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Alfred NicholasPrint Page Print this page

02-March-2015
02-March-2015

Photographs supplied by Graeme Saunders / Sandra Brown

The Memorial gardens commemorate Alfred Nicholas, one of the partners of Nicholas and Company, the developers of the medicine, "Aspro". The gardens formed part of his Burnam Beeches Estate and was donated to the local shire. 

Alfred purchased the land in 1929 and proceeded to purchase subsequent land around it, extending the size of the property to 13 acres. The Burnham Beeches Estate is an Art Deco masterpiece, designed for Nicholas in the early thirties, and is somewhat likened to the lines of an ocean liner.

Nicholas traveled to many parts of Victoria and overseas to look for established trees to populate his gardens, designing it with a lake, rock pools, and ornamental designs. He hired an expert gardener to help with the creation of his prized garden. The gardens were not finished before his death in 1937, although the majority of the planting had been finished. This then left his widow alone to look after the property, resulting in the garden falling into a state of deterioration.

The property has a long history of patronage and has gone through many phases and changes of ownership, including being a hotel, a Children’s Hospital in the early 1940s, a research facility in the 1950s, with new extensions added to it in both the 1950s and 1980s. After the property fell into a state of disrepair and became unused from the early 1990s, the Estate was purchased in 2010 to be upgraded and refurbished to modern standards. The gardens itself are now owned and operated by Parks Victoria.

When World War One cut off German supplies of acetylsalicylic acid, better known as aspirin, Attorney-General W.M. Hughes, announced that German patents and trade marks would be suspended and then granted to any home-based manufacturer who could meet the required standards of purity. Using kerosene tins and kitchen utensils borrowed from his wife, George Nicholas set out to react salicylic acid, a white powder, with acetic anhydride, an acrid-smelling liquid. No information existed in Australia and the plant was of the most primitive kind. After much perserverance he made the first Australian acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin, but it was impure. With the help of freelance entrepreneur Henry Woolf Shmith, after many weeks of experimenting he had a batch of pure aspirin. On 12 June 1915, they applied under wartime legislation to take over the trade name 'Aspirin' from Bayer. Officialdom ignored their application until Frank Anstey prodded Hughes into having the government analyst test their product. On 17 September Hughes announced that it was absolutely pure, that it contained no free salicylic acid and that in all respects it complied with the requirements of the British Pharmacopoeia. He granted Shmith, Nicholas & Co. a licence to make and sell aspirin in Australia.  In April 1917 the name 'Aspro' was adopted and registered.​

Location

Address:1A Sherbrooke Road, Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens, Sherbrooke, 3789
State:VIC
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.876928
Long: 145.356664
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Garden
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Industry
Link:http://adb.anu.edu.au/

Dedication

Left Side Inscription
ALFRED NICHOLAS
MEMORIAL 
GARDENS
Source: MA, ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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