Have your say: council looks to reinstate historic Brewery Lane name

There's a call to bring back the historic name of a small but noted laneway in Forbes.

"Brewery Lane" is an old name for the lane between Johnson and Union streets, behind McDonalds and the BP, most recently known as Dowling Lane.

Local history groups appealed to Forbes Shire Council to restore the original name, and the story behind it is an interesting one.

Cheryl Barton from the Forbes Family History Group explained the lane was named for the brewery originally completed in 1899 by Messrs Marrin, Vincent & Co. on the Dowling Street site formerly used as a saw-milling business.

"The Brewery has seen a number of changes in occupations over its lifetime, but is probably best known as the old Cordial Factory," Mrs Barton said.

"In the 1950s and 1960s, the cordial factory was owned and run by two of my uncles, Jack and Roy Genge.

"Flood levels from Forbes' major floods from 1916-1990 were marked on the side of the building. "Unfortunately, the building was destroyed by fire in January 2006 and a piece of our history was lost."

Forbes Family History Group and Forbes District Historical Society approached council about the name change last year, after Forbes local and National Library historian Rob Willis shared an article from The Advocate of 1974.

In an article titled "Brewery Lane Boys" Mr Bill Jones told the Advocate of the day that the lane "had the reputation of being one of the toughest lanes in Australia, for the men who lived there were carved as if from ironbark".

It was known for its personalities, notably Handkerchief Jones, "known by that title because almost invariably he wore a handkerchief around his neck, mirror-toed shoes and the harness on his horses was very ornate in design," the Advocate reported.

"Most of his family were woodcarters, all were exceptionally good boxers and to a major degree they dictated the pattern of life in Brewery Lane.

"Other residents included the O'Connor, Preston, Parker, and Umpleby families (also known as McAlisters).

"Brewery Lane reflected the most able men in their day to tackle the manual tasks - those which required skill and also tremendous endurance and feats of brute strength.

"Boxing was as much the entertainment of the time as rugby league is today and took place in a dusty ring or in a makeshift roped square flanked by lounging spectators."

While the houses in Brewery Lane are long gone and the face of the area has changed dramatically - the Old Cordial Factory is now the site of Roylances Tractor Replacements - the Family History Group thought it was a pity this piece of local history had been largely overlooked.

Together with the Forbes and District Historical Museum, they approached Forbes' heritage committee who in turn put the recommendation for change to the council.

Forbes Shire Council is now calling for any public comment on the renaming of the lane.

Any submissions can be emailed to forbes@forbes.nsw.gov.au or by post to the General Manager, PO Box 333 Forbes NSW 2871.

Submissions close 5pm May 31.