Menz Biscuit Factory

Menz Biscuit Factory

John Mentz (the original spelling) and Magdalena Lass arrived in Adelaide aboard the Steinwaerder from Hamburg in January 1849 and married in May at Holy Trinity Church. In about 1850 they set up a grocery and bakery shop in Wakefield Street, living in a two-room brick house at the rear. Ten years later John died, but, like many other colonial widows, Magdalena managed the business until her sons could accept the responsibility. William took over in 1867 and was joined by his brother August 11 years later.

Under their management the business made major changes. In 1878 they built a large shop at the corner of Wakefield Street and Divett Place. With continuing success they expanded the factory, and bought the Goode and Durrant warehouse in Divett Place and the Wheelwright’s Arms Hotel in Roper Street. In the 1880s the business moved into the biscuit trade and closed the grocery section.

By the 1890s the firm was operating as W. Menz & Co., which became a limited company in 1919. This became a public company in 1951 and by 1979 was part of Arnott-Motteram-Menz.

In time Menz became a household name in South Australia. The family business and the company were associated with the Wakefield Street premises for more than a century. All biscuit production was transferred to premises at Marleston in 1953, followed by the offices, then the remaining operations by 1979.

Of architectural as well as historical significance are the two-storey Italianate block extending along Wakefield Street from Divett Place to Roper Street, and the original section at the western corner, which dates from 1878. Major additions were made by architects F.W. Dancker in 1911-12 and McMichael and Harris in 1946.

The complex includes a chimney at the rear that emphasises its important industrial role and reflects the city’s pre-eminence as an industrial centre in the 19th and early 20th centuries. An engraving by S. Calvert dated 1876 reveals more than 30 such chimneys in Adelaide. Now there are only three.

The factory interior has been frequently altered, once after a large section was gutted by fire. Conversion and adaption have restored the original shopfront and balconettes on the Wakefield Street/Divett Place corner.

Despite the construction of much larger public buildings nearby during the 1970s, the Menz Biscuit Factory and the Wakefield Hotel provide a valid reminder of Wakefield Street's nineteenth century scale of development.


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As well as being historically significant for it's association with one of South Australia's largest and most popular brands, the building is architecturally significant as an example of a 19th century factory.

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Images of Menz Biscuit Factory

  • Menz Biscuit Factory, 2014
  • Menz Biscuit Factory photo.jpeg
Building materials
Brick, Render, Stucco, Stone, Bluestone
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890)
1878 -  

Additional Works

Additions designed by F W Dancker

Construction commenced
Construction completed

Additions designed by Eric McMichael and Harris

Construction commenced
Construction completed
Architecture and design features
chimney, veranda, industrial
Engineering features
East End
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
W Menz and Company
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Commercial, Warehouse
AS2482 classification
11510 - Business House - Offices
Public Access
Business/trading hours
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5836/846 F16379 A5 - 10
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 registered
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
2.2.1 Early Colonial Settlement
3.1 Economic Cycles
3.1.5 Farming Boom
3.4 Manufacturing
3.4.3 Factories
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • ACA, Annual report 1911, Assessments, BSO index, Digest of Proceedings; Illustrated
  • Sydney News, supplement, July 1876, engraving by S. Calvert; MLSA, Bierbaum files, BRG
  • 94, records of W. Menz & Co. Ltd., Historical photographs (Town Acre 299).

Further reading

External links

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