The Preserving Works

barossa history

The Preserving Works

words by
luke rothe
>> Employees inside the preserving works c.1900.

Lion Brand groceries were produced by D & J Fowler, and their main Adelaide building, topped with a lion statue, still stands at North Terrace as the Lion Arts Factory.

D & J Fowler expanded to Nuriootpa in 1887, buying vacant land on the east corner of Gawler Street and Third Street, and by December finished building a new jam and canning factory named the Lion Preserving Works.

The factory was described in 1889 as “…a severely plain structure comprised chiefly of galvanised iron but having accommodation for a large amount of business.”

The factory used a wood fired furnace to cook the processed fruit, and in 1888 Fowlers purchased 900 acres of Peppermint scrub country at Moppa, north of Nuriootpa, for a good supply of firewood.

When cleared, the land at Moppa was developed by Fowlers into an apricot orchard and large vineyard, and by 1893 it had a 33-acre planting of apricots that produced 40 tons of fruit for drying in 1904.

In 1895 Fowlers built a winery at Moppa, with hillside cellars and manager’s residence. The elevated property with views was named Kalimna, an Aboriginal word meaning beautiful.

Wine was produced in bulk and was mainly exported to London, and with 326 acres of vines in 1903, Kalimna was described as the largest single vineyard in South Australia.

Today little historical evidence remains of Kalimna Winery’s existence, apart from the buildings which have been owned by Penfolds since 1945.

The Kalimna Winery appears to have taken priority by Fowlers, and local fruit growers were disappointed by the closing of the Lion Preserving Works at Nuriootpa in 1895. 

>> D & J Fowlers ‘Lion Brand’ logo.
>> Kalimna Vineyards letter head 1922.

An alternative factory for the town was some years away, but The Advertiser, December 12, 1903, stated ‘The Angas Park Fruit Drying Company have purchased the factory of D & J Fowler. They intend to purchase all kinds of fruits….and dry and preserve them. Currants and raisins will also be dried.’ 

By 1905 the fruit drying company expanded into fruit canning, becoming Angas Park Preserving Company.

The railway came to Nuriootpa in 1911, and the Angas Park Preserving Company relocated opposite the bustling new railway station, next to Appelt’s Cool Drink factory, around 1913. 

Angas Park sold to the SA Fruitgrowers Co-op Society in 1919, but this new venture only lasted a few seasons. Fruit canning in Nuriootpa didn’t resume until Barossa Canneries Limited commenced in 1948.

Meanwhile, the abandoned Lion Preserving Works site in Gawler Street was bought by the military for training purposes during the First World War.

Known as the Nuriootpa Drill Hall, this large building 121 feet by 65 feet, was also used for picture shows and concerts.

After several unsuccessful attempts by the government to lease the Drill Hall in the early 1920’s, it was finally sold, and the building demolished in 1926.

The vacant land was subdivided, with two of the three original houses built remaining on the present Co-op Barossa Mitre 10 site.

>> Angas Park label. Detailed graphics include a church steeple c.1910.
>> 1916 Angas Park receipt and colourful label

Luke Rothe

Local Barossa historian and enthusiast
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