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Edmund Resch (1847–1923)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Emil Karl Resch

Edmund Resch (1847-1923) and Emil Karl Resch (1860-1930), brewers, were the sons of Johann Nicolaus Resch, ironmaster, and his wife Julia Bernhardine Louise Wilhelmine, née Heitmann, both of Saxony. Edmund was born on 9 June 1847 at Hörde, Westphalia, and arrived in Australia in 1863. In 1871, after mining in Victoria, he moved to New South Wales where he and his mate were the first to strike copper at the Cobar South mine. After prospecting for a year between Cobar, Louth, Bourke and Gilgandra he went to Charters Towers, Queensland, where he built, then operated a hotel for four years. He sold out because of ill health and about 1877 bought with a younger brother Richard Frederick Edward Nicolas (1851-1912) a cordial and aerated water factory at Wilcannia, New South Wales. Next year he visited Germany, where at Munich, on 17 October 1878, he married Carolina Rach (1855-1927).

Business flourished, for Wilcannia was a busy river port and centre of a vast pastoral district. In September 1879 Edmund and Richard opened the Lion Brewery and in 1883 purchased a brewery at Cootamundra, renaming it the Lion Brewery; by 1885 they had branches at Silverton, west of Broken Hill, and Tibooburra on the Mount Browne goldfield. On 11 August 1885, however, the partnership was dissolved by mutual consent, Richard carrying on at Cootamundra and Tibooburra and Edmund at Wilcannia, where he built up an enviable reputation as a skilful brewer.

In 1892 Edmund Resch installed a manager and retired to live in Melbourne. In 1895, however, he moved to Sydney to manage Allt's Brewing & Wine and Spirit Co. Ltd for a banker who had assisted him in his early business career. In 1897 he purchased the brewery for about £67,000 and in 1900 also acquired the business and plant of the New South Wales Lager Bier Brewing Co. Ltd. Assisted by John Herbert Alvarez (d.1913), his able accountant and manager, and his sons Edmund (1879-1963) and Arnold Gottfried (1881-1942), who had both studied modern brewing methods in Europe and the United States of America, Resch embarked on a large building programme, centralizing his combined interests in Dowling Street, Redfern. In July 1906 Resch's Ltd was incorporated with an authorized capital of £150,000.

Resch's second business career was even more successful than his first. In 1901 he told a Legislative Assembly select committee on tied houses, where he was reprimanded by the chairman Richard Meagher for answering 'in an acrimonious way', that he was the only brewer in New South Wales who did not use 'salicylic acid and other antiseptics' in his beer, and, not surprisingly, that he was against tied houses. He successfully advertised in 1904-14 as 'brewer by appointment to His Excellency the Governor-General': his ales, beers and stout captured much of the State's market. From 1903 to October 1913 he was consul in Sydney for the Netherlands government and on his retirement he was appointed knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau. Wealthy, but uncultivated, he lived in great style at Swifts, a Gothic mansion on Darling Point built by (Sir) Robert Lucas-Tooth; sailing on Sydney Harbour was his chief recreation. During World War I Resch contributed generously to the war effort and made up the difference in pay for about sixty employees who had enlisted, but in November 1917, following an indiscretion, he was arrested and interned in Holsworthy camp.

Edmund Resch died at Swifts on 22 May 1923, survived by his wife and sons, and was buried in the Anglican section of Waverley cemetery. Probate of his estate was sworn at £316,828. In 1929 Resch's Waverley Brewery was taken over by Tooth & Co. Ltd in exchange for shares issued to the Resch family.

Emil was born on 15 February 1860 at Aalen, Württemberg, and after serving his apprenticeship in the brewing and malting trade arrived in Australia on 28 September 1882. After a short time in Melbourne he joined his brothers at Wilcannia, and in 1885 took over their Lion Brewery on Umberumberka Creek, Silverton. In 1888, when the brewery had an annual output of over 90,000 gallons (409,148 L), he opened a cordial factory in Argent Lane, Broken Hill. He became an original trustee of the German Club at Broken Hill in 1892 and next year returned to Germany where at Aalen he married Emma Schwartz (d.1945) on 15 August.

Retaining his brewing interests at Broken Hill, in 1898 Resch went to Melbourne and became general manager of Melbourne Brewery and Distillery Ltd (Victoria Brewery). He was naturalized in December 1899. In 1905 Emil, William Baillieu and Carl Pinschof, representing the Victoria and Carlton breweries, began discussions with Nicholas Fitzgerald, Montague Cohen and others which led to the formation of Carlton & United Breweries Pty Ltd on 8 May 1907. Emil, who with Baillieu had bought the Victoria Brewery and incorporated it in the merger in exchange for shares in the new company, was general manager of Carlton and United in 1907-14.

Emil Resch died on 17 April 1930 at his Kew home, survived by his wife, one of his two sons, Carl, and five daughters. He was buried in the Presbyterian section of Boroondara cemetery. Probate of his estate was sworn at £30,254.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Smith (ed), Cyclopedia of Victoria, vol 1 (Melb, 1903)
  • Cyclopedia of N.S.W. (Syd, 1907)
  • R. H. B. Kearns, Silverton (Broken Hill, NSW, 1972)
  • R. H. B. Kearns, Broken Hill, 1883-1893 (Broken Hill, 1973)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1899, 4, p 38, 1901, 6, p 62
  • Australasian Insurance and Banking Record, 20 Apr 1906
  • Wilcannia Times, 30 Jan, 11 Sept 1879
  • Town and Country Journal, 14 Feb 1885, 29 May 1912
  • Bulletin, 15 Sept 1904, 31 May 1923
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 26, 28 Nov 1917, 25 May 1923, 21 Dec 1927
  • Australian Worker, 29 Nov 1917
  • Australasian (Melbourne), 19 Apr, 31 May 1930.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Resch, Edmund (1847–1923)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 20 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


9 June, 1847
Hörde, Westphalia, Germany


22 May, 1923 (aged 75)
Darling Point, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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