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The Speight’s Ale House is in Timaru’s Landing Service building, built in the period between 1870 and 1876. It is the last remaining instance of the three Landing Service buildings, and the only one known to still stand in the Southern Hemisphere.

A little bit of history

In December 1868 the commercial heart of Timaru suffered a major blow when a fire that started in a furniture factory on a hot north-westerly day engulfed 39 buildings in the centre of the town, the majority of which were constructed of wood.

As a result of this devastation the Borough Council adopted new regulations requiring all buildings in the business district to be constructed of brick or stone with tile or slate roof’s, and before long the area had been rebuilt. Because of these regulations the Landing Service building was built of solidified lava (basalt or “bluestone”).

The Landing Service building was originally used as a warehouse. Boats would be rowed between shore and ship and then pulled up the skids by a steam engine and unloaded. By the late 1870s the construction of the first breakwater made the Landing Service redundant as ships could then berth in the harbour.

After the Landing Service closed in 1881, the building was used as a wool store until the 1980s when it was targeted for demolition so the land could be used for a car park. The Timaru City Council passed control of the building to the Timaru Civic Trust in July 1989, who restored it to its present glory.


Like the Speight’s Ale House building, Speight’s has a long history. In 1876 James Speight, Charles Greenslade and William Dawson set up Speight’s Brewery in Dunedin. Situated on the same site today in Rattray St, Dunedin, Speight’s is the Pride of the South.

The Founders

In 1876, in the bustling southern city of Dunedin, James Speight’s brewing dream became a reality. With a couple of mates, Charles Greenslade and William Dawson, he purchased an evacuated bottling and malt plant, where all three had worked, and set up his own brewery.

The three men made a great team and they wasted no time in getting down to business – in fact, they put through their first brew on April 4th, a month before they received the lease on May 1st and two months before they had even obtained a license on June 6th!

By 1887, the combination of clever business sense and great beer had seen Speight’s grow to become the largest brewery in New Zealand. But sadly, with his dream at last a reality James Speight died in August of that year.

Gold Medal Ale

In 1879 a cask of Speight’s Strong Ale won the fledgling brewery its first international award at the Sydney International Exhibition. Sales soared and the future of Speight’s was secured.

Speight’s Ale continued to go from strength to strength, winning major international awards including several gold medals, hence the 1893 naming of “Speight’s Gold Medal Ale”.

Speight's Craft Range

Speight’s Brewery Dunedin has brewed award-winning ales since 1876. The four brews in the Speight’s Craft Range – Distinction Ale, Pale Ale, Porter and Pilsener- were originated from recipes of a bygone era in a quest to recreate flavours as true as possible to the original styles.

Three of the Craft Range brews, Pale Ale, Porter and Pilsener, are fermented in kauri gyles- open-topped wooden fermentation vats which are lined with beeswax. Small volume and labour intensive, these open, shallow vessels help to bring out the seamless character and full aromas of the brews. Only one other brewery in the world is still known to use kauri gyles.

Speight’s Brewery

Speight’s Brewery has always produced award winning, traditional ales & beers, using only the finest quality Southern ingredients & purest water. We take great care & pride in brewing our beers & are proud to present them here to you. Why not taste the whole family of Speight’s beers! Purchase an Alehouse Tasting Tray, which will have a sample of each beer for you to try.