• Loddon Herald

Churches and a brewery



INGENUITY and an eye for opportunity have long been hallmarks of the Loddon.

We have earlier touched on the craftsmanship of agricultural implement pioneers in the region.

They worked hard and probably worked up a thirst, too, and this is where James Hedley enters Loddon pioneering folklore.

Hedley was employed by James Steward, Albion Brewery, Eaglehawk, as a traveller for a number of years before he formed a partnership with his brother William, during 1872, in readiness to establish the Bridgewater Brewery, trading as Hedley Bros.

The Marong correspondent to the Bendigo Advertiser, whilst en route to Bridgewater, reported on August 25, 1874, that the road between Yorkshire hotel (Marong) and Mrs Wuest’s Half-way House hotel at Leichardt, was such a “slough of despond” as the “glue pot” would puzzle the understanding of Macadam.

He wondered how the Cobb & Co drivers and others managed to force their way through.

On reaching Bridgewater he visited the new bluestone brewery that was in the course of construction.

During November 1879 this small nwspaper report on Bridgewater des-cribed a nice little town on the Loddon, with the usual proportion of churches (say two), hotels (say nine), shops and stores (say 20).

The town has a police station and railway station, a brewery, soda-water manufactory, two mills (one steam and one water), and also a branch of the National Bank, the report concluded.

Hedley Bros, exhibited a sample of their ale at the North Western Agricultural Show held at Inglewood in October 1878, likewise, a barrel of Colonial ale and Colonial porter in October 1884, a barrel of Colonial ale in 1885 and 1886, and ales in October 1887.

This brewery also won a gold locket at the Bendigo Agricultural and Horticultural Show held in May 1877.

A prospectus was released by the Sandhurst Brewing and Malting Company (Limited) in July 1888 which proposed to incorporate the Hedley Bros Bridgewater Brewery with Wm Bruce & Sons, Graham, Johnson & Illingworth, the late Jonathan Wharton and Charles Hoffmeyer (all Sandhurst businesses) however this failed.

It was also in the same month that James Hedley Esq. JP of Bridgewater and Kerang was recorded as a provisional director in the purchase of the businesses of Messrs. C. Yeo and Son and Taverner and Buscombe of Kerang.

Although Hedley Bros brewers, were about to retire, they were offering hotels for sale in the best country towns in 1889 and they still called tenders for the erection of a new Railway Hotel in Inglewood during September 1890.

In the meantime the Hedley brothers sold their brewery to George Elliott and Phillip Holler on April 16, 1890.

Elliott and Holler had originally formed a partnership, around August 1880, they trading as the Riverine Brewing Co. Ltd at Deniliquin.

This business was later floated as a company in December 1883, it then trading as The Riverine Brewery, Aerated Waters & MIlling Co. Ltd.

As Margaret Holler, wife of Phillip Holler, died in January 1885 the business was sold the partnership next purchasing the Standard Brewery, Main Street, Campbells Creek which they in turn sold in readiness to purchase the Bridgewater Brewery on April 16, 1890.

This partnership was soon dissolved - May 31, 1890 hence P Holler & Co. continued brewing and manufacturing aerated waters.

The following news report appeared in the Bendigo Advertiser on January 24, 1893: We understand that a company has been formed to erect a new brewery and cordial manufactory at Bridgewater.

The report continued that the lease of the brewery known as Holler’s and owned by Mr J. Hedley expires in about three months, and the company referred to has been formed in readiness to supply customers with a good article at the lowest possible price. A new plant will be erected in a central position, and every care will be taken to provide ales, aerated waters, etc.

It would appear that the new brewery was never built.

Although Holler had advertised for a partner in April 1893 he must not have been successful as the contents and brewery plant were offered for auction on May 29, 1893, the brewery in Steam Mill Lane being purchased by Cohn Brothers, Bendigo.

It would appear that Holler & Co. may have continued to manufacture aerated waters as he was still listed in business at the turn of the century.

As Cohn Brothers had an extensive brewery in Bridge street, Bendigo it is doubtful if the Bridgewater Brewery continued to brew.

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