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Biographical entry Kruse, Johann August (John) (1822 - 1895)

7 July 1822
Aurich, Germany
19 October 1895
Victoria, Australia
Chemist and Pharmaceutical manufacturer


Johann August (John) Kruse was instrumental in the development of the pharmaceutical industry and pharmacy training in Victoria. He was a driving force behind the creation of the Pharmaceutical Society of Victoria and was appointed a founding member of the Society's inaugural council in 1857. He manufactured many pharmaceuticals and health products such as mineral waters and 'Kruse's Fluid Magnesia' (1863) which is still in use today. He later went on to produce insecticides and dynamite, then established his own analytical chemistry service. In 1878 Kruse established Victoria's first pharmacy training facility - the Melbourne School of Pharmacy. There pharmacy apprentices were taught chemistry, botany, materia medica and Latin, while country students could study by correspondence. The School was endorsed and monitored by the Pharmacy Board of Victoria to which Kruse was appointed in 1880. Kruse's pharmacy school was the forerunner of the Victorian College of Pharmacy, Monash University, which remains Victoria's only pharmacy training institute.


In 1853, shortly after qualifying as pharmacist at the University of Göttingen, Johann August (John) Kruse, moved to London in search of work. He was appointed manager of a pharmacy which was run by the medical practitioner Dr S. Weil. The following year Weil sent Kruse to Victoria, Australia to manage a new pharmacy and tobacconist's shop which he was having built at 136 Bridge Rd in Richmond. Business was slow, so in 1856 Kruse decided to open a second pharmacy 'John Kruse and Company Chemists and Druggists' in the heart of Melbourne - 207 Bourke Street. The following year the Richmond shop was destroyed by fire, so all pharmaceutical production was moved to the Bourke St premises and later to his new location at 184 Bourke St.

During the 1860s Kruse began manufacturing mineral waters, dynamite, insecticides, tonics such as his fluid magnesia and many other products. He won many awards for his health products and became a highly respected member of the pharmaceutical industry. The dynamite venture was only short lived, but Kruse continued to produce artificial waters and bottle natural mineral waters for the rest of his life. Kruse's main chemical laboratories were at 119 Flinders Street East and in 1867 were moved to 186 Flinders Lane. His main pharmacy was moved to 96 Russell St at some stage.

Due to financial difficulties Kruse was forced to sell his business in 1868 to Felton Grimwade and Company and work for them as manager of their chemical works. By the early 1870s he had regained financial independence so left the company to establish his own businesses again. He opened up a pharmacy at 31 Swanston St and in 1874 (circa) leased Victoria's premier natural springs, Clifton Springs, on the northern side of the Bellarine Peninsula, where he established a bottling plant.

During this period, there was virtually no pharmacy training or regulation in Victoria, but John Kruse was a driving force in changing this situation. He established Victoria's first training school for pharmacists (1878), was one of the founding council members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Victoria and was elected to the Pharmacy Board of Victoria for its second term (1880). Kruse's Melbourne School of Pharmacy was initially located at 100 Elizabeth Street at the Victorian Chemists' Assistants' Association, but later moved it to his home in Hanover St, Fitzroy. By 1981 Kruse was appointed foundation Director of the new School of Pharmacy which later became the Victorian School of Pharmacy in Swanston St. Kruse left the school at the end of his appointment in 1886 and offer his own training courses at the 'Fitzroy School of Chemistry and Pharmacy' which he ran from his home. He also set up his own analytical chemistry practice and worked as public analyst.


Education - Qualified as a pharmacist at the University of Göttingen, Germany
Career position - Moved to London in search of work
1852 - 1853
Career position - Pharmacy Manager in New Oxford Street, London,
1853 - 1857
Career position - Pharmacy and tobacconists's shop opened at 136 Bridge Rd, Richmond
16 November 1853
Life event - Arrived in Australia (Melbourne) with his wife aboard the Melpomene
1856 - 1860
Career position - John Kruse and Company Chemists and Druggists opened at 207 Bourke Street East
1857 -
Career position - Founding council member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Victoria
Career position - Business sold to Felton Grimwade and Company
1868 - 1870
Career position - Manager of fluid magnesia and insecticide production at Felton Grimwade and Company
1878 - c. 1882
Career position - Melbourne School of Pharmacy established
1880 - 1882
Career position - Member of the Pharmacy Board of Victoria
1882 - 1886
Career position - Founding Director of the Victorian School of Pharmacy
Taxonomy event - Eucalyptus kruseana F Muell. (1895) was named in his honour

Published resources

Journal Articles

  • McMullen, Gabrielle, 'A German Contribution to Colonial Science', Chemistry in Australia, 68 (9) (2001), 26-28. Details
  • McMullen, Gabrielle L., 'Johann August Kruse (1822-1895), Leader in Melbourne's Nineteenth-Century Chemical and Pharmaceutical Professions', Historical Records of Australian Science, 13 (1) (2000), 43-66. Details


See also

Annette Alafaci