Beer poisoning

Join this Vicfix campaign to purify articles about the beer poisoning cases of 1880

Vicfix is improving the searchability of digitised newspaper articles and making the hidden details of Victoria's rich history available for everyone.

About the beer poisoning cases of 1880

In January 1880, two workers on a Queenscliff steamer endured agonising symptoms following their consumption of a 'shandygaff' of beer and lemonade; one of them died before the boat reached Melbourne. In Prahran, two men were taken to Alfred Hospital for vomiting and convulsions after drinking bottled beer. A third case, involving the consumption of bottled beer by a woman in Emerald Hill, was later dismissed as 'hysteria' but the Prahran and Queenscliff cases were found to be the results of strychnine poisoning – most likely due to contaminated glass bottles.

Historic newspapers reported in forensic detail on sterilisation processes in Melbourne's main breweries; the findings of the coronial inquiry into the Queenscliff fatality, which cleared the brewery of blame; and a rash of false claims of beer poisoning around Melbourne in the wake of the Queenscliff case.

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Convivial diggers in Melbourne, ST Gill, watercolour painting, 1869

Beer poisoning cases of 1880

Great news: all the articles in this campaign are fixed! Explore them by clicking on the 'Fixed articles' tab, or choose a newspaper article to fix in one of our other Vicfix correction campaigns.