Thomas Aitken came to Victoria from Scotland in 1842 at the age of nineteen. In 1851 he founded the Corio Brewery in Geelong, and later started the Union Brewery in Melbourne.
By 1854 he was in business at Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, where he had built a new brewery, distillery and malthouse. The large complex was called the Victoria Parade Brewery and a substantial business developed.
In 1862 the brewery kept sixteen horses for the transport of beer, and the malthouse was guarded from rats by an army of cats, estimated by one reporter to be about a thousand!
Following the death of Thomas Aitken in 1884 the business passed to his son, Archibald. At that time the brewery was described as being ‘one of the largest and handsomest in Victoria’.