The Sketchbook has told me something I really wanted to know: what this beautiful and seemingly taken-for-granted building with its French-inspired roof was: the Yorkshire Brewery, cleverly captured in this image by Ronny Restrepo. According to Walking Melbourne, it was designed by James Wood son of Yorkeshireman Thomas Wood who founded it, and built in 1880, and was for 10 years Australia’s tallest building. Today, it’s in a state of disrepair (for a photo of it in 1974, see here). Brian McKinlay wrote:
“Brewing and Collingwood have a long association. …
Melbourne’s first brewery was opened in 1838 by a young pioneer publican named Moss at the back of the Ship Inn in Flinders Street. Earlier pioneer breweries tended to be linked wth one or several local pubs or inns, and there seem to have been almost as many small breweries in early Melbourne as there were pubs. By 1856 it was estimated that there were thirty-five breweries in Victoria and by 1871 the number had grown to 126.
Sometimes the backyard brewer was tempted to dilute his product, and he added substances in order to give the beer the correct bitter taste much prized by brewers and drinkers alike. Sometimes their search for a bittter aftertaste led brewers to introduce ingredients like Epsom salts, arsenic, or even sulphuric acid. In such cases the result was disastrous for the drinker, who paid for his pleasure in more ways than one.
Gradually Melbourne’s brewing passed into the hands of a number of larger breweries on whose product the public could rely. Several of these were located in Collingowood. A Yorkshireman, Thomas Wood, had established a chain of breweries in the area and by 1864 he had become Collingwood’s major brewer. In 1877, with his sons as partners, he established a brewery in Wellington Street which was noted for its six-storey tower complete with hydraulic lift and a groud-level stable to accommodate twenty-six brewery horses.”
And, according to Walking Melbourne:
“The former Yorkshire brewery is a stunning landmark consisting of a huge romanesque and second empire combination tower that features polychrome brickwork. Surprisingly, the Yorkshire was the tallest building in Australia for 10 years until it was superceeded by the 10 storey Finks building in 1888. The Yorkshire is currently being converted into apartments, although several speculative developers have left the site scarred, with the original stables now demolished. The Yorkshire brewery building is now heritage registered and controls are in place to preserve it.”