EDWARD LATHAM OF GATEACRE circa 1860 and AUSTRALIA 1863-1905
by Peter Gardner

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1. Edward Latham in Australia

Edward Latham and his older brother Thomas, formerly of Belle Vale Farm, Gateacre, arrived in Melbourne aboard the Solway on 30 January 1863. Thomas died the following day. From these inauspicious beginnings in the new colony of Victoria Edward Latham went on to become the founder of the now giant Carlton & United Breweries, to become one of the colony's richest men, to indulge in an extravagant program of building mansions and other construction projects and to undergo a secret bankruptcy following the failure of the Melbourne land boom of the 1880s.

Little is known of Latham's activities over the next two years except that he appears to have had ample funds and travelled as a gentleman through Victoria and Tasmania. In this time he established some connections with the Victorian seaside village of Queenscliff and may have purchased some property there. On 1 February 1865 Latham married Bertha Ashton, a widow in Hobart. She was 12 years his senior and presumably of some wealth, coming from the Tasmanian upper class. Soon the married couple were back in Melbourne where in the same year, and in partnership with G. Milne, Latham bought the Carlton Brewery.

From this time Latham's business expanded and grew so rapidly that he was already a wealthy man by 1870 and he embarked on an ambitious building program constructing large and permanent bluestone stables and warehouses for the brewery. Latham's last major building projects were the mansion Lathamstowe
built for the use of Church of England clergy in Queenscliff in 1883 and Knowsley - later Raheen - built in Studley Park Road Kew in 1884. He also appears to have had a strong interest in Baillieu House (later the Ozone Hotel) built next door to Lathamstowe at the same time.

During the 1880s Latham and family indulged in the ostentatious display of their wealth at balls parties and overseas trips and lived in the mansion Knowsley nearby to the original Raheen. With his son-in-law, and years later his brother-in-law, William Lawrence Baillieu, Latham speculated in land and other forms of investment on a large scale. The collapse of the boom made Latham and Baillieu both bankrupt and in 1892 they went through a secret form of bankruptcy known as 'Composition by Arrangement'. Latham's deficiency was £32,795. By the end of the year Latham & Baillieu had bought the Southern or Richmond Brewery and were back in business.

However the bankruptcy was followed by the death of his wife and son in 1894. Remarried the following year Latham lived quietly in Melbourne's eastern suburbs at a number of locations. His brewery was taken over by Carlton in 1900 and following his death in 1905 the main asset of his estate was 14,472 part paid Carlton Brewery shares. Three years later Carlton amalgamated with other Melbourne breweries and Carlton & United Breweries, with its famous 'Fosters Lager' brand, was established.


Continued . . .

* The author, P.D. Gardner, is a regional historian residing in Gippsland Australia and studying the coal capital of that district and the associated land boom in Melbourne in 1880s. He is especially interested in Latham's early career in Liverpool and Gateacre and hopes to establish with some certainty how Latham funded his voyage to Australia and his early years of residence there.
He can be contacted by email


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Page created 18 June 2007 by MRC, last updated 9 Jul 2013