These boots were made for drinking


March 21, 2013 by 250 Beers

Whilst researching something ever-so uninteresting, I stumbled upon something that actually was interesting…well, to me anyway, and it concerns the latest addition to my beer glass collection…

When I first emigrated to Brisbane from Erith in the UK I didn’t have a car of my own and so I spent quite a lot of time being driven around by various in-laws. The majority of which all live on the north side of Brisbane. One particular area north of Brisbane is Chermside which is largely associated with a huge Westfield shopping centre.

Just along Gympie Road (down the road from the shopping centre) stands a huge boot mounted to the roof of a paint shop (the paint shop was actually a used-car yard when I first saw the boot).

The Big Boot, 621 Gympie Road, Chermside (2010)

The Big Boot, 621 Gympie Road, Chermside (2010)

It is this boot that is the subject of my uninteresting research. What the hell is a giant boot doing there?

The Big Boot, 621 Gympie Road, Chermside. Photo taken in 2010.

The Big Boot, 621 Gympie Road, Chermside (2011)

Within seconds of utilising the world’s most popular search engine, I’d discovered that the large piece of footwear originally sat on the roof of an old boot factory building some 11 kilometres south in Caxton Street, Paddington.

Rumour has it that the family that acquired the property in 1976 also owned a few camping outlet stores around Brisbane called Boots Camping. It turns out that the shop which now houses the paint shop used to be a Boots Camping outlet. Ta-da! Mystery solved! I love the fact that the ugly old boot has been given a new lick of paint and actually features somewhat as a local landmark.

Now, what the hell has that got to do with my latest beer glass acquisition? Well, I’ll tell you. Whilst carrying out that little bit of research above, I stumbled across somebody selling a boot shaped beer glass with a motif on it that looked exactly like the boot on the roof.

Intrigued, I began to dig further¹ mainly because being a beer drinker and beer glass collector, I took an instant liking to the glass for sale. A glass that turned out to be from the 1970’s.

The Boot Factory 250ml beer glass

The Boot Factory 250ml beer glass

In its heyday, the boot factory was noted for churning out more than 600 pairs of shoes every day. It opened in 1888, moved to brand new premises in 1930, changed owners in 1960 and sadly closed in 1973. This was mainly due to the arrival of cheaper, imported footwear and the increasing demand for thongs (or flip-flops if you’re reading this from overseas).

The Boot Factory building built in 1930 posing as a nightclub circa 1988

The Boot Factory building built in 1930 posing as a nightclub circa 1988 (click for larger view)

Three years later, 46 years after it was built, the main factory building (above) became a restaurant called The Spaghetti Emporium and the mammoth boot was installed on the roof. If you look carefully at the photo, on top of the roof, you can see the rectangular base where the boot once stood. Quite why the boot made its first appearance on a building associated with boots some three years after its closure is beyond me. What I do know is that The Spaghetti Emporium served beer in boot shaped glasses – the very same kind that I stumbled across online. Perhaps it was a little bit of 1970’s gimmicky marketing genius at it’s best?

To bring us to the modern day…the restaurant closed in 1979 after food and hygiene inspectors allegedly found hundreds of empty dog food tins in the industrial bins out the back! The building then became the Brisbane Underground nightclub until it was demolished in 1990 to make way for a new road. Mystery shrouds exactly when the boot travelled north to sit above a camping shop. My guess is that it would have been around 1979 or 1980 which would have coincided with the restaurant closing down.

Now, this is a beer blog not a history lesson so, the glass…

It was on offer for $10 which I thought was a fair price for a 40-year-old piece of Brisbane’s history. I first approached the seller, Graham, months ago but he lives in Mooloolaba which is 70 kilometres away from me and I just never got around to committing to the purchase. This was until last Sunday when myself and one of the mini 250 Beers found ourselves near Mooloolaba. I contacted Graham and, luckily for me, he still had it and was willing to part with it.

He invited me to pop round which I did and we did business. Graham’s location also provided the already-bored mini 250 Beer a chance to get his toes wet and sandy on Mooloolaba’s impressive beach.

Another beery twist to the story is that Graham used to work as an electrician at the Castlemaine Perkins XXXX brewery in Milton. He also told me that both him and his wife, Vicky, ate at The Spaghetti Emporium but the glass fell into his possession at Lang Park (Suncorp Stadium) and not at the restaurant. Darn, I wish I’d asked him exactly how he’d got hold of it.

My beer glass collection now boasts this little 250ml addition which I just love. I took this photo in honour of the glass’ time with Graham…

XXXX Gold and The Boot Factory beer glass

XXXX Gold and The Boot Factory beer glass* (click for larger view)

I very much doubt it, but maybe the phrase “Get your drinking boots on” originated in Brisbane? Who knows? Let me know if you do. Also, if you’re reading this and know any further details surrounding the alleged dog food saga at The Emporium, please get in touch!

*The bottle is an old one that forms part of a 300-strong collection of unique, empty beer bottles. I do not, repeat, do not have stocks of this beer at home.
¹A lot of my research kept pointing me towards David Loosemore. For an in-depth look into the boot factory’s past, click here.

4 thoughts on “These boots were made for drinking

  1. […] the beer into my new boot beer glass and, seeing as Old Tom was named after a cat that lived at the Robinson Brewery in the […]

  2. […] a small (200ml) pilsner style glass (it’s the one I got from Brewbake) then my Boot Factory boot glass (250ml) got involved. Lastly, the 500ml IPA glass took the rest from the […]

  3. Cinders says:

    I used to eat at The Spaghetti Emporium as a kid so you’ve really got me thinking with that dog food story. I used to love the chicken liver pasta sauce. God knows what that was made from. I remember the restaurant had tables that were made from old pedal sewing machines, but strangely I’d forgotten about the giant boot.

  4. GB says:

    I just saw this thread – my father was an exec for Ferriscorp back in the day, which is the company that opened and ran “the Boot Factory” (and “Randall’s Room”, next door) in the ’70/80s. You can seen the company name on the corner of the building in your photo. You’re right – the huge fibreglass boot was 1970s gimmicky marketing.

    As for the dog food scandal – that was apparently started by a chef who’d been sacked. The funny thing was, the real beef mince actually in use was cheaper than the tinned dog food that he claimed was in the kitchens! Of course, it doesn’t sound like a great defence when you say that we don’t use dog food because it’s too expensive, and the place closed on the back of the rumours.

    I don’t know how the boot came to be at Chermside – I could ask my dad, but I’m not sure if he knows, either.

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