In 2012, Burnett Lane in the heart of Brisbanes CBD is Brisbane’s newest and exciting "laneway" development, but it was also the site of our original "Stewarts" store!
Our store, opened by my Grandfather (over 100 years ago!) is noted as part of the history of Burnett Lane on a historical sign sign recently erected in the laneway.(Photo of the historical sign)
One Hundred Years Ago...
In 1905, my Grandfather, Charles Jackson Stewart and his partner Edward John (Ted) Carroll, took up the lease of the Albion Hotel in Brisbane and they went into business together as Retail Liquor Merchants.
They organised home delivery of liquor orders , first, by horse and cart (photo of the horse) and later by motorized vans, unmarked with signage for customer discretion expected in those days.
In 1909, they took over the lease of the Criterion Hotel in George Street, Brisbane and, soon after, opened the Retail Liquor Store in Burnett Lane adjacent to the Hotel.
This retail liquor shop, designed by Charles Stewart, was named "Stewarts Home Supply".
(Photo of the SHS sign from the original store)
It was the first outlet of its kind in Queensland and allowed female customers a safe environment to shop for wine, beer and liquor without having to enter a hotel bar. The idea was later replicated all over Queensland.
In 1922, Stewart and Carroll decided to separate their interests, but continued to associate and take a vital interest in each others businesses.
My Grandfather bought the freehold of the Criterion Hotel in George Street, Brisbane and, following the rebuilding of the Hotel, commenced a long and renowned association with the Hotel which was famous for its hospitality and lodgings, serving as host for frequent and regular visitors to Brisbane including stars of stage and screen, sporting heroes, politicians and other luminaries of the day.
Birch, Carroll and Coyle
Ted Carroll founded the business Birch, Carroll and Coyle, which promoted early silent and talking pictures and live entertainment acts in venues around Queensland. The company grew into a strong locally listed company, developing the "Wintergarden" cinemas in Brisbane and regional Qld cities and having interests in cinemas throughout Australia.
Charles Stewart was an original shareholder of Birch Carroll and Coyle Ltd. and my Father, Sir Edward Stewart and my brother, Charles James ("Jim") Stewart were directors of the company until its takeover by Amalgamated Holdings Limited in 1993.
Stewarts Home Supply
The "Stewarts Home Supply" shop in Burnett Lane was very popular, so much so that when the hotel was rebuilt in 1922, a second shop was designed which opened on the hotel frontage to Adelaide Street with rear access directly into the hotel cellar.
Much later, in the 1960’s, a third outlet on the George Street frontage of the hotel was opened and all three "Stewarts Home Supply" stores traded successfully there until the hotel closed for redevelopment in 1975, after which the principal Stewarts Home Supply store and delivery service remained at the Albion Hotel in Brisbane.
Stewarts Home Supply became the largest and most successful home delivery of liquor business in Brisbane and there were many imitators.
My Grandftather and my Father, Sir Edward Stewart and my Aunt, Miss Mary Stewart MBE, who took over the business from their Father, Charles Stewart, in 1949, continued to strive to offer more and better service to their customers with innovative ideas and services. These ideas included installing a bond store and a bottling plant in the basement of the Criterion Hotel that allowed us to buy wine and liquor in bulk and bottle it under government supervision on the premises.
(Photo of the Bond Store)
Stewarts purchased wines and brandy from Yalumba (S.Smith &Sons), Penfolds and other well known wineries, and bottled wines and spirits such as "Stewarts Sweet Sherry" and Bundaberg Rum (as "Stewarts Bundaberg Rum") and Whyte & Mackay Scotch Whisky ( for which Stewarts held the sole Australian distribution rights from the Scottish manufacturer and which was bottled as "Stewarts Scotch Whisky").
(Facsimiles of the historic wine and spirit labels)
Stewarts most popular house brand was "Empire Brandy" which Stewarts were able to brand as such with an exemption from the Federal Government from the prohibition on the use of names of national importance (including "Empire" and "Anzac").The use of the white cross on red background predated the Red Cross (red cross on white background) but Charles Stewart agreed to discontinue his right to use it in deference to the Red Cross, when requested.
The colonial shop on Sandgate Road at Albion, which served as the "Stewarts Home Supply" store in the 1960’s to the 1980’s featured a well known stained glass sign "Stewarts Home Supply" and the words "Ales, Wines and Spirits Since 1905" celebrating the birth of the Stewart and Carroll business there more than 80 years earlier. The outlet is no longer associated with Stewarts and the original brass sign is retained by the Stewart family along with a large collection of wine and liquor memorabilia (displayed in our current retail wine stores and on this website!)
(Photo of the Sandgate Road store)
Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, long before the current levels of consumer interest in wine, the Stewarts Home Supply store at Albion was a "mecca" for lovers of good wine and was arguably the only outlet in Queensland with a significant range of fine Australian and imported wines during that period.
Some prominent Queensland wine writers can relate their early experiences of finding varieties of wines in that shop during that time when they could not be found elsewhere.
After the takeover of Castlemaine Tooheys by Bond Corporation in 1985, Stewarts left the Albion Hotel, but continued to offer wine retail in their outlets and home delivery in Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast.
The Eighties, The Nineties and The Noughties
After expansion of the family group to include several hotels on the Sunshine Coast through the 1980’s and 1990’s,
(The Alexandra Hotel, The Coolum Beach Hotel, The Kawana Waters Hotel and the Curramundi Hotel),
our wine retail business continued to be active in Brisbane with the development of the Forest Lake Tavern, Stewarts at Corinda, Vino’s at Eagle Street Pier and Vino’s Cellars at Boundary Street, West End and a "Stewarts Home Supply" store on Racecourse Road, Ascot.
Most recently, we have opened "Stewarts Wine Co" stores at:-
- Portside Wharf complex at Hamilton in 2006 (the Cruise Ship Terminal and Retail, Cinema and Dining Village on the Brisbane RIver at Hamilton) and at
- The Barracks centre at Petrie Terrace near the Brisbane CBD in 2008 (A heritage listed retail, cinema and dining complex adjacent to Caxton Street and The Suncorp Stadium)
With the launch of a new website celebrating all things wine in 2012, Stewarts Wine Co have entered the online retail wine and liquor space and are able to offer delivery of wines to your door backed by over a century of providing wine , spirits and beers with service!
I am managing the Stewarts Wine Co business and we are proud to be Queensland owned and managed.
Unlike so many supermarket chain stores selling liquor in Brisbane today, our business is not run by remote control from a head office in Melbourne or Perth.
You can talk to us and find out about wines spirits and beers, meeting the owners of the business who live right here in Brisbane and work in the stores !
( I'm sorry to break the news , but you can't meet Dan Murphy (although I did many years ago!) - Dan passed on many years ago and that is Woolworths supermarkets using his name and his very old newsletter quotes!)
I live locally to both of our stores and I look forward to meeting you at our Portside Wharf, Hamilton and The Barracks, Petrie Terrace stores, where you will find Stewarts people who know their products and can talk to you about the wines, spirits and beers that they can recommend for you!
We are creating jobs in your local community - I urge you to support your local businesses!
Director , Stewarts Wine Co, October 2012.