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Emu Brewery (former), Spring St, Perth, WA, Australia

Photographs None
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Historic
Legal Status Removed from Register or IL
Place ID 18139
Place File No 5/11/020/0141
Statement of Significance
At time of listing:
The Emu brewery site is historically important as the site of the first commercial brewery in Western Australia (WA), established in 1837, only eight years after the establishment of the WA colony. The extant brewery buildings form a tangible link with the continuous use of this site for brewing for almost 150 years (Criterion A.4). The main brewery building is a fine piece of industrial architecture (Criterion F.1). It exhibits the major features of inter-war Functionalist architecture, particularly in the way in which the exterior design of the building: reflects the interior functions; in its simple geometric massing; its flat roofed appearance; the use of plain, light coloured cement surfaces and metal framed windows (Criterion D.2). The finely designed and executed bas relief frieze panels are key elements of the building design, visually linking the building masses. This frieze, depicting various aspects of brewing together with a geometric pattern, reflects the influence of Art Deco style in the design of the building (Criteria F.1 and D.2). The frieze represents a fine example of the architectural work of WA sculptor Edward F Kohler (Criterion H.1).
Buildings demolished, late 1991/early 1992.
Official Values Not Available
Description
The Emu Brewery stands on the site of the first commercial brewery to be established in WA. The site was chosen because of the presence of a fresh spring, essential to the brewing process and a slope (Spring Street) which enabled more efficient functioning of the brewing process. The first brewery was built by J Stokes in 1837 (only eight years after the founding of the WA colony). The site has been used continuously for brewing since that time. In 1887 the brewery was taken over by the Stanley Brewery Company Ltd and in 1908 the name was changed to the Emu Co-operative Brewery, then to the Emu Brewery Ltd. The present brewery was commenced in 1936 and scheduled for completion in 1937 to coincide with the centenary of brewing on the site. It was completed early in 1938. The 1938 brewery building was considered at the time to be one of the important new modern buildings to be erected in the late 1930s in Perth and as a brewery second to none in Australia (Welborn, p159). Made of reinforced concrete and steel the building was undertaken by the local architectural firm of Oldham, Boas and Ednie-Brown following intensive investigations overseas and interstate into all aspects of brewery design. The project was a joint one with architects and engineers from Carlton and United Breweries Ltd, with the imposing facade added by Boas' firm. The building reflected modern industrial practices, with the provision of good working conditions for employees: change, luncheon and rest rooms and an emphasis on brightness and airiness and the provision of natural light. The description of the main brewery building given in the Western Mail 19 January 1939 is still applicable, except that the plant has been removed: '...the main building, facing Mounts Bay Road, forms a group of processing units with the technical and administrative offices forming the prominent front lower section. The central lift and staircase tower, a feature of the Mounts Bay Road face, divides the brewing house from the storage and fermentation units, the former being provided with the maximum of light while, on the latter, daylight is entirely excluded'. This layout results in the blind walls on the right hand side of the building and along Spring Street. However, recessed panels have been incorporated into the design to balance the windows to the left. The central tower serves to delineate the two areas and also provides a central dominant motif to the facade, a stylistic device popular in 1930s architecture. Another feature which was considered modern was the appearance of flat roofs from the front of the building: '...distinguished by its simplicity of line in the vertical style and the absence of over hanging cornices it is an outstanding example of modern design as applied to industrial building' (the Western Mail 19 January 1939). The exterior is also decorated with a band of bas reliefs consisting of geometric patterns and panels depicting various aspects of the brewery process. The panels were designed by John Oldham, who was probably responsible for the overall design of the exterior and modified, possibly, by Margaret Pitt Morison. The sculptor for the panels was Edward F Kohler who worked with a number of major architectural firms in WA in the 1930s. Kohler trained in Europe following World War One. His major works included the King George V memorial in Brisbane (with Perth architect Reginald Summerhayes) and the Talbot Hobbs memorial in Perth. The Emu Brewery site as a whole comprises the main brewery building, sheds, chimney stack and extensive car parks. The brewery was originally sited along the river foreshore, but subsequent draining and land fill for the Perth freeway interchange has resulted in the brewery being located further back from the Swan River. Buildings demolished late 1991/early 1992.
History Not Available
Condition and Integrity
The building has been vacant for a number of years. The brewing equipment has been removed and the place vandalised. However, the overall internal structure is sound and the exterior still presents well. (July 1990)
Buildings demolished, late 1991/early 1992.
Location
Spring Street, corner Mounts Bay Road (98 Mounts Bay Road), Perth.
Bibliography
BOAS, HAROLD. BRICKS AND MORTAR, (AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY). UNPUBLISHED
MANUSCRIPT, BATTYE LIBRARY, 1969.
WELBORN, S. THE HISTORY OF A BREWERY. UNIVERSITY OF WA PRESS, 1987.
TAYLOR, R. "EDWARD F. KOHLER, PERTH SCULPTOR, 1890-1964" IN ESSAYS ON
ART AND ARCHITECTURE IN WA, CENTRE FOR FINE ARTS, UNIVERSITY OF WA,
1988
THE WEST AUSTRALIAN, 22 FEBRUARY 1936, P6
THE WESTERN MAIL, 19 JANUARY 1939, P33
THE WEST AUSTRALIAN, 20 NOVEMBER 1979, P20
INTERVIEW WITH JOHN OLDHAM BY ROBYN TAYLOR, 11 FEBRUARY 1986
APPERLY, R., IRVING, R.& P. REYNOLDS. IDENTIFYING AUSTRALIAN
ARCHITECTURE. A & R, 1990.
MOLYNEUX, I. LOOKING AROUND PERTH. 1981.

Report Produced  Wed Jul 23 11:19:01 2014