QUERIES, COMMENTS and QUESTIONS
(most recent at the end)
Note that / denotes
a new paragraph.
me if you want your email address hotlinked. Safest email
address to use is Google, gmail.com
5th January, 2008.
Just out of curiosity, went
searching to see if anything re the connection between
Anthony Hordern's tree emblem and the Fig tree that used
to stand on the Razor Back, Camden, N.S.W. Would like
your version of the connection, if you can oblige.
and a few days later:
My understanding (and from a senior
driver with Pykes - oldest firm in Australia - both
driver & firm long gone now) was that there was only
one tree - a Morten Bay fig tree on a ridge (on the left
as one travelled south) just before descending the south
side of the Razor back range near Camden. I vaguely
recollect the story, that because the tree bore a
striking resemblance to the tree pictured with AH's trade
emblem (yes, an Oak ,I think?), AH arranged with the land
owners at the Razor Back to erect a huge, long hoarding
sign alongside bearing their motto "while I live
I'll grow". / Later, we were told that some bugger
poisoned the fig tree. It certainly had gone into sharp
decline. Think the remnants were finally cleared away
short years after.
Don Pike ... ex tourist coach driver from the 50s - 60s.
information on this subject will be gratefully received.
9th January, 2008.
My name is John Marsden and I live
on the Gold Coast. I am searching for my family history
and have come across this information regarding the
original Anthony Hordern:- On 17 July 1841 at Windsor he
had married Harriett, daughter of Samuel Marsden, tanner.
/ All my original ancestors from the 2nd Fleet up to the
1st World War were Tanners or Shoemakers or
Blacksmiths-perhaps all 3 together. / Samuel came out on
the 2nd Fleet and had a son Samuel born on Norfolk Island
in 1910. I am NOT related to The Reverend Samuel
Marsden-my Sam was a private in the NSW Corps. / Would
you know if anyone in the Hordern Family is searching
their Family History? / If you do, could you please
forward this email to them as we may be able to assist
Thank you, John Marsden [ 0416
150242 ] http://www.john-marsden.com/
who can help John should contact him via his web site.
I visited your lovely page to job my
memory on Anthony Hordern's, and it did! / What I was
trying to remember was the Xmas display in the 40's after
the war when my mother took my brother and I to see the
Xmas parade down George Street with Santa in his sleigh
on the back of a truck. I always believed that THIS was
the real Santa Claus, and then in the grotto, sweating in
high summer with a thousand other mothers and children,
shuffling through the "caves" to find Santa
again and tell him what we wanted for Xmas. Anthony Hordern's had the real Santa. / I had hoped to find a
reference to Santa and the Xmas display, which in my day
was not spaceships it was a long tunnel with mechanical elves and fairies in papier-mache... and hot as hell in
there, before air conditioning! But then my younger
brother worked out the Santa lie in 1950 and it ended for
us. / As for the tree on the razorback, the article is
exactly right. I actually thought it was an oak tree,
because it was a dead-ringer for the A-H tree (at a
distance). All I can add is that it died around the time
that Anthony Hordern's closed its doors... what a shame.
anyone add anything as regards the Santa display?
Thank you so much for your web page. It gladdens my
(ageing) heart to read about those long gone days of my
youth, in Sydney, when Anthony Hordern's was a thriving
department store. / How lovely of you to dedicate a page
to your friends. / I'm wondering if you know more about
the Anthony Hordern's oak tree? / My sister and I grew up
at West Pennant Hills. Our father built our house / in
1936, with what materials he could get, during the Great
Depression. / This modest house still stands - renovated,
but not dissimilar from its original state. / To get to
the point - Mum planted an oak tree out the front. I
believe it was one of many seedlings (or even acorns?)
Anthony Hordern's gave away to commemorate one of their
significant milestones. / The oak tree is now huge. My
sister recently photographed it, and the old house, and
emailed copies to me. / Neither of us can remember when
Mum planted the tree, but we think perhaps about 1950. /
I do remember their "While I live, I'll Grow"
motto. / I'd love to know what year Anthony Hordern's
distributed those seedlings or acorns and what it was
commemorating. Can you help?
Warm regards, Robyn
anyone shed light on Robyn's query?
Hi, My name is Rachael Smith and I
was recently told a story of my grandfather visiting this
building and the wonder filled him with joy, he only
visited it once as he lived in a small town outside of
Orange. He visited this building because he was told a
story of love and drunkenness misfortune. The story
starts with a stable hand in Cornwall who fell in love
with the wealthy land owners only daughter. Their love
was forbidden so after a year they both eloped to
Australia. On the way over they married and started a new
life assuming a different name. Upon knowing some family
here they acquired a large amount of land in Sydney. Only
to hit some troubles did the young man hit the bottle
pretty hard, and falling on harder times had to sell his
land. He sold this land for a bottle of rum to Anthony Hordern. / As I now know how much land he owned I wonder
if the story is true. So do you have any advice on how I
could find out how Anthony Hordern acquired the land? Also
I am told that it was believed that the family was
cursed, and this had something to do with the tree that
is part of their emblem. I can't remember exactly as my
grandfather has now passed on. But when Anthony passed on
so did the tree, well that what I was told.
Any help would be appreciated...
Cheers, Rachael Smith...
P.S I would have loved to seen the
emporium, is sounded wonderful, every child fantasy...
message below, from Wen.
Hi, I was researching the AH motto.
'While I live, I grow' and found something useful on your
site (re Camden fig tree I vaguely remember), so thanx!
One of your correspondents Robyn, was wondering if the
seedling for a now mighty oak might have come from AH -
well, according to info on www.sydneyarchitecture.com (search for Anthony Hordern's thereon) it may well have as they did give away
hundreds of oak seedlings to mark their centenary
(corroborated from another source too).
Cheers, Wen Dyson
Was delighted to read Wen Dyson's
entry about the oak seedlings. From my reading of the
Sydney Architecture site Wen cited, It seems my mother
obtained one of the thousands of seedlings Anthony
Hordern's gave away in
1938. She must have planted it the same year, two years
after Dad built our house. / Thank you, Wen, for this
info and thank you, John, for creating the Anthony Hordern site.
Warm regards, Robyn (Melbourne)
Great memories of Anthony Hordern's
in the 50's! My Mother used to take me as a child into
town and we always visited the store. / We lived in
Waverley (Sydney) and we would catch the tram from the
corner of Arden and MacPherson Streets. Those were the
days where you dressed up because you were 'going into
town'. I loved the tram rides and I would always see a
Fire Engine racing down Elizabeth Street! I can remember
Mum having morning tea in the store and I still have a
Dinky Toy red bus with the Anthony Hordern's sticker and
price of 7/6 on it! / They were wonderful days and it's a
great shame that the building was demolished. / Long live
Regards, Keith Morris >>
for your message, Keith. I have a photo of a tram turning
into Goulburn from Pitt St which I'll soon be loading to
the site. I'm envious of your Dinky red bus, as I had one
and sadly sold it years ago, mint boxed, for $3.50.:(
Wish I'd kept it.
Hi John, it may be of interest to
you that in 1988-89 I made a 48 minute documentary film
on AH with my colleague Mark Stiles. The film is titled
"Universal Provider." In the
process of extensively researching for the film we
discovered approximately 80 glass plate negatives of the
building and its construction, photographs taken by
Arthur Foster. The State Library of NSW has an extensive
collection of Foster images. / The film may still be
available through the Australian Film Commission. It is
in the State Library collection if you wanted to view it
Regards, Mark Jackson
to hear from you, Mark. Maybe you can fill us in as to
how you came to do the documentary, and any anecdotes,
etc., which you can recall.
26th June, 2008
I have many stories associated with doing the research
for the film, as well as insights into the history of the
firm and the family. Your initiative with the web site is
excellent. If you do manage to visit the State Library
make sure you look at the Hordernian magazine collection.
This was a valuable source for our research. There is
also a book published on the family, though you are
probably familiar with it. / If you do get a chance to
see the film I'd be pleased to get your response. It won
a documentary film award when screened in Melbourne at
the annual documentary film festival in 1988 (I think).
It was reviewed on ABC radio at the time, though I am not
aware of print reviews. The film had a public release at
the Chauvel Cinema (AFI Cinema) in Paddington as well as
in Adelaide. It has been screened in NZ and in various
places in the USA.
Hi, I was looking thru your site regarding Camden and
thought I'd let you know that tree at the old home was
used AH. Our badges had the tree and our name on them. I
worked at West Ryde shop and was about 15 at the time. I
would go to city with the delivery driver and drop off
goods and pickup others for delivery out west.
Regards, R Willett
to hear from you, Robert. We'd be happy to hear more!
I am researching my family tree; a ggaunt [?] who worked
as cook for the Hordern family. Her name was Bridgette
Hannah Doherty. I have an old recipe book with an address
sticker for Retford Hall, Darling Harbour. This has been
demolished. I do have a couple of photos of it though. I
used to love going to town at Christmas to visit santa
and the displays in the shop. If anyone is interested in
photos I will e mail them. If anyone knows if there is
any sort of employee list or suggestions on how I could
find more information.
... another thing on the trip to Sydney and I'm thinking
in the same area as the tree was a big globe situated on
the left side going north. In a paddock grey in colour, a
few people say this sounds familiar ...
for your letter Jillian. Hopefully someone will come up
with an answer as regards the GLOBE.
Anthony Hordern's Palace Emporium page on "Sydney
Ian and John,
I enjoyed the pages very much. Ian, did you keep a diary
or go into a hypnotic trance to remember all that stuff?
The "The occasion also saw my very first paid
overtime" really knocked me out".
From Wade & Mandy
We recently purchased a fairly large horse made of
Bakelite and mounted on a swing stand. We are told that
this "rocking horse" was purchased from Anthony
Hordern & Sons in 1938 by people from the NSW Central
West. In the course of researching this rocking horse, we
have been told that it may actually be either a rocking
horse or a carousel type horse, some of which were
displayed through the Anthony Hordern & Sons store
led us to your site and we wonder of yourself or any
former employees or customers of AH & Sons might have
information or recollections about this particular piece
of history. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Newcastle many years ago I bought a horse that
sounds like this one and I'm stumped to find any
information on it. I would be interested to find out if
we have the same horse. email@example.com
From Adj Ellis
It is shame to see such an amazing building gone. I have
no memories of such a building as I am only 22 and as a
child would have been distracted by other things in the
city. After stumbling across this site it makes me sad to
think that such a dominant building and a piece of
Sydney's history is gone forever. Taken at the whim of
the developer who made millions of dollars off the site
and couldn't spare a few bucks to at least keep the
façade. / As a student studying Urban Planning at the
University of New South Wales it is things like this that
make me want to try hard to keep buildings like these in
the future. I would hate for any other buildings to be
lost like some of those that are already demolished to my
disgust in the Brewery Site redevelopment in Broadway. I
worry about other buildings like the White Bay power
station too. New buildings can be integrated with old
buildings. This ensures progress is not halted while
history is still retained. Why don't they do this with
more buildings? Because the State is run by
unsophisticated politicians who are tied to developers. /
I am not going to become a maniac planner who denies
applications for children's swings or a new clothes line
in someone's yard but the fate of Sydney's history should
NEVER be decided by politicians who HAVE NO planning
skills (which require some common sense which rarely
politicians seems to have + a five year degree in urban
planning) and especially not developers who are out for
because the AH building was in a then unfashionable part
of the city, south of the CBD, there was almost nothing
put into print at the time of demolition. I believe that
in part, it was a sacrifice to maintaining a number of
facades in the Haymarket region, and even helped towards
the saving and restoration of both the Capitol Theatre,
and the QVB. Others way disagree, but as someone who
worked closeby for over 20 years and knew many of the
businesses and shopkeepers in the immediate area, I'm
sure there's more than a grain of truth in that thought!
Which reminds me that the most memorable story which came
out of the Pitt Street frontage was the running battle
for custom between two barbershops.
From The Futcher Family
What a wonderful site full of memories to me. / My late
grandfather worked at AH in the 1930s-60s as a window
dresser. / I wish I had listened more to his wonderful
stories about his time there. / It makes me sick to the
stomach seeing all our heritage, both family and building
wise, gone. Where this grand building once stood is now
an eye sore.
for your comments, Barbara.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Janene)
Read your posting on .. and thought Id let you know my
Grandfather, Herbert Leonard Hill worked at Anthony Hordern's Dept store on Broadway [that
may have been Grace Brothers - J], Sydney around the
period 1935. He worked as a window dresser with his
brother (Clifford James Hill) for years before returning
to work at Haysmere foundry in Marrickville.
I am not sure of exact dates, etc, but we do know he
spent quite a few years there working as a window dresser
along side his brother.
Gold Coast QLD
Hi, was reading your AH&S info on the net. I have
some catalogues and visitors book. My father and mother
were employees and I myself when I was on school holidays
(1969) in the toy dept. My father Norman Nicoll was the
head cash register mechanic at Brickfield Hill. He
invented a simple conversion system for the machines
while in their employ. William Knight, and David Brown
(apprentice] were his staff. I would imagine the material
I have may be worth something, what do you think? Enjoyed
reading your info, well done. Peter Nicoll
AH-related ephemera is now popular. Best place to sell is
I have just found your web site. I have no real memories
of the building, other than I attended the building to
sit an exam for the Commonwealth Bank in 1972, when I was
leaving school. / I also remember the donut shop at
Wynyard. When I was young, we lived at Erskineville, and
a big treat for us was a train trip to the city. We
always got off at Wynyard, and walked up that particular
ramp - could not resist stopping to buy a nice warm
cinnamon donut. / Ah, when things were a lot simpler and
for your memories, Paul. I always feel a warm glow when
anyone mentions the donut shop. Sadly, I can no longer
eat such goodies.
From: email@example.com (Mike Crofts)
As part of my researches into my family tree, I got hold
of a letter dated June 1884 in which my great-great uncle
Arthur Wilson describes his life in Australia and one
paragraph (see below) contains information on his work at
Anthony Hordern and Sons. / I would be grateful if you
could tell me if there is any way that I could get
further information on my uncle and his time at AH &
Sons. / Would there be any records kept of the 1884
employees and if so who would have them? I read somewhere
that Waltons had taken over AH and then they themselves
closed down around 1870. / At the time of writing the
letter his address was :
1 Astor Terrace,
33 Collins Street,
I hope you can help.
am also glad to tell you that I am getting on well in
Australia and only regret not coming out here five years
sooner instead of wasting my best time at home. Messrs.
Anthony Hordern and Sons have treated me well and have
given me every encouragement to do well. They are pretty
hard masters to deal with and one wants to be pretty
attentive to succeed. I was there about nine months when
they advanced me telling me that they were well satisfied
and that they would soon advance me still further if they
found me paying attention to Business and looking after
the interests of the Firm in general, and about 6 months
ago they asked me to go on the Floor as Shopwalker and
take charge of about 100 Men which I did and getting
along all right. I was rather unsettled in taking the
last billet as Shopwalking as they have had five in the
same situation in the last 2 years and all have got
discharged so I was thinking they might do the same with
me but so far as I have gone they seem satisfied with me
but still I might get the run any day. The salary is much
better than behind the counter but the work is much more
tiresome and much more responsibility connected with it.
I am at much more expense for Dress. I have to wear a
Black Dress Suit every day (Frock Coat). 2 suits a year
will do but each Suit costs us about £10. I have to go
to the best tailor and get it well made. I have to dress
in a first class way, still, they pay me well for all the
extra expense if I only can manage to please them as
Shopwalker I can make a good screw in the twelve months
if spared and well."
-- Mike Crofts
You could contact the NSW State Archives at Kingwood, NSW
(online) and the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney (online). They
may be of some help, or someone reading the above may
contact you direct.
From firstname.lastname@example.org (Marie de Graaf)
I enjoyed reading your visitors comments as they
brought back a lot of memories of that time thank
you for your interesting site.
I have two links to Anthony Horderns.
My great grandfather, Henrik Wilhelm Rüssel (born in
Denmark and possibly known as Henry William in Australia)
had his dental surgery and home at 147 Elizabeth Street,
Sydney, in the late 1800s & early 1900s. My
grandmother told us that Anthony Hordern (and his family)
was a patient and friend of her father.
My elder sister, Linda Jones (ka Fay and now in her 70s),
worked as a secretary at Anthony Hordern's during the
1950s (definitely in 1958). I remember catching the
train to Central and walking up to see Fay in her office.
She would then walk with me to the Country Platform at
Central & put me on the south coast train to travel
to holiday with my grandmother.
I am very interested in the old Anthony Building that
once stood at Goulburn Street. This building had various
levels and a basement.
As I understand it when the building was acquired in
1970, it was no longer operating as a retail store. The
retail business had closed a few years earlier and the
tail end of Anthony Hodern's Ltd had leased out the
sections. This following the demise of department store
retailing in the City, particularly in the southern
What I would like to know if you know or maybe a website
reader can enlighten, is what departments were on which
particular floors ? This building had several levels
served by lifts and big wooden escalators. Maybe somebody
can remember? Very Interested, Clothing, Hardware,
someone reading this will help out, otherwise I suggest
you try the Powerhouse Museum's library which contains
copies of early store catalogues which should be of help.
I remember in the 50's going up to Anthony Hordern's each
Saturday morning with Mum and Dad after we had been to
the markets in Ultimo. It was a grand old building, and
have many childhood memories going there. One Saturday
Dad entered a competition in the paint department to win
a painting. There was a bloke painting a bush scene, but
could not see the painter as he had his back to me. To
cut a long story short Dad won the painting, and I still
have it today. I still don't know who the painter is as
he did not sign the painting. Mum use to take me to see
Santa Clause each Christmas and the Hordern's tree near
Camden was on our list, as the first to spot as we
travelled south in dad's Chevy with my two brothers and
four sisters in the back. I loved going to Anthony Hordern's, because after that I would buy hot jam donuts
(best I have ever had) from a van in George Street just
up from Anthony Hordern's.
Thankyou for the memories.
for your memories, Ian.
One addition to your great Hordern's site - the library
of the Historic Houses Trust of NSW, known as the
Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, holds
more Anthony Hordern & Sons catalogues than any other
public institution (more than the Powerhouse, State
Library of NSW and National Library of Australia). The
State Library of NSW, however, has the earliest known
catalogue: 1884, and also some other wonderful photos
etc. The HHT library collection is far from all
encompassing but we do hold general catalogues for the
1894, 1900, 1907, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1923, 1928, 1930,
1932, 1935, 1948, 1950, 1955, 1962-63, 1963-64
addition, we hold a number of Hordern's catalogues for
specific groups of items eg 1911 furniture catalogue,
1913 builders ironmongery catalogue.
of the HHT library's specialties is trade catalogues to
do with the history of houses, interiors and gardens. In
other words, we have a number of catalogues, both
Australian and foreign from the 1820s to the present day
- we hold catalogues for other Sydney department stores
(Mark Foys Marcus Clark, David Jones etc), furniture
stores (Bebarfalds, Beard Watson, WW Campbell etc),
ironmongers (Lassetters, Holdsworth Macpherson etc),
hardware stores (Nock & Kirby etc) etc etc.
library catalogue is on-line - go to http://collection.hht.net.au ; and the library is
open to the public Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Unlike
the Powerhouse library, you DO NOT have to make a
booking. However, if you intend to do some serious
research we recommend you phone in advance (8239.2233) or
email (email@example.com) to make sure the library is
not too busy with tour groups etc. The library is located
in the heart of the city, so easy access to public
transport: The Mint, 10 Macquarie Street Sydney.
also have a modest on-line exhibition about Sydney's
furnishing stores on the HHT website - the Anthony
Hordern & Sons story can be found here
. Also - the
Historic Houses Trust library is still actively
collecting Anthony Hordern catalogues and other ephemera.
Two excellent sources on Anthony Hordern & Sons and
the Hordern family
1. Thomas J. Redmond, The history of Anthony Hordern and
Sons Limited: Hordernian Monthly - January 1938 :
Australia's 150th anniversary number, 1938 (there is also
a 1932 edition)
2. Lesley Hordern, Children of one family: the story of
Anthony and Ann Hordern and their descendants in
Australia, 1825-1925, 1985
Michael Lech | Assistant Curator
Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection
HISTORIC HOUSES TRUST OF NEW SOUTH WALES
The Mint 10 Macquarie Street | Sydney NSW 2000
Michael. If I only had the time to visit your library.
Hopefully the above will encourage other researchers.
From Greg Ray
Further to Hordern's oak tree, here is a snippet from the
July 1938 issue of the Hordern's staff journal, The
"Anthony Hordern's Centenary British oak trees have
travelled far and wide over the land to careful planting
on reaching their destination. Only the other weekend at
Long Jetty, Tuggerah, a member of the staff espied one
unexpectedly in her friend's garden and felt quite at
home. The little tree looked quite healthy.
"Just as she was admiring it, her attention was
drawn to a very large man armed with an enormous spade,
who was followed by a little woman, evidently his better,
if smaller, half. There was purpose in his gait and in
the way he brandished the spade. Our friend watched the
proceedings with all curiosity inherited from Eve. Judge
of her amusement when he produced in his other hand the
familiar tiny earthenware pot containing one of the oak
trees, just as it had appeared on the selling table, Pitt
Street Ground Floor.
"We hope it will, in time, grow into a sturdy tree,
and serve to remind future generations of the great store
from whence it came."
31st August, 2010
Ex employee of Anthony Hordern's
I worked in the Gift Circle in the late 50's and was one of the Charleston Dancers for the roaring twenty's week in 1963. My name was Kathy Potts known as Cookie. I have paper clippings of that twenty's week. I was the Easter Bunny at some stage not sure of the year. Do you have any old photos that I can view around the late 50's early 60's. Those years were the best years working for Anthony
Hordern's it was like a big family.
I have been living in Darwin for nearly 40 years and since moving back to NSW have caught up with some old friends of mine that also worked at Anthony
Hordern's as well.
Can't make the reunion this year but hopefully next year.
23rd October, 2010
I was in my garden weeding around my trees and while under my oak tree I suddenly remembered the Hordern tree and the logo. So after a cuppa I did a Google and voila! I came upon your site. I have clear memories, from the ‘50s, of driving from our house in Padstow (then in the furthest flung suburbs of Sydney) to see the Hordern's tree and to visit the rotolactor, which was nearby. Now that was a day’s outing!! Fresh air and fresh milk! Packed into our old 1938 Vauxhall (US868, I still remember), parents bickering in the front seat, us kids in the back playing “I spy” or fighting over who was going to get the cards from the Atlantic service station. We never made it anywhere without the car boiling. Those English old cars were never made to withstand Australian summers. So a day’s trip was always a long day’s trip. And as for the store in Brickfield Hill. Oh, the delights a kid could find there! I’m sure you could have been lost in there and never found again! And Santa’s cave!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahh, memories of a simpler, less hurried time.
Good memories, Greg. My first trip after I had
my licence was to the rotolactor, back in the mid-60s. Photo here.
26th October, 2010
Have just discovered your web page ... great memories there for me. I was so saddened when I revisited Sydney in the early 70's to see that grand AH building reduced to a parking station. As a youngster in the late 50's, I worked in Margaret Street in the City and Wynyard was my station ... I clearly remember the donut shop ... with the cooker in the window ... threepence for a hot donut and fourpence for a cold iced one.
Thanks for the memories.
Good to hear from you, Garry. I walked down the
Wynyard ramp a couple of weeks ago and recalled those donuts!
31st October, 2010
I've just been listening to Macca on the ABC, when a lady mentioned a fire at Anthony
Hordern's, which was news to me so I thought I'd investigate and am I glad I
did. What a terrific site. This was an unforgettable building both inside and out, something completely foreign to latter day
architects, politicians and developers and I'd be interested to know how it compared in size to the London and New York stores.
Your description of being outfitted for boarding school fits mine exactly save the
boater, I had a felt Akubra before heading off to Goulburn in 1952.The manager of the Boys/Youth
Dept., name of Lach McLaren I think, helped us with the gear, he had been at the same school with my Dad.
The note about spending time at the newsreels, another sad loss for
Sydney, also jogged my memory. Whenever I had some time to kill, which wasn't hard in those
days, I'd also sit through more than one session, and this turned out to be an interesting lesson in the way different people react to the same
material. One group would laugh their heads off at the Three Stooges and Pete Smith
Specials, the next barely a murmur. Incredible.
5th March, 2011
It’s Saturday afternoon and I was thinking about Christmas as a child in Sydney in the 1950’s. It was the most exciting time of the year as my mother would take us to Anthony
Hordern's to see the caves and Santa. I’ve thought of them often over the years and wish that my small grandchildren now could see them as we did them and remember the thrill. These days animation is not unusual but then it was magic and I can remember being right in there with the stories in the caves. I loved the fairies and how things moved—it was simply magic!
I remember going into Sydney dressed in our finest Sunday School clothes with little straw hat and upturned brim and with flowers in the brim, white gloves and shoes. It was a much celebrated outing going into Sydney by train.
My sister was born four years after me in January 1954 and to celebrate dad caught the train into Anthony
Hordern's to a ‘sale’ and brought home a wonderful doll with ‘flirty eyes’ and a wedding dress. I thought I was made and still treasure her—I called her Gwenda as that was my favourite name and one
I wanted to be called!! It has always been a mystery to me as she has been aged to have been made in about 1934-36 but dad bought her in 1954. I wonder what her story is between those years. She was definitely new and in a box when dad bought her home.
The memory I treasure as much is every Christmas my nana Anslow would get up after Christmas lunch, fold her hands and recite ‘Anthony
Hordern's Fire’. It was what seemed to me at the time a long poem and even as nana aged into forgetfulness she could always recite the poem. I’ve search and search too find it. Does anyone know it and would be prepared to email me it.
Thanks for the great memories. I’m about to email the link to my dad who can just use a computer for him and my mum to read.
Thanks for your very interesting recollections,
26th October, 2011
My grandfather, Frank (Russell) Peck was a gardener at the Estate.
Family legend has it that he designed the rose garden and maze. He was
very English - coming from Leiston Suffolk England. A few gardeners in
family. Mary Hordern designed an "English" garden; I wonder if there is
any info, docos, photos that pertain to Frank... I believe he may have
lived on the Estate in a cottage with wife, Martha; children: Will, Russ
and my dad John Harold Robert. / Also, when I was 9 in about 1960; my
parents gave me a party at Anthony Hordern's...are there any photos of
such events? There was a show & I had to go on stage. My Uncle Russ was
the only sign writer/ silk screener in Bowral for years and he may have
done work at the Estate - i.e., signs etc when it was King Ranch.
Martine (Peck) Russell
Thanks for your message; there are sure to be
photos of children's parties in Sydney archives but so far I've not
sighted any. All I can suggest is you do regular Google image searches
20th March, 2012
Hi; as a mad model railroader I was creating a multi story model
building and looking for a name to place on it. I thought of Anthony
Hordern's, and so looking for the name in print so that I could
faithfully depict it on the building I came upon your site, and what
interesting reading it was from all those that had some connection with
AH. I also as a young chap was dressed up and taken to town on those
special occasions from our home at Maroubra and I also remember the
Christmas displays for us kids, but whilst in the RAAF and based in
Wagga we would drive past the big tree on the razorback range, but it
was when I was stationed at Richmond that I was sent in around 1956 or 7
to a course in Uranquinty and I travelled down with a mate in his car,
one John Shippard who’s father was head stockman at Anthony Hordern's
model farm at Culcairn. It was called Roundhills so we went and stayed
there for a few days. What a magnificent place it was. The animals were
the best that could be found, the yards were all created in the round
with the centre being a round covered building ( show building ) the
centre of the wheel being an exercise or show walking ring with flower
bed and fountain in the centre hub, from the covered building all the
open paddocks fences went out as spokes to the outer perimeter fence and
all fencing painted white. This arrangement was for all the different
animals. What a place; on the property were a few early colonial
buildings (massive places) but Mr. Hordern and his wife lived in a low
set home surrounded with a high hedge, and as Mr Hordern was unable to
walk all the vehicles on the farm, including all the biggest were fitted
with hand controls so that he could drive and work them all.
I have on a number of occasions when passing the area tried to find
Roundhills but have been unable to do so.
4th April, 2012
Thank you for a really enjoyable website. What a wonderful trip down
memory lane! My great aunt, Miss Addie Gildea, worked for AH from 1921
till her retirement in 1957 in the Glove department. She ended up as
head buyer for gloves travelling overseas twice, 1947 & 1949, to
Switzerland, Italy and England - an amazing achievement for a woman in
I remember visiting the glove department as a young child in the 50's
and sitting up at the counter, elbow on velvet cushion, being fitted for
gloves. Each finger was smoothed on - no yanking of the glove! I also
remember the Christmas caves and having a birthday party in the
19th May, 2012
I am delighted to have come across this site. Perhaps my reminiscences
will be of some interest to your readers.
I well remember that magnificent building that AH's was. In the summer
holidays of 1963 and 1964, I worked as an office boy in Hordern
Brothers' mid-city store, and had to take some mysterious paper work to
a certain place in a vast office in the AH building on Brickfield Hill.
One entered by a lane, used by trucks, off George Street and I had to go
up a flight or two of stairs before coming to his enormous chamber,
filled with desks and clerks. I had to wend my way to a certain stern
lady, who grimly took the delivery from me. I suppose they were the
receipts from the affiliate store. Walking along George Street in those
days was a fascinating experience for a young fellow like me. I recall
the amount of construction that was going on in those days. They were
building the SCC (Sydney County Council) building just opposite St.
Andrew's Cathedral. Once, I took time and explored some of the AH
building. There seemed to be endless corridors and vast, empty areas.
The ceilings were very high and it had a rather forlorn atmosphere,
musty and neglected. I regret I never saw it in its heyday: it must have
been magnificent. What a loss for posterity, that little, if any, film
of those magnificent department stores exists. Think of how many there
were: Farmers, Mark Foys, Grace Brothers, Fletcher Jones in the QVB,
Hordern's Mid city, Snow's, Gowings, H.G Palmer's and many others whose
names I can no longer remember, not to mention DJ's, Lowes and others
which still remain. Farmers', in particular, was beautiful. The
elevators were magnificent and I don't understand why they were not kept
as a feature for subsequent generations to admire. What has replaced it
is barren and devoid of character. Downstairs, via the Market Street
entrance, was a barber shop with at least four extravagantly decorated
barber's chairs. It was marble-lined and really something to see.
I recall the Hobbyco shop opposite AH's and I could often be seen
lurking there after hours, gazing in the window at the marvellous
displays of models of all kinds. Downstairs I would spend my pocket
money on Meccano parts, my passion in those days.
I once tried to interest a noted ABC radio journalist to do a series on
these marvellous department stores, while those who had known them and
worked there were still alive. Too late now. The same I could say about
the magnificent enterprise that was the NSW Government Railways. I also
worked in Eveleigh and Chullora at these vast establishments. Why
weren't films made of the workings of these places while there was the
chance? It's all gone now, and will be forgotten. Cockatoo Island was
another, the Dunlop factory on the Harbour, and many other places. Our
history was not valued and now it's too late to capture it. I remember
the pleasure of exploring Sydney's many arcades, including the one
mentioned on your page with all the stamp and coin shops. Some of these
arcades were open to the sky, crooked and interesting. All on the human
scale, but demolished in the name of progress and Harry Seidler's
buildings. Well, I find Sydney a barren and sterile place these days by
comparison. Thank heavens they retained the QVB. Developers and
government wanted to demolish it. Imagine! I was saddened to see AH's
turned into a car park in its latter years, but the facade still drew
the eye and elicited wonder.
Well, you may like to edit this down, or not use it at all. The point
is, there were business empires then that would rival many we have
today. The cost of building such places and the employment they offered
John Pokorny, Bunbury WA
Thanks for your informative and entertaining
recollections, John. Should you have any more, I'd be happy to read
13th June, 2012
I know that back in 1999-2000 there was a new (oak) tree
planted, I was there on the morning that the tree was planted. Today I
visited the Tree, and I was amazed that it had grown. I’m also pleased
to see that no vandalism has happened to it, as with the old tree. Would
you be able to let me know the exact date that this particular tree was
planted? I was the truck driver that bought the tree to the ceremony and
also placed it in the ground using the hiab on my truck. I often think
about that tree, especially when people tell me when they have travelled
the Old Hume Hwy over Razorback.
Rodney Bryon, Truck Driver
Can anyone supply Rod with the date?
31st January, 2014
I remember it well as a small child in the 1960s. It was a massive place
which sold anything you wanted.
I remember when I was about 7 years old I had my Birthday Party on one
of the floors that had an auditorium and stage.
I also remember the lift doors I think off George St. They had the old
Oak Tree moulded in to the brass doors. Those lifts would have been Otis
ones from the 1920s era.
When I worked at David Jones in the 1990s we had a lady named Iris who
had worked as a Lift Driver at AH. When the store closed she got a job
as Lift Driver at David Jones where she stayed for over 25 years.
16th September, 2014
My late father George Herbert Hawkes was involved with the
store relative to Public Relations and was a close colleague of
Frank Monro who I think was a director or GM of Horderns at the
time of its closure.
Dad was presented with a commemorative ceramic platter signed on
the back by Frank Monro - one of a kind - with the famous "While
I Live, I'll Grow" tree emblem. It is a beautiful platter and in
Thanks for the photo, Peter.
11th March, 2017
From 1962 to 1964 I worked in the summer holidays at
Hordern Brothers Mid-City Store, and in the last two of those years, in
the office, under a Mrs. Walker, a stern manager, but kindly underneath.
I used to have to take some dockets, and perhaps change, to Anthony
Hordern's at Brickfield Hill.
Opposite Hobbyco, or just a bit further down, was a service lane. I had
to walk up there, then to the left through a doorway and up a flight or
two of stairs, finally arriving at an enormous room filled with wooden
desks at which sat scores, if not hundreds, of clerks. I was sternly
asked what I wanted, and, having given the name of the woman concerned,
was shown to one desk some way in. I handed over what I had to deliver,
and received some kind of receipt. I then had to leave, and no one
I recall one time having a wander through the building through to Pitt
Street, and recall some vast, empty spaces, with high ceilings. The
staircases seemed very broad and deserted, and there was already an air
of decrepitude about the whole place. Returning a decade or so later, I
was sad to see it had become a parking station. Does my memory serve me
Anyway, in those days, George Street was a hive of industry, as there
was much new building going on. I recall them building the Sydney County
Council [SCC] building opposite St. Andrews Cathedral. Cinerama was
still operating in the Plaza Cinema, and, in fact, there were cinemas
all along George Street in those days, and in other Sydney city streets.
Glorious things they were too, like the Prince Edward Theatre.
There was a very nice lift driver called Harry who worked in the Hordern
Brothers Mid-City store. Dispatch was in the basement. That's where they
wrapped up purchases in brown paper, or perhaps their own, branded
paper, tied it around with string, and sent it off by truck. I recall
some of the names in the office: Mrs Binkhurst, known as Binkie, an
office boy called Keith Daley and a secretary called Sandra, who was
very pert. Also a young assistant by name of Camilleri. The manager of
the store was a Mr. Brown, but I called him Mr. Hordern in a nervous
moment and he was very annoyed!
Working the first time was in men's swimwear, and ever since, I have
always had the store attendants in mind, putting things back as I've
found them: I was forever having to re-stack all those swimming
costumes. There was a men's shoe department on that, the ground level,
and a side door into the Strand Arcade, across from which was a Coles
variety store. In-between, on George Street, was Nicholson's music
store, which sold everything from records, to sheet music, to
instruments to stereograms.
Sydney was a much nicer place then. I too, like the fellow above, went
looking with my Dad in the philatelist shops and numismatist shops in
the Royal Arcade, which was open to the sky. I also remember "Wierdo's",
the magic shop, in one of those arcades.
I recall those days and the great department stores with great fondness.
It was a lovely time to "go into town".#
Many thanks, John, for your
most interesting recollections.
26th June, 2022
My grandfather, James Byrne, was a French Polisher at Anthony Horderns
for many years. I sadly don’t know when his employment commenced nor
ended, but I do know he was employed all through the Depression. James
was born in Killarney, Ireland in 1885 and died in Sydney in 1942,
before I was born. I believe he was responsible for keeping the timber
banisters etc in tip top condition as well as the retailed furniture
I came across your site while trying to find if any of the staff records
were kept and available to the public. No joy there, but loved reading
some of the memories. I certainly remember going to the store as a child
with my mother who never failed to make me walk up the stairs instead of
using the lift (sorry Phil Hore), so that she could remind me of my
Thanks for your memories,
Definitive details from the 1938 celebration booklet
(which I was given for Christmas; thanks, Greg).
to this book, "... oak trees were planted at
the back of the Hordern shop on Brickfield Hill [where
the original store was located, and the third,
our Emporium], and they were adopted as
symbolic of the progress which Anthony and his
sons felt they would achieve in the world of
commerce. This was the origin of their famous
Trade Mark - The Oak Tree, with its motto: While
I live, I'll grow." You can find a photo of
the Razorback tree
location on Flickr.
Maurice, for corrections.
ALSO WANTED ON SYDNEY TOY SHOPS
employee information, catalogues) on the Sydney toy
department store of Walther and Stevenson Ltd, at 395
George Street, which operated from the 1930s to the
1970s. Also similar information on Levenson's Radio (when
they maintained their toy section) at 226 Pitt Street,
Fisher's Toy Shop at Town Hall behind their pharmacy on
George Street, and Hobbyco (prior to 1970) - Your page
OTHER LINKS and SOURCES OF INFORMATION
- Tell me of any broken links!
Picman database at State Library of NSW for Anthony Hordern & Sons. This includes
references to collections which I hope to visit and
examine, although if anyone reading this could visit the
Mitchell Library and carry out research, we'd be very
grateful. Note there is a collection of Toy Section
school holiday photos from around 1957-1958 listed, but
you can only view in person. There are copyright and not
Goulburn - Pitt Street
corner, tram from 1953
Goulburn - Elizabeth
Street, AH in distance, tram from 1954
Here Comes Santa - great
early 1920s [silent] movie clip of Santa, amid huge
crowds, arriving down George Street.
Mark's 1988 documentary, THE UNIVERSAL PROVIDER;
details at the Australian Film Commission's site.
Historic Houses Trust of
NSW Library (see letter above) catalogue - go to http://collection.hht.net.au