Steam Brewery / Cannon Brewery

William Knapman was born in Dunsford, England in 1830. He became a carpenter at age 15, and was married at age 23 to Charlotte Bowden. The couple immigrated to South Australia in 1854 on the ‘Taymouth Castle’, and upon arrival he started work as a carpenter at Birkenhead . Mr Knapman built the Lord Exmouth hotel in 1844 on the banks of the Port River near Hawkers Creek. Mr. and Mrs. Knapman had a son William Henry Knapman in 1856, he was born in the hotel.

William lost possession of the Lord Exmouth Hotel in 1860, so he started leasing the White Horse Cellars in Port Adelaide later that year. The White Horse was built in 1851 and was in the center of Port Adelaide. The Knapman family lived upstairs in the Hotel. In 1865 Mr Knapman built a small brewery at the back of the premises to supply the hotel with cheap beer. The brewery quickly built a good reputation and started selling beer outside of the White Horse Hotel. The brewery traded as the Steam Brewery. The brewery was instantly popular, which caused a few problems with the breweries location, bad drainage was a constant problem with local residents complaining on a regular basis, and in 1869 a boiler exploded with a worker and several children gravely injured.

In 1883 the hotel was sold and a new brewery was built on the banks of the Port River. It was the largest brewery in the area. Being close to the river provided good trade in the coastal area’s of South Australia. The brewery was known to sell beer and aerated waters as far away as Port Lincoln. William Henry Knapman was the manager of the new brewery with Mr. O. Hansen as head brewer. The new brewery was named the Cannon Brewery with the trade mark ‘Big Gun’. In 1892 William Knapmans wife Charlotte died, and William re-married in 1895 to Mrs. Cox who was a family friend, who had also came out from England on the same ship as Mr. Knapman. In 1900 Williams oldest son William Henry Knapman died at the age of 44 leaving six children. William Knapman died in 1905 leaving control of the brewery with his son Samuel James Knapman and George Frederick Smith. The brewery was closed in 1910 and converted into a timber-yard. The premises were destroyed by a fire in the 1930’s.






Steam Brewery
Cannon Brewery

Brewery ID : 5.001.016

Steam Brewery -1865 to 1885
St Vincent Street, Port Adelaide
Cannon Brewrey - 1885 to 1910
Cannon Street, Port Adelaide

Established : 1865

Closed : 1910




The Cannon Brewery on Cannon Street, Port Adelaide c1900


William Knapman c1900



South Australian Almanac 1871



The Register 11th December 1896

Labels from the brewery
c1905 (Colours unknown)
c1905 (Colours unknown)
c1905 (Colours unknown)
1909 (Colours unknown)
c1905 (Colours unknown)