Deposit Z385 - Burns Philp and Company holding deposit

Identity area

Reference code



Burns Philp and Company holding deposit


  • 1883 - 1996 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

325 boxes and additional cartons

Context area

Name of creator

(1876 - 2006)

Administrative history

The origins of Burns, Philp and Company Limited can be traced to the partnership between James Burns and Robert Philp formed in 1876. The company was incorporated in Sydney on 21 April 1883 with Burns and Philp as joint Managing Directors until Philp resigned from the Board in 1892. By the end of the 1880s the company had branches in Townsville, Normanton, Burketown, Thursday Island, Cairns, Charters Towers, Sydney, Brisbane and London. By this date the interests of the company included merchandising, shipping with its own vessels, and as an agent for the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company (AUSN), and insurance, with the establishment of the North Queensland Insurance Company as a subsidiary in 1886. In 1886 Burns and Philp agreed to run a mail steamer from Thursday Island to Port Moresby where a branch was established in 1890. In 1889 the company diversified into plantation ownership with the formation of the Australasian New Hebrides Company which purchased about 80,000 acres of land in the New Hebrides. In the late 19th century and early 20th century the company extended its area of interest from Melanesia to the Central Pacific, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. In 1908 a branch was established in Java at Samarang and in 1915 a branch in Wellington. Burns Philp Company of San Francisco Inc was set up in June 1917. To consolidate its interests in acquiring plantations, the company formed subsidiary companies to run and manage plantations. Hall Sound Co was formed in 1900, the Solomon Island Development Co in 1908, Shortland Island Plantations Ltd in 1910, Choiseul Plantations Ltd in 1911, New Britain Plantations Ltd and New Ireland Plantations Ltd were established in 1930, and Kulon Plantations Ltd and New Hanover Plantations Ltd in 1931. The company set up subsidiaries to control geographic areas of operations, the largest being Burns Philp (South Sea) Company Limited which was incorporated in March 1920. In 1946 two other major subsidiaries were established, Burns Philp (New Hebrides) Ltd, and Burns Philp (New Guinea) Ltd. Burns Philp (Norfolk Island) Ltd was set up in 1973. In the 1930s the company moved into urban retailing and established the company Penneys Ltd which was sold to Coles in 1956. From the 1960s the company's shipping activities declined following the Commonwealth Government's decision to withdraw the shipping subsidy. The company moved into the manufacture of food and beverages, photographic and electrical goods, vehicle sales and rental, distribution of home building materials, hardware, liquor wholesaling and provision of financial investment and trustee services. Takeovers have included A J Chown Holdings Limited (1973); Yencken Glass Industries Limited (1973); Ira Berk Limited (1976); Sun Electric Consolidated Limited (1976); Mauri Bros & Thomson Limited (1982); and Nock & Kirby Holdings Ltd (1983). The company was delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange in December 2006 having been acquired by Rank Group Australia Pty Limited.

Name of creator

(1872 - 1982)

Administrative history

The business was established in 1872 by Mauri brothers, Joaquim and Jose, for growing and manufacturing cork, and importing goods and equipment for the cordial and aerated water trade. In 1895 the firm was sold to Ninian Miller Thomson and in 1898 the London Office of Mauri Brothers was sold to Butler Bros. In 1899 Antonio San Miguel, of cork importers A San Miguel & Co, acquired an interest in Mauri Brothers & Thomson (Sydney) while Thomson and Edwin Charles Gutteridge became co-partners in the Melbourne firm of Mauri Brothers & Thomson. In December 1904, Gutteridge’s interest in Mauri Brothers & Thomson and the Melbourne company of spice and essence manufacturers, Harrison San Miguel & Co, was bought out by Thomson, Antonio San Miguel and Harold Furley Harvey. The company was registered as Mauri Brothers & Thomson Ltd in New South Wales on 28 February 1905. Thomson was appointed Managing Director and John William Pickworth appointed Secretary. The company’s registered office was transferred to 46/48 York St, Sydney on 20 March 1905 and in 1906 the Mauri Bros & Thomson Engineering Works was transferred from 36 York St to Bourke St, Waterloo. The Engineering Works manufactured filters and crowners, soda fountains, ice cream making machines, egg whisks, dough and cake mixers, complete baking plants, chilling and carbonating cylinders for beer, and automatic bottle washing machinery. In September 1907 the company purchased the goodwill and process of manufacturing malt extract from Samuel, Ernest and Percy John Cornwell of Cornwell’s. In 1913 the company began the production of crown seals under the brand Pinnacle Crowns.

In 1924 the company purchased the Australian and New Zealand patent rights for manufacturing compressed yeast and spirits from Danish firm, Dansk Gaerings Industri. In December 1929, an agreement was made between the company, F A Henriques Ltd (Vic) and the Atlas Seal Company to form the Australian Seal Co Pty Ltd. F A Henriques Ltd was later acquired by the company in October 1930. From July 1931 the company’s bottled vinegar section was amalgamated with Champions Vinegar Co (Australia) Ltd. During 1937-38 negotiations were completed with Stevenson & Howell Ltd for an association between the two companies for the manufacture under English patents and trademarks of ‘Pinnacle’ and ‘Red Ball’ essences. The company purchased rights to use the trademarks Pinnacle, Champion’s and Cornwell’s.

In June 1952 new subsidiary companies were registered for each state using the name Mauri Brothers & Thomson. The company acquired shares in Dominion Compressed Yeast Co Ltd in September 1954, Daniel Scott Industries Ltd (1958), Barrett’s Yeast Holdings Ltd (1959), Raleigh Preserving Co Ltd (1959), Pick-Me-Up Food Products Ltd (1961), Progressive Engineering Co Ltd (1961), Colbro Holdings Ltd (1967) and Associated Foods Ltd (1974). Mauri Bros & Thomson Ltd were acquired by Burns, Philp and Company Limited on 24 February 1982.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

All types of company records including minutes, correspondence, reports, legal and financial records, staff records, investment registers, branch returns, subject files, strategic plans, photographs, plans, videotapes and audiotapes of interviews with company executives. Includes records of head office, branches and subsidiaries and associated companies such as Mauri Brothers and Thomson. This deposit includes many cartons which are not yet processed and listed.


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Some records are restricted. Archives staff will need to request permission from the owner of the records before access can be given

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Allied materials area

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Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

NBAC 115; NBAC 145

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Description control area

Description identifier

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Entered from deposit description on 24 August 2011




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