Store That Has Become
a National Institution
'EARLY SYDNEY AND THE ROMANTIC,
RISE OF ANTHONY HORDERN'S
THE story of the foundation and
growth of Anthony Horderns' is almost the story of the develop- ment of the City of Sydney and New South Wales itself. ,
For 115 years this fine business in- stitution has steadily grown, despite several severe setbacks, until to-day it has become a national institution in the New South Wales capital.
The history of this fine old house of commerce goes back to the early
days of the last century when the nascent colony was just emerging from want and the roughest of pioneering methods. The founders, and those who have kept the lamp alight ever since, have never wavered in their belief that honest dealing wins in the end.
Anthony Hordern the First
It was on August 6, 1823, that Mr. and Mr's. Anthony Hordern, senior, and their family of four children ar rived in the young colony from Eng- land. Anthony Hordern came from Staffordshire and belonged to a family celebrated for the financial abilities displayed by its members, and who conducted a banking busi- ness at Wolverhampton. Anthony Hordern the first came to Australia as a free settler with the opportunity of obtaining a free grant of land. Agricultural pursuits were not at- tractive enough to persuade him to avail himself of this grant, however, and he and his wife continued in the business they had commenced, shortly after their arrival, in King Street, on the eastern corner of Terry Lane (now known as Truth Lane). Development and the spirit of ad- venture were in the air during those early days of the infant colony, and in their midst the little King Street business grew and prospered. Started at Brickfield Hill
The younger Anthony, who was a cabinet-maker, with the enterprising spirit of his family, went, to Mel- bourne in 1839. But after five years he returned and set up in business in partnership with his brother Leb bous as drapers and haberdashers at 689 George Street, Brickfield Hill, in 1844, on the actual site of the present
Anthony Hordern and his wife re sided with their family on the premises, and it was here that Samuel senior was born in 1849. .
The progress of the firm at this time, carried on under the name "L. and A. Hordern," was rapid. George Street was, as it is today, the main road to the interior of the country, and the business on Brick-
field Hill did a flourishing trade with the men from the outback visiting the city with their loads of wool.
The bulk of the colony's trade went through the Haymarket and up the historic slope of Brick- field Hill, and the firm was be-
ginning to be recognised in the colony as.an enterprising and re-
The Haymarket Site
Early in the fifties Anthony Hor-
dern began to feel rather cramped
in his shop on Brickfield Hill and, looking round for a location in which there would be ample room for ex- pansion, he purchased a block of ground in George Street, Haymarket, which he judged would be suitable for the development of a progressive drapery business. Anthony and Leb- beus dissolved partnership in 1855, Lebbeus carrying on the business at 489 George Street,
The year 1856 witnessed the com- pletion of the new building at 557 George Street, later renumbered 756.
It was a, double-fronted substantial shop and dwelling of three storeys. Business continued to grow, and Mr. Hordern took his elder son, Anthony, into partnership, and the business was continued as A. Hordern and Sons. In 1869 the late Samuel Hor dern joined the partnership, and the
firm continued to trade under the now well-known name of Anthony Hordern and Sons.
Anthony Hordern the second died in 1876, leaving an estate estimated for probate at £ 50,000 to be divided be tween his sons and daughters.
Sons Carry On
It was at this stage that the sons, Anthony and Samuel, pushed trade
with great vigor, first erecting a new building known as The Warehouse with a handsome frontage to Parker Street, and then adding extensions which were completed in 1879.
At the time The Palace Em- porium was opened it excited universal interest among the shoppers of Sydney.
When the period of expansion commenced the two young Horderns, neither of whom was much over thirty, exhibited a degree of enter- prise and imagination that has never been excelled in the commercial an-
nals of this country. Almost week by week, as the business grew rapidly, more palatial structures were erected and new ventures were added by the organisation.
Period of Expansion
Anthony Hordern the third died in 1886, and his brother, Samuel Hordern, then took com plete control of the business which was progressing by leaps
Due to its solid foundation and wise leadership the business was able to withstand the terrific financial shock the Australian colonies sustained in 93 following the boom period. By the end of' the century the huge busi- ess had attained a magnitude much greater than any of a similar nature in Australia, and not exceeded by anything in the world at that time.
Just when Samuel Hordern's efforts to create a gigantic institution appeared to be consummated came a calamity of the first magnitude, which almost ,swept, the whole of his work out of existence.
This was the huge fire which occurred on Wednesday, July 10, 1901. Roughly. half a million pounds' worth of goods
and the mammoth stores were destroyed in less than two hours.
The palatial warehouses, wherein were served 30,000 people every day with annual sales amounting to a million and a half sterling,, were nothing more than burning ruins.
With characteristic determination and a
spirit which never admitted defeat Samuel Hordern and his executives set to work im- mediately to keep faith with the buying public.
The day following the fire the firm was established in temporary quarters at the Exhibition Building in Prince Alfred Park ready to carry on its ex- tensive business.
Within 51 days rebuilding operations had been completed and business was again being carried on at premises on the old site.
Mr. Hordern then realised that the pheno- menal growth of the business demanded plans for a wider expansion than was possible in the Haymarket area.
Return to Brickfield Hill
Accordingly a large area of land was secured on Brickfield Hill, on a small portion of which Mr. Hordern's father had com- menced business 60 years previously, and the palatial building, as wc know it to-day, was erected in 1905.
The great building, which was originally termed the new Palace Emporium has since been called "The Senior Store." Not many years were to elapse before it was found necessary to add another storey to the build ing.
Mr. Samuel Hordern died in 1909 and the business was carried on by the trustees of
the will until 1912 when it was sold to a private limited liability company with Mr., (later Sir,) Samuel Hordern Junior as gov- erning director.
In 1926 the business was sold to a public company and Sir Samuel Hordern retired from the leadershp of the great undertaking.