Even at the age of 17, Hamilton Ward was “much too fond for his age of making a good bargain.”
Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise at how confident and independent he was. He had been a 14 year old settler on the Canterbury Association’s first ship, the ‘Charlotte Jane’. Just six months later, his two older brothers and sole caregivers drowned in Lyttelton Harbour collecting firewood for their farm on Quail Island. So Hamilton was forced to grow up very fast.
In 1862, already a great land owner, Hamilton purchased a brewery that had been founded by Archer C. Croft in 1854. Situated on the corner of Kilmore and Fitzgerald Streets, Hamilton wasted no time renaming the business to Ward’s Brewery. Ward’s Beer was a very popular brand – after all, it was made with Canterbury’s finest malt and the world’s purest water from the Southern Alps.
When Hamilton sold the business in 1881, it was the biggest brewery in New Zealand. The new owner – Henry Lee – retained the name and it was still known as such through its move to the corner of Antigua and Tuam Streets in 1955. When Ward’s Beer was succeeded by Canterbury Draught in 1990, the respect for its history was acknowledged when both names appeared on the bottle labels.
After the brewery building was earthquake damaged, it was decided that the Christchurch based brewery would close down for good. After a few months of business slowly winding down in other locations around the city, the brewery dried up in March 2012. The famous black and red icon building was fully demolished early 2013.
This pictured CD beer bottle is a very special as it was purchased by me from the Hurunui Pub – Canterbury’s oldest pub and it was their very last bottle, never to be in supply again. This happened by pure chance!
For a more in depth look at Hamilton Ward, please check out the following link: http://www.peelingbackhistory.co.nz/686/
*Image courtesy of Annette Bulovic*