Two significant figures of 19th century Launceston were John Griffiths and John Scott, who together built the Tamar Brewery.
The story began with Griffiths arriving in Launceston with his father and two brothers in 1820 and settling near the later brewery site.
After establishing himself as a trader and shipbuilder, Griffiths turned his hand to building, completing a wharf and in 1834 the Tamar Street bridge.
Meanwhile, John Scott had been born in 1829 in Hobart, then orphaned.
Somehow Griffiths became involved and adopted the little boy.
When Scott turned 12, Griffiths apprenticed him to John Fawns at the Cornwall Brewery in Margaret Street.
This set him on his life's career.
After several changes of ownership at the Cornwall, Scott left, taking a position as chief brewer for George Lukin's Wharf Brewery.
Now established and secure, Scott married Griffiths' daughter Elizabeth, in 1854.
When Lukin sold in 1856, Scott decided to go out on his own, setting up the Tamar Brewery on the Griffiths property at the bottom of Charles Street, on the south side of today's Canal Street (opposite Harvey Norman).
His father-in-law facilitated the venture financially, as Scott's silent partner.
The silent investment probably suited Griffiths, as he'd only recently returned from a strategic stay at Port Fairy in Victoria, after a financial embarrassment.
Thus the Tamar Brewery began formally as a "Scott & Co" enterprise.
As his wealth and status improved, Scott became a councillor in 1861 and mayor in 1867 and 1868 - in which capacity he welcomed the Duke of Edinburgh to Launceston for the 1868 royal visit.
Along the way, he produced Launceston's first bottled beer "Tasmanian Ale" in 1863.
He built 'Fairview', a fine home in Ann Street in 1870, and heavily backed the introduction of railways.
The Tamar Brewery quickly became a very successful and physically impressive enterprise.
Built around a quadrangle, you entered through a massive archway, looking across the yard to a granary and malting house.
As for John Scott, his career reached its apex when elected an MHA in 1865, then MLC for Tamar in 1880.
The little orphan had done well.
John Griffiths died in 1881, leaving his sons Thomas and Frederick to take over their father's share.
They joined their brother-in-law to become active in the business.
For a few years things continued well, until Scott sold 'Fairview' in 1888 intending to retire to Sydney. Sadly, this didn't happen.
He had a stroke in 1890, then recovered sufficiently to pop up to Melbourne to visit family, where a second stroke killed him.
Despite the acknowledged quality of their product, increased competition gradually sapped the brewery's profitability, until reduced demand in the Great War proved the final nail in their coffin.
The grand old enterprise closed in June 1917.
They were the last of the independents in Launceston.
Boags bought the plant and premises shortly after.
- Connect with the past, visit Launceston Historical Society - Facebook.com/launcestonhistory
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