I Allus Has Wan At Eleven

 

  • Many may recognise this famous vintage Carlton United Brewery beer poster advertisement, entitled – “I Allus Has Wan at Eleven”.

There is plenty to be said about the history of the man who posed for this poster. For starters, there is uncertainty about this man’s true identity. One thing we know is his name was Sam. Some claim it was Sam Griffin, others claim it was Sam Knott. However, both men were roustabout prospectors from the old gold-mining area of Woods Point in Victoria.

The poster depicts Sam with a long beard, cap, long-sleeved flannel shirt, low-waisted trousers hitched with bowyangs below the knees and batted looking work boots; and a piece of cloth tucked into his belt near the hip pocket, ready to wipe the sweat from his brow.

  • One consistent fact is that Sam was having a drink at 11.00 a.m. at McVeigh’s Upper Yarra Hotel at Walsh’s Creek high in the Yarra Valley, near Warburton.

Secondly, there seems to be some consternation as to whether the poster was derived from a quick sketch taken at the Hotel, or from a photo (ca 1906) by a travelling salesman for the Carlton and United Brewery. Nevertheless, it was given to the advertising team at the Brewery and the rest, one might say, ‘is history’.

I allus has wan at eleven” has become a famous chant in Australia’s beer drinking culture. Simple, but effective, it caught the imagination of the drinking public at the time.  Closely associated with it was a little verse:

I allus have wan at eleven,
It’s a habit wot’s gotta be done,
Cos if I don’t have one at eleven,
I allus have eleven at one.

  • There is a suggestion that Sam died a fortnight before the poster was released.

We also know that McVeigh’s Hotel no longer exists. It was subsumed after the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works cleared a large area to put in the Upper Yarra Dam project in the late 1930s.

  • Now here’s the best bit. These days, somewhere nearby is the Sam Knott’s Hotel at Wesburn (West Warburton), where they tell the tale of Sam’s coffin being taken into the hotel at 11.00 a.m. on the day of his burial; and since then, some people claim to have seen his ghost at the hotel – at 11.00 a.m.  (of course!).
  • But this cannot be true, as Sam Knott’s Hotel was built well after the time when Sam died, but it seems to indicate that more people believe that Sam was Sam Knott; not Sam Griffin.

Doesn’t matter much either way how the story goes, but regardless of theories, mysteries and inconsistencies, this tale reads as a great Aussie yarn.

Is it beer o’clock yet?  | Must be somewhere in this world!

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