The Walkerville brewery begins with a tale of 2 breweries within a stones throw from each other. The first was started by W.H.Colyer and William Williams on Warwick Street Walkerville. Mr William Williams arrived in South Australia on the Cygnet in 1836, and by 1838 he had started the Union Brewery on Rundle Street with business Partners Daniel Cudmore and Thomas Thompson. The partners soon sold the business and went there separate ways. By 1844 Mr Williams found a new business partner in Mr W H Colyer and the pair built a new brewery on the banks of the River Torrens between Nailsworth Terrace and Warwick Streets in Walkerville.
The second brewery was also started in 1844 by Mr James Thomson, on the corners of Richmond Street and Fuller Streets in Walkerville. This brewery was smaller in size and did not have the advanced equipment that the Warwick Street brewery possessed. Mr Colyer left the Warwick Street brewery in November 1844 and returned to England, this left Mr Williams without a brewer, so James Thomson was approached at brew for the Warwick Street brewery, which he accepted, and thus the Richmond Street brewery was effectively closed.
Mr Williams and Mr Thomson continued to brew at the brewery until 1852 when Mr Williams sold the site to Mr Philip Levi, though Mr Thomson continued as brewer at the brewery. Mr Levi was born in England in 1822 and he arrived in South Australia in 1838 upon the Eden. Mr Levi was already a influential businessman and had pastoral land around the state. Philip left the running of the brewery to his brother Edmund Levi. The brewery would come to be known as Levi’s Brewery even though the management of the brewery changed by 1856, with Mr Thomson as manager and brewer and several business partners, Mr Charles White in 1856 to 1857 and Mr William Knox Simms in 1858 to 1860. The malthouse was destroyed by a fire in 1860. After much trouble Mr Thomson and new business partner George Huntley started to construct a new brewery on site of his first brewery, the new brewery would be much larger and would accommodate the growing business.
The new brewery was finished in 1864 and Mr Thomson left the partnership soon after the site was completed, though he stayed on as brewer. George Ball a previous worker at Levi’s brewery went into partnership with George Huntley and they named the new brewery the Ball & Huntley’s Black Horse Brewery. Mr James Thomson died in 1870, he was the head brewer for the Walkerville Breweries for 24 years. Mr George Ball died in 1882 leaving George Huntley to run the business. The brewery was put up for sales in 1889 and was purchased by a group of Hotel Keepers.
Vincent Henry Simpson (Buckingham Arms hotel), Samuel Harris (Brompton), John Selby Cocker (Kentish Arms) and Robert Hyman (General Havelock) purchased the ‘Black Horse Brewery’ and renamed it ‘The Walkerville Co-Operative Brewing Company’. In 1895 another 16 hotelkeepers joined the Co-Op. On the 27th of May 1898 the company was incorporated having capital of eight thousand five hundred pounds. The four original business partners were kept on as directors of the company.
On the 23rd of July 1898 the Torrenside brewery was purchased and brewing ceased at Walkerville. all operations moved to the new site at Winwood Street Southwark. The official opening of the new brewery was on the 4th of November 1899. The old brewery was sold to the Williams Brothers who brewed there until 1906. In 1926 the ‘Walkerville Brewery’ installed a Nathan System Lager Brewery to produce high quality Lager beers. The new brewery was ready to use in 1928 and started making Nathan Bitter. Nathan Bitter now called Southwark Bitter is still made by ‘Lion Nathan Pty Ltd’ (Southwark Brewery Branch).
The ‘Walkerville Co-Operative Brewing Company Limited’ was purchased in 1938 by the ‘South Australian Brewing Company Limited’ and the name changed to ‘The Nathan Brewery’.
B-5839 State Library