Apr 25, 2014

Barclay Perkins in Australia 1821-1840

This time I've got a story about a couple of guys visiting Parramatta from Sydney in 1827 and some details about the availability of Barclay Perkins in Sydney, Hobart and Launceston.

First, the story. A couple of mates set out on horseback for a daytrip from Sydney to Parramatta. I'm not sure why it was worth including in the newspaper but for history's sake I'm glad they did. The part that's relevant to this blog is in the bar at their destination:

A little after 2 p. m. I found myself with my friend
Oddfish in a snug parlour at Walker's Hotel, admiring
the excellence and enjoying the luxury of a glass of
Barclay and Perkins'-ordered corn for the horses
-at 3 p. m. dinner on table-- roast beef, pigeon pye,  
custard, and good madeira. No disagreeable matters
to discuss by two cockneys after a journey of 15 or 16

The story is relatively long and not very well told but that reference to the 'luxury of a glass of Barclay and Perkins' is interesting. I've reproduced the whole thing at the end of the post for those who are interested and don't begrudge the extra reading.

The particular beer isn't identified. It's likely to have been the Porter although it could also have been the double brown stout that is referenced a number of times in newspapers. I really like the image of these cockney blokes having the chance to sit down after their journey with a beer from home. The luxury might refer to the taste of home but it's likely a comment on the rarity and cost of drinking a London Porter in the colony. There's a sequence following the above quote where they have to find someone to lend them money so they could pay for their beer and meal which suggests it cost them a bit more than they were expecting.

The early colonial newspapers are really useful sources of information. Aside from the occasional narrative like that one, the classifieds list the availability of just about anything that was imported. The first reference I can find to Barclay Perkins in Australia is in the snippet below, in 1821 Sydney. It's certainly possible that Barclay Perkins was available in the 20 years prior to this but at least we know for certain that it was sporadically available in the 1820s.

The Sydney Gazette & NSW Advertiser, December 1, 1821

Looking through the records it seems that ships arrived in November 1821, December 1823, August 1825, April 1828 and then a bit more regularly between 1829 and the 1830s. Mostly the ads are for their double brown stout and porter but in 1832 we get mention of their East India ale and in 1834 their pale ale, and in 1836, their export stout, 1837 their strong ale and 1839 their super strong ale.

The Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, October 30, 1832

The first reference to Barclay Perkins in Hobart is from 1822. There are occasional references to brown stout in advertising prior to that which could be BP in disguise. There's more in 1823 (superior brown stout) and 1828 but like Sydney, the supply wasn't very regular. The fire that destroyed the London Brewery did get a mention in The Hobart Town Courier in 1832.

Imperial Double Stout Porter?!! Barclay & Perkins know
how to sell beer to beer geeks in 2014. Hobart Town 
Gazette and Van Dieman's Land Enquirer,
December 21, 1822

One of the suspicious brown stouts I was referring to.
Hobart Town Gazette and Southern Reporter,
August 21, 1820

Weirdly, I can't find any references to Barclay Perkins being available in Launceston until 1849. I'm not sure why it should be any different to the other colonial outposts of Hobart and Sydney. It's not hard to find references to Taylor's double brown stout in the 1820s and Truman's in the 1830s among others but no Barclay Perkins. Why was that?

Full reproduction of AN EXCURSION TO PARRAMATTA after the jump:

Sydney, August 1827.
We hear and read of rides to Bathurst, trips to Hun-
ter's River, and journeys the **** knows where; now,
if you think the following narration (if I may so term it)
of a trip to Parramatta and home again by two Cock-
neys, worth insertion, why I shall be happy to see it in
print; but if you look upon it as nonsense, why put it in
the fire.
Some months since, one morning at 7 A. M. turned
out of bed and took a walk in my slippers to see my
friend Oddfish--agreed to hire a nag each and ride to
Parramatta-breakfasted; at 9 P. M. made preparations
for starting-borrowed D-'s spurs and C-'s cane.  
Found much difficulty in procuring horses; however,
at past 12 p. m. nags or nackers (which you please to
call them) all ready-mounted immediately and started,
humming a favourite air, called " Go along, go along
Bob," &c.
With considerable self satisfaction I found I was tole-
rably well mounted; not so with poor Oddfish, for he
had the good fortune to procure the veriest hack in Syd
ney-easy paces, assisted by heel tormentors,; brought
us to a hut about 6 miles from Parramatta-gave the
nags a little water and suck'd an orange.
Horses rather fresh after their draught, and riders ex
periencing sundry curious longings after something like
Roast Beef-movements quickened-a tight rein down
the hill and away we go--Parramatta in view! hail!
lovely village !--I hope we shall not be disapinted of a
good dinner, (says Oddfish) in reply to my heartfelt ejacu-
lation--Walkcr's Hotel in sight--easy riding-eyes
right-shoulders square-legs straight-toes pointed-
and then Oddfish you'll astonish the natives.  
A little after 2 p. m. I found myself with my friend
Oddfish in a snug parlour at Walker's Hotel, admiring
the excellence and enjoying the luxury of a glass of
Barclay and Perkins'-ordered corn for the horses
-at 3 p. m. dinner on table-- roast beef, pigeon pye,  
custard, and good madeira. No disagreeable matters
to discuss by two cockneys after a journey of 15 or 16
After dinner, upon taking a survey of our pockets, we
could not muster sufficient to pay for the use of Mrs.
Walker's knives and forks-however, knowing where I
could borrow a few dollars we sallied out on that pur-
suit, and very soon, had the pleasure of pocketing some
Returned to Walker's-bad news gentlemen, says a
smart active waiter-like looking young man--something
wrong in the stables gentlemen with long faces, we
made our way to the scene of action, and there found
poor Oddfish's horse in a sleepy condition---all the ar-
guments the ostler could use were not sufficient to induce
this Rozinante to rise and eat his corn as every civil
and well behaved horse should do-nay, even the handle
of the dung fork was scarcely sufficient to enforce com-
pliance, notwithstanding sundry kicks were bestowed
upon this jade by way of assistance to the said fork
the poor beast cast a pitiful look at his greasy heels and
made another attempt to rise, which fortunately suc-
Put on the saddle, says Oldfish, and I'll take the
stiffness out of his legs-the rain came down in tor-
rents, nevertheless we paid our shot and mounted-
Oddfish's hack made a movement something between a
walk and a stand-still-I say Oddfish, button up close,
and look out for a floorer in the mud, I think your nag
will go to prayers shortly (said I)--no, no, says Odd-
fish, I'll not give him time, and without more ado, the
stick and spurs were so well applied, that off went the
jade in earnest, and proved by his paces and sprightli
ness, that his illness was all sham.      
Kept up a good pace for about five miles, and by this
time discovered we were in for a benefit, in the shape
of a soker to the skin-hard riding-wind and rain in
our teeth-how very. comfortable ;--reached Nettle-  
ton's--gave the hunters some water and took some our
selves, tho' somewhat improved by a slight infusion of
Cooper's double distilled, to keep the cold out! and then'  
off again-in a few minutes we were opposite Under
woods-Hostler,! Waiter ! Hostler ! where the devil are
you (said Oddfish)--horses popped under shelter in a
twinkling, and in two minutes we fonnd ourselves in    
really comfortable quarters-a good fire-tea on table  
a noble cold turkey and pickled cauliflower; who would
not think himself at home ? and to increase our comfort
a kind landlady and two or three pretty lasses (Mrs. U's
sisters I believe) after dispatching a tolerable quantity
of tea, turkey, and cauliffower; and a glass of wine, we
prepared to start-I observed Oddfish looking woefully
at one of his boots-what's the matter my dear; fellow ?
(said I) why I have lost one of my spurs says he, and fear,
my hack will be rather dull home, unless I can ply both
heels at once. Borrow an iron skewer from the landlady,
(said I) no no says Oddfish--never mind, l'll tie the spur
to his tail !  
Having paid the possibles, and given a bonus to the ostler
we were off again-we pushed at a hard gallop for some dis-
tance, when my charger took it in his head to turn off the
road-I allowed him to follow his inclination-in a few min-
utes I found myself in the middle of a hut, still upon my
charger's back-men surprised-women and children squal-
ling ; Oddfish followed me close in-I, soon perceived I was in a
grog shop-i. e. a liquor shop sine license-a glass of bran-
dy and water if you please madam 'saidI ; beg pardon, for
intrusion, said Oddfish, I am sorry we've alarmed the children
madam-no offence sir, no offence ! (said the good natured
landlady ;) and brandy and water we had in a pig's whisper-
now we are off again.  
Nags really improved in their movements-turnpike in
view and at 8 p. m. dismounted at Hill's tavern rather tired-
good bye nag and nacker, said Oddfish and off we started on
foot but-
" Where we went I shall not tell ;
" I shall not tell, I shall not tell ;
" But where we went ;
" I shall not tell."
T. S. H.

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