Fowler's Lion Factory

Fowler's Lion Factory

David and James Fowler founded the business of D. and J. Fowler (Australia) Ltd as a retail shop in King William Street in 1854. The business grew rapidly into a leading wholesale and indenting firm, and by the 1880s had offices in London and Fremantle. The British Journal of Commerce of October 11, 1889, commented that the Lion trademark was “accepted throughout the Australian colonies as a synonym for the highest state of excellence and purity in preserved fruits, jams, pickles, sauces, etc”. The firm balanced food imports with exporting such staples as wool, wheat, wine and copper ore.

By the early 20th century, D. and J. Fowler was one of Australia’s major retail grocers and a substantial economic concern in South Australia. Its further interests included the Adelaide Milling Co (purchased in 1895), Adelaide Bottle Co (1912), Robur Tea Co and Walton’s Ltd (both bought in 1931).

When a new factory was needed in about 1905, Fowlers commissioned Adelaide-born architect Frank Counsell, who had worked with the Victorian Railways Department and the public service in Perth. Counsell had been with Adelaide architects Cumming, Davies and Cavanagh and worked for the engineer-in-chief before starting his own practice in 1903.

The factory was completed during 1906. An employee later recalled that the builders, James King and Son, subcontracted the brickwork to W. Sander and Sons.

According to family sources, the original lion was carved by stonemason John Patrick Jackson. The present lion on the parapet is a copy installed in 1988, the original having moved with Fowlers.

The architectural design and careful construction of this large brick factory reflects the success of D. and J. Fowler. It was in use from 1906 until about the time the company was taken over by Southern Farmers Ltd in 1982-83.

The architectural importance of the factory building lies in its high-quality brick detailing and the well-handled composition of the facade. The main frontage on North Terrace was symmetrical. However this was compromised by the demolition of an eastern section for road widening in 1966. The elevation is broken into a number of bays by brick columns from which spring the parapet and crowning cornice.

The former factory is a landmark on the road approaches along North Terrace, and is one of the few remaining major industrial buildings in the city. The building is now a popular live music venue run by Arts SA.


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'Fowlers Live' is a significant element of the North Terrace streetscape and is a rare example of an industrial style building in the city.

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Images of Fowler's Lion Factory

  • Fowler's Lion Factory, 2014
Frank Counsell
James King and Son, W Sander and Sons
Building materials
Architectural styles
3 Federation Period (c. 1890–c. 1915), 3.7 Warehouse
1906 -
Architecture and design features
Frank Counsell, pediment, lion
Engineering features
West End
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
D and J Fowler
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Commercial, Industrial, Factory
AS2482 classification
11510 - Business House - Offices
Public Access
Opening hours only
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5184/430 D39017 A10
NTSA file exists
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
NTSA classified
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
3 Developing a City Economy
3.1.8 New Technology and City Development
3.5 Commercial, Marketing & Retail
3.5.2 Retail and Wholesale Industry
John Patrick Kackson
Australian Curriculum references
Year 6: Australia as a Nation


  • ACA, Assessments 1905-07, 1924, Mayor's report
  • 1906, p. 77; British Journal of commerce, 11
  • October 1889, p. 6; Burgess, H.T., Cyclopedia of
  • South Australia, Vol. 1, 1909, p. 543; MLSA, BRG
  • 14/72, Historical photographs (Town Acre 8), Years to remember - a record of the first hundred years of the business of D. and J. Fowler Ltd, 1954.

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