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Castlemaine Brewery

The Castlemaine Brewery (not a hotel) was operated at Riverside Road, Richmond (now East Fremantle) 1896-1963, first by Howard Norman Sleigh, then from 1901 by Gracie and Walkley, and then by the Swan Brewery from 1927.


Photo from SLWA #006700P, c1902-4. The sign on the building in the centre says that it is the Castlemaine Brewery, while the sign on the building on the left identifies that as Phoenix Brewery. In the photos below the latter is called the Castlemaine Brewery, presumably because it had by then been acquired by Gracie and Walkley (see below). This first photo must therefore be no later than 1904, while those below are later are from 1906 or later. SLWA's text points out that 'Smoke comes from the Phoenix Brewery indicating it is still working. This Brewery worked between 1902-1904.' The photograph, from the Passey Collection, is well reproduced in John Dowson, Old Fremantle: 57. The original Castlemaine Brewery, in the centre of the photo, later became the bottling works, and was demolished in 1985.

castlemaine brewery

This undated photo (Fremantle Library #2046A) shows the 1902 Phoenix Brewery - as it was originally called - at a date after 1906 when it was acquired by Gracie and Walkley, who also owned the original 1896 Castlemaine Brewery, to the west of this building. After the 1906 purchase the building in the photograph was known as the the Castlemaine Brewery - as the signs say. The original Castlemaine Brewery was opened in 1896 by Howard Norman Sleigh at Riverside Road in East Fremantle, Western Australia. The Library's text: ' The Castlemaine Brewery was one of a chain of Castlemaine breweries through Australia. It had extensive cellars and brewed ale and stout. Demolition of the buildings began in 1963.'

The Castlemaine Brewery was established in 1896 by Howard Norman Sleigh, with John Hugh Gracie (1855-1927) as head brewer. Gracie, who was born in Tasmania, was the chief brewer at Cascade Brewery prior to moving to Western Australia. In 1901 the Castlemaine Brewery was purchased by Gracie and Walter Frederick Walkley (1872-1936). In 1906 they purchased the nearby Phoenix Brewery. In 1910 Walkley returned to South Australia. In 1912 Gracie, the managing director of Castlemaine, retired. Castlemaine acquired a number of local hotels, including the Commercial and Beaconsfield Hotels in 1920, the Oddfellows Hotel in 1922, and the Richmond Hotel in 1925. In 1927 the Castlemaine Brewery Co. was purchased by the Swan Brewery for £29,065 and 32,500 Swan Brewery shares. Swan subsequently closed the brewery, employing the majority of the workforce at the Perth operations. The former brewery building was demolished to make way for the construction of the Stirling Traffic Bridge, linking Fremantle to North Fremantle. Beers: Castlemaine Bitter Ale, Penguin Pale Ale, Invalid Stout. Thanks to Wikipedia for all of the above par.


The Castlemaine Brewery, with the Richmond Hotel just up the hill to the right. The rocky outcrop on the left still adjoins the carpark of what is now the Left Bank. Source and date unknown. The Stirling Bridge is now where the brewery stood.


View from Plympton Hotel (W.A. Fearn Proprietor) the Castlemaine Brewery with large smokestack is in the foreground (operated from c1898 [1896] - 1963) Fremantle Library photo #EF0017.

The Boatbuilder's House, now the Left Bank, is in the background. The Plympton Hotel has become the Tradewinds Hotel.

The Castlemaine Brewery can just be discerned on the southern bank of the Swan River almost exactly in the middle of the photograph. The Bruce Town Hotel aka Gresham Hotel is on the photo's extreme right on this (northern) side of the River.

On the East Fremantle bank of the Swan are 15 Riverside Road, directly beyond the eastern edge of Gilbert Fraser Oval; and, to the right, the Castlemaine Brewery and Hubble and East Streets. At the right, near the West edge of the Oval is the Gresham Hotel. Corkhill Street runs across the picture in the foreground. This was a postcard published by P Falk & Co. and is photograph #2110 from the Fremantle Library, c. 1910; photograph by P. Falk. Text from the Library entry.


This photo of the Brewery includes Carroll's house-—the 'Boatbuilder's House'—which is now the Left Bank—at the left of the frame. It is Fremantle Library image no. LH004686, no date, but after 1906. The tower of Knocknagow, Preston Point Road, may be seen on the top of the hill to the left.

References and links

Dowson, John 2003, Old Fremantle, UWAP.

Lee, Jack 1979, This is East Fremantle (The story of a town and its people), East Fremantle Town Council.

The Castlemaine Beer plaque is the property of Brian Snell, who kindly sent the photo. The existing Castlemaine Brewery in Victoria says it came from WA. It was found in the basement of the Shamrock Hotel at Boulder when it was demolished in 1972. The words around the outside run: "This food contains not more than [indistinguishable] of a grain of salicyclic acid to the pint." The two holes, when found, had in them in two copper nails, as the plaque was nailed to a barrel.

Garry Gillard | New: 6 July, 2015 | Now: 10 August, 2022