History of West Australia/Thomas Wall Hardwick


Thomas Wall Hardwick HOFWA.jpg
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Greenham & Evans.

JOHN Bull and John Barleycorn are inseparable friends, the ale and roast beef of England being held in national repute from time immemorial. The Britisher is the greatest beer-drinker in the world; for the thin and insipid lager of Germany is only a mockery of the generous full-flavoured brew of Bass, Guinness, or the competitors who produce liquor quite as good as that of those old-established houses. To judge from the ascendancy of England it would appear to be possible to trace some affinity between malt and muscle, in spite of the jeremiads of the total abstinence party, so long as the brewer is a master of his art and plays no tricks by putting a chemical infusion into his vat. But after all it is not easy to cheat the critical palate of the public, which among the lieges of Her Majesty may be said to have an inherited, rather than an acquired, acumen in discerning and doing honour to the scientific expert who lives to pleasingly assuage the thirst of his fellow men. One is almost as much to be pitied if he cannot get the favourable award of the public as the slave of the Eastern potentate whose head was taken off if he failed to amuse his master; for a second-rate brewer is not to be endured, while a popular one grows rich and lives in the lap of luxury. Of this the life of Mr. T. W. Hardwick affords striking proof.

Thomas Wall Hardwick is a native of Somersetshire, where his family has held the ancestral property of "Barrowcourt" for more than 300 years. It was in the picturesque farmhouse on this estate that the subject of our notice first saw the light in 1834. After his schooling was over he followed agricultural pursuits until he was twenty-eight years of age, when he went into the great house of Messrs. Flower and Son, Stratford-on-Avon, to learn the brewing business, and was the founder of the Ashton Gate Brewing Company, which is now regarded as one of the leading firms in the trade. Mr. Hardwick was manager of the Ashton Gate Company for twenty years, during which he built up its fortunes on a strong foundation. It was in 1885 that he was induced to accept an appointment in the Castlemaine Brewery in Victoria, a position which he resigned in order to control the establishments of Messrs. Lindsay and Co., at Bourke and Orange, New South Wales. His fame preceded him to Western Australia, where the Swan Brewery was getting into low water for want of more skilful direction than was at that time available in this colony, and judging Mr. Hardwick by the highly satisfactory results which he had attained in connection with all his previous ventures, the directors were willing to make very liberal terms to seduce him from his allegiance to Messrs. Lindsay and Co. The potent power of gold was irresistible, and Mr. Hardwick was soon installed at the head of the operations of the Swan Brewery, which from the day he entered upon the management has been better than most gold mines to the shareholders, while the Bourke and Orange Breweries were relegated respectively to the charge of his sons, Messrs. Thomas James and Philip Bower Hardwick. The new brew of the Perth Company was first sampled by its patrons at the beginning of the year 1891, and the effect of it was an immediate and great expansion of business. The turnover when Mr. Hardwick was inducted into his new post was £500 per month; to-day it amounts, according to the season of the year, to from £6,000 to £8,000 per month, which is the best testimonial that can be given in a work like this of the new manager's ability. He has raised the value of the shares from 3s. to £2, and so increased his work that he was glad to avail himself of the services of his son, Mr. Philip Bower Hardwick, as assistant manager, an appointment which that gentleman still retains.

The Swan Brewery, as may be expected from the enormous development of its work, makes an exacting call upon the time and energies of its manager, but Mr. Hardwick has nevertheless been able to become identified with other fields of activity, and in the ancient institution of Freemasonry he has set his name deeply and honourably upon the roll of the officers of the guild. He is president of the Board of General Purposes of the Grand Lodge of Western Australia; in England he held the rank of Past Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, and in New South Wales he also took high office. At Bourke he went through the chairs of Lodge No. 18, N.S.W. Constitution. As a sportsman, to show the interest that he takes in racing, it is only necessary to mention that Mr. Hardwick is a member of the committee of Tattersall's Club. He lends his support to the pastoral and agricultural interests, believing that upon their strength and prosperity the welfare of the colony largely depends. The Royal Pastoral and Agricultural Society has placed him on its committee, in which capacity his business experience is found to be of much value. He is deputy-chairman of the Swan River Shipping Coy., Limited.

Mr. Hardwick is the father of a large family of ten children, seven of whom are boys. Four of his sons are in England receiving the highest educational advantages which the old country and its classic seminaries of learning can provide, while his son, James, who is mentioned in an earlier portion of this sketch as having in 1891 taken charge of Messrs. Lindsay and Co.'s Orange Brewery, is now the manager of the South Australian Brewing Company's Works at Broken Hill.

The world has gone well with Mr. Hardwick because he is a specialist who is above the competition of the host of half-taught men who overcrowd every profession, but who are hopelessly out of the contest when first-class work has to be done. He has found, to use an American expression, that there is plenty of room in the upper stories. All his life his employers have had to seek his services; he has never had to look for an appointment or an increase of salary; they have always been spontaneously presented as a tribute of gratitude for the payment of liberal dividends out of businesses which had languished in other hands. If, as we are told by one philosopher, success in life is the most satisfying and enduring reward of toil, Mr. Hardwick has tasted of this nectar from his boyhood.