McEwans Hardware Stores

For more than 100 years McEwan's was 'the' hardware store with branches throughout Melbourne and its suburbs.

James McEwan Hardware started in the Ballarat Goldfields in the 1850's before opening a store on the corner of Elizabeth and Little Collins Streets, Melbourne [pic].

William Kerr Thomson started out as an employee of the James McEwan hardware company. When James McEwan died in 1868, Thomson and another employee, Samuel Renwick, formed a partnership and took over the company with great success. Thomson rapidly became a wealthy man and by 1872 he purchased 12 acres of Brighton land and engaged leading architect Lloyd Tayler and well-known builder David Mitchell (father of Nellie Melba) to design and construct his home, Kamesburgh, named after the Scottish seaside resort town on the Island of Bute.

In 1887 Thompson Renwick floated McEwans as a public company but it failed in 1889. After several owners (including the Baillieu's) it was taken over by Harold and T.J Luxton who ran the business very succesfully.

The Victorian and South Australian hardware stores McEwans, owned by James McEwans Ltd, were acquired by Bunnings in 1993.

Red HelmetThe Bourke Street store (pictured above) was where this writer (Red Helmet) worked in 1973 as a 17 year old whipper snapper first in accounts, then gardening (lawn mowers to be precise) and then white goods.

While researching James McEwan I came across this article... Co-partner member and ex-Argus journalist, Ebenezer Syme, bought The Age newspaper for 2000 pounds on June 6, 1856, supported by local citizens including hardware retailer James McEwan. His brother, David Syme, became a partner on September 27, 1856.

Why is this interesting? I worked for both McEwans and David Syme & Co (The Age) never realising the original connection.. Drop us a line if you can add to our McEwans history..

McEwans Means a Million Things!

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