Since 1883, Earp Bros have been innovating. Learn about our history, and discover why we are who we are today.




George F. Earp made no hesitation in establishing himself as a merchant, with an emphasis on imports. By 1885, the port of Newcastle was a constant stream of merchandise, most of which originated in England. Many common products included items such as vinegar, dried milk, pickles and matches.


An early step was to negotiate a partnership with Mr W.J. Gillam of Albany, who was to become a partner in Earp Gillam & Co. with a one-third interest. George F. Earp invited his brother, Frank, to join as a partner, and appointed his father, George William Earp, London, to attend to the export side of the business.


The first partnership financial statement existing is dated 30 November 1888, and indicates that the Firm was by then well-established.


There were, over the years from 1801 onwards, various reports of of the presence of coal in the South Maitland district. In 1886, Professor (later Sir) T.W. Edgeworth David scientifically traced the outcrop of the Greta seam from Maitland to Cessnock, and filed favourable reports with the authorities.


After opening a shaft and selling some coal locally, the local syndicate realised that capital would be needed to set up a colliery to exploit the wealth of coal in the area.


To this end, Earp Gillam & Co were entrusted with the work of forming a company.


The first secretary was Mr Frank Earp, and the Joint Director was Mr George F. Earp. The registered office was in Bond Street, Newcastle, with Earp Gillam & Co. the selling and shipping agents. The issue of 50,000 £1 shares was successfully placed and a close association evolved between the mining company and its agents that was to span four decades.


The Firm, now Earp Brothers & Co., commenced the new century with a staff of 26, to rise to 34 within a year. Selling of coal continued, as did importing of produce, grocery and building materials.


In 1911 and 1913, the Firm bought from the Bank of New South Wales the complex of galvanised iron premises in Telford and Bond Streets.


The building nearest Scott Street was made the produce store. A motor repair shop, the 'City Garage', was opened in 1914 in the corner building.


The effect of World War 1 on the Firm's business was slight but the principals became deeply involved in war-time activities.


Mr and Mrs Charles Earp suffered a grevious loss when their son Reggie was killed in France. He was a gunner in 10 Field Artillery Brigade, struck by shrapnel while working his gun in action.


In 1915, Earp Woodcock Beveridge & Co. Ltd. timber merchants and importers, extended their operations to that of timber millers, and the Firm continued to prosper. A branch was opened at Cessnock which handled hardware as well as timber.


The decision to cease wholesale grocery distribution was followed by the upgrade of the 'City Garage' with the title of Earp's Motors Ltd. For a time, the sale of T Model Ford cars indicated a profitable future. The produce store closed in April 1930, and staffing levels were the lowest on record. The end of the first 50 years of the Company was also the end of an era.


Improvement in business was evident in 1934, but the Firm's merchandise department was rather a mixed grill. In the building section, plaster (for fibrous plaster sheets) was the main line, backed up by cement, which was handled in 10 ton truck loads. Arnott's biscuit distribution was a useful line that had survived from the old grocery days. Rock salt importation continued and for a time the distribution of 'Wellsaline' and 'Silvertown' lubricating oils was tried out. In 1933, Earp's Motors re-opened in their old site.


To conform with the Companies Act 1936, Earp Brothers & Co Ltd. became a proprietary company on June 22 1937, adding 'Pty.' to its name before the word 'Limited'.


The second World War was in 1941 having its effect on the Company with Mr Roderick W. Earp entering the Army in signals. The Company's business during this period was maintained smoothly but expansion was halted.


Upon return to civilian life, Mr R.W. Earp was made Managing Director and a redirection towards building supplies had hardware flowing through the store. This was a new turning point towards a new identity in the Company's affairs.


Older merchandise lines fell away, and the rise in demand for hardware and tiles was greeted with open arms. In the case of Arnott's biscuits, the distributorship actually lasted until 1963, a period spanning over 75 years.


In the second half of the century, a shortage of manufactured goods led to the decision to supply the shortage by importing substantial quantities of tiles, baths and sanitary earthenware.


As a number of other Earp agencies slowly faded off, the importing of high quality tiles and bathroom ware flourished. With a tightening focus on imported material by Earp Bros, these facilities continued into the early 2000's, when the decision was made to solely import the highest quality ceramic tiles and natural stones in the world.

'A History of Earp Brothers & Co. Pty. Limited' is a biographical record of the origins of the company since establishment. Copies may be available - please contact


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