarr Creek, instead of affecting a friendship with humanity, would cultivate an acquaintance with truth, his time would be more profitably occupied than in compiling sensational falsehoods. His letter in to-day's Star is simply a tissue of untruth from beginning to end, and any of your readers or a peripatetic reporter from your establishment can satisfy himself as to this. He refers to an " immense piggery" belonging to a " regular company" intended for 1000 pigs, and within 50 feet of the houses, with the concomitants of stench &c. The piggery in question does not contain 40 pigs. It belongs to a private individual, Mr Hull, who purchases the grains from the distillery. It is not within 100 feet of any dwelling, and it is perfectly free from smell, or anything approaching to a nuisance. If our friend to humanity will back his assertions with his money, I am prepared to wager £5 that the piggery in question is less a nuisance than his own premises, and is in a cleaner condition than the house in which he resides. I have taken some trouble to ascertain the fact. He refers to "a boiling-down establishment for pigs in Mr Duncan's garden." No such establishment exists, and I do not believe that Mr Duncan has a pig in his possession. His charge against the distillery is equally impudent and untruthful. Not one particle of refuse of any kind has for a considerable time flowed from the distillery to the creek. The only flow is a stream of pure water, amounting to some thousand gallons per day, when distillation is going on, and which water, by the way, is available for the piggery in question, though your correspondent asserts there is no water. Whatever nuisance may be in or about the creek arises from the filthy drain and cesspools of the shanties and other habitations in the immediate neighborhood, and not from the distillery or from any pigs. If your correspondent will attend to tho cleansing of his own premises and join with his neighbors in procuring the removal of these disgusting appendages to their respective dwellings, which simultaneously pollute the soil, the air, and the Gnarr Creek, instead of casting dirt on the enterprise of those who have established the Ballarat Distillery, he will do much to abate "the Gnarr Creek monster nuisance," to which he himself is a larger contributor than those whom he slanders in your columns.-Yours, &c., A Director of the Ballarat Distillery Company. 22nd December.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE STAR. Sir,—Several letters have appeared in the Star under the bland appellation of "A Friend to Humanity,"complaining of a pig nuisance said to exist near the distillery at "Wendouree. When this sensational writer can iind sufficient truthfulness or honesty of purpose in his nature to attach his name and residence (if he is not ashamed of both) to his false representation, I will then reply to his charges. Meanwhile, allow me to inform the public that this so-called nuisance belongs to me, and that the Inspector of Nuisances knows my name and address, and is kindly invited to inspect my premises at any time, and at all times, and to point out and have removed any grievance that he may think desirable for the sanitary condition of the neighborhood.—Yours, &c., FRED. GEO. HULL.[8]

In April 1870 the company asked for a discounted water rate from the Ballarat Water Board:

From H. Brind, for the Ballarat Distillery Company, asking for a reduction in the water rate. In reference to this, Mr Steinfeld, after a few remarks on the advisability of encouraging local manufactories, moved that the Distillery Company be informed that as long as the by-wash is running over they shall be supplied with water at the same rate as the mining companies. This was not carried, but the letter was referred to the finance committee for consideration and report.[9]

In May 1871 the company was offered for sale or lease:

FOR SALE or LEASE, the Ballarat Distillery Company's LAND, BUILDING, DISTILLING, and ROLLING-PLANT, Stock in-trade, &c, with a frontage of 132ft. to Lake Wendouree, Ballarat, on which are erected:

1 four-story bluestone building, 85 X 27
1 two story do do, 25 x 31
1 two story bluestone and brick do, 42 x 20
1 wooden building 48 x 37, wooden sheds 155 x 12, &c., comprising offices, still-house, engine and fermenting rooms ; spirit, bond and grain stores ; cooper's, bottle, and cask sheds, With:
1 set of wash, low wine, and rectifying copper stills, condensers, spirit safe, feints receivers, &c.
1 patent rectifying still, condensers, spirit safe, feints receiver, &c.

1 steam-engine and boiler, pumps, mashing machine, fermenting and spirit vats, wash charger, cooler, tanks, tools, and every other requisite and appliance for commencing and carrying on the manufacture of geneva, whiskey, rectified spirit, old tom, &c. For further particulars apply to HENRY BRIND, Ballarat.[10]

In November 1872 the company was displaying its gin, whisky and rectified spirits at the Melbourne International Exhibition.[11]

In January 1873 the company was advertising a tender for new stills:

BALLARAT DISTILLERY COMPANY, Wendouree-parade, Ballarat. TENDERS WANTED for the following STILLS, with specified thickness of copper and drawings :

  • 1 x 300 gall. copper low wine still, with steam and condensing worms complete
  • 1 x 250 gall. copper spirit still, with steam and condensing worms complete
  • 1 x 160 gall. copper still (body only) with steam worm
  • 1 x - copper condensing worm for 1000 gallon wash still.

Also for the purchase of old (copper) stills, &c. HENRY BRIND, Secretary.[12]

In 1873 the company failed to collect their prize money from the Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society:

Mr Bath moved—“ That the resolution of the committee re the cancelled cheque to the Ballarat Distillery Company, for the sum of £4, be re-considered.” It appeared that a rule existed for cancelling all cheques for prizes that were unclaimed for six months. The Distillery Company had neglected to call for a cheque for a prize awarded to them.—Mr Bath’s motion was negatived, and it was determined not to pay the money.[13]

In March 1873 the company were advertising for grain:

Ballarat distillery company, Wendouree Parade, Are CASH PURCHASES of BARLEY! BARLEY! BARLEY! WHEAT! WHEAT! WHEAT! RYE! RYE! RYE! SCREENINGS! SCREENINGS! Samples to be submitted to the manager, at the Works. HENRY BRIND, Secretary.[2]

In March 1878 the newspaper reported the premises and effects of the company were sold for £19,508.[14]

Community Involvement[edit | edit source]

The People[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1867 'COUNTRY NEWS.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 5 November, p. 6. , viewed 12 Jul 2019,
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 1873 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 22 March, p. 3. , viewed 12 Jul 2019,
  3. 1866 'NEWS AND NOTES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 14 July, p. 2. , viewed 13 Jul 2019,
  4. 4.0 4.1 1868 'BALLARAT.', Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1929), 17 January, p. 3. , viewed 12 Jul 2019,
  5. 1868 'SOCIAL.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 2 March, p. 4. , viewed 12 Jul 2019,
  6. 1868 'TRIBUTES TO VICTORIAN ENTERPRISE.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 26 June, p. 3. , viewed 12 Jul 2019,
  7. BOARD OF AGRICULTURE. (1868, December 17). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved July 12, 2019, from
  8. 1868 'THE GNARR CREEK NUISANCE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 25 December, p. 2. , viewed 12 Jul 2019,
  9. 1870 'WATER SUPPLY COMMITTEE.', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1883; 1914 - 1918), 23 April, p. 4. , viewed 12 Jul 2019,
  10. 1871 'Advertising', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 2 May, p. 8. , viewed 13 Jul 2019,
  11. 1872 'MISCELLANEOUS.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 6 November, p. 4. , viewed 13 Jul 2019,
  12. 1873 'Advertising', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 4 January, p. 3. , viewed 13 Jul 2019,
  13. 1873 'BALLARAT AGRICULTURAL AND PASTORAL SOCIETY.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 3 March, p. 3. , viewed 12 Jul 2019,
  14. 1878 'NEWS SCRAPS.', Kyneton Guardian (Vic. : 1870 - 1880; 1914 - 1918), 16 March, p. 2. , viewed 12 Jul 2019,

External Links[edit | edit source]