Nicholas Brothers and Aspro

Alfred Michael Nicholas was born on 14 September 1881 in Majorca, Victoria.  Alfred had only limited education but was driven by determination and ambition. His first job was at the age of 11 years as an errand boy for the grocers shop. He continued on to numerous jobs including being a salesman for a Music House, shop manager and also opened up his own import agency, which he maintained until he joined his brother George in the Aspro venture. 

 Alfred Nicholas

Alfred Nicholas

 George Nicholas

George Nicholas

During World War 1, all German patents and trademarks were suspended in Australia. It was at this time that George, a qualified pharmacist, decided to try and invent Aspirin. Though there were many struggles, he was successful and registered the trade name on 12 June 1915. Alfred joined George on the venture to develop Aspirin, which later become Aspro. Through hard work and heavy investment, Alfred and George were rewarded by the first sales of Aspro in May 1919.  Alfred passed away in 1937 and his son Maurice aged 20 became actively involved in Nicholas Pty Ltd becoming Chairman in 1947 until his death in 1976. Throughout the 1920s, Nicholas Pty Ltd, continued to expand their operations. Manufacturing began in New Zealand in 1923 and the first sales were made in England in 1924. Expansion into Europe began in 1925 and into Asia in 1927. 

A Healthy Enterprise

Health and nutritional product Akta-Vite was  formulated in 1943 under Maurice Nicholas’s management. Locally, the operation also included owning and running the Walwa Milk Foods factory which focused on milk powder drying. By 1968, there were 75 brands associated with Nicholas Pty Ltd. Some of these include Akta-Vite, Penta-Vite, White King, Vincent’s Powders, Staminade and Nature’s Way.  In 1981 Nicholas acquired Kiwi shoe products and continued business until 1986, when Nicholas was sold to Sara Lee. Whilst these brands are no longer owned by the Nicholas family they remain trusted Australian household products.

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Nicholas Family's Contribution to the Community 

Alfred donated over half his estate to philanthropy. On Alfred’s death, his estate was valued at £827,000, whilst his donations to charity was £500,000. His contribution to the community was immense. 

Alfred donated generously to ongoing institutions that are still providing community benefits today such as Wesley College in St Kilda Road, and Methodist Ladies College. He donated the funds to build the original Seafarers Mission, Lord Somers Camp, Princess Mary Club and to many Melbourne hospitals and universities. His house Burnham Beeches in the Dandenongs was donated as a hospital for soldiers in WWII and is currently being restored as a hotel. He also created the magnificent Alfred Nicholas Gardens in Sherbrooke, which the Nicholas Family donated to Parks Victoria and is used today recreationally. The Nicholas Pavilion at the Showgrounds and the Nicholas building at 37 Swanston St, Melbourne are other great examples.

 Alfred Nicholas and Family

Alfred Nicholas and Family

We still continue with the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Award to the “Best in Show Jersey Cow” at the Royal Agricultural Show. Alfred’s legacy has continued on in Australia not only by the continued success of the Nicholas products, but through his philanthropy, particularly in Melbourne. Today the descendants of the Nicholas family remain actively engaged continuing this wonderful tradition of supporting the community through their various philanthropic activities.

 Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens

Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens

 Wesley College Melbourne

Wesley College Melbourne

 Nicholas Pavilion Melbourne 

Nicholas Pavilion Melbourne 

 Lord Summers Camp Victoria

Lord Summers Camp Victoria

 Seafarers Mission Melbourne

Seafarers Mission Melbourne

 Nicholas Building, Swanston Street Melbourne

Nicholas Building, Swanston Street Melbourne

 Former Nicholas Aspro Factory

Former Nicholas Aspro Factory

 Burnham Beeches Mansion

Burnham Beeches Mansion

 Princess Mary Club Melbourne

Princess Mary Club Melbourne