Anthony Hordern & Sons, Horderns, Hordern's, Brickfield Hill, Sydney


The Senior Store!
Page updated 19th September, 2022.

IAN'S MEMORIES including SANTA LAND and the QUEEN'S VISIT in 1954 plus bonus 1911 advertisement! | THE OAK TREE 
Razorback Tree location
Latest at the end! | PAGE DEDICATION
Postcard at top courtesy of Robert Mills | Recommended Reading
I ONCE MET A MAN WHO HAD NO LEGS….A poem by Val Wallace

Our Facebook Group
Lots of other photos!

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This page is dedicated to the late Phil Hore, who was was employed as Senior Lift Driver in charge of fourteen lift drivers at Anthony Hordern & Sons, from June 1950 to February 1961. 

Phil later worked at the DMR HO, Castlereagh Street, from 1961 until 1982. He gave me an insight into the workings of Anthony Hordern & Sons. This inspired me to seek out further information and finally to launch this page. I salute you, Phil; a dedicated, cheerful and outstanding gentleman. #

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"Everything from a hairpin to a harrow" trumpeted the advertisements and they were right. With 52 acres (21 hectares) of retail space, Anthony Hordern's was once the largest department store in the world. Gone. All gone. The cheese department with blocks of cheddar laid out on marble counters to be cut with peg and wire by an assistant in a gray dustcoat; the activity overseen by a manager whose status was declared by his black alpaca; the china department where a frisky bull would have fallen to its knees exhausted before managing to smash the hundreds of Aynsley tea sets; the myriad Shelly sandwich trays on display there. The famous milk bar; the antique department and art gallery; the boys' and youths' department where I was outfitted for a navy serge school suit and boater before being dispatched to boarding school; the curved glass display windows with bronze mullions and the store's famous oak tree symbol atop them, all gone. Sydney Morning Herald, Column 8, date n.k.



< Goulburn St W ^To North - 
Pitt St N >
Click on photos for larger images.


bc Everyone has to have a reason for spending time on an ad-free web page, don't they?. In the mid to late 1950s my dad took me into Sydney on Saturdays. How often I can't remember. We caught the red rattler (suburban electric train) at Bankstown and arrived at Wynyard Underground Station 40 minutes later. A quick walk up stairs and through the shopping arcade found us in George Street. Next door almost, a few entrances north, was the newsreel theatre. We'd spend a couple of enjoyable hours laughing at the antics of the 3 Stooges, and taking in the Cinesound and Movietone newsreels. If the entertainment was REALLY good, we'd sit part way through the next session (sessions were continuous). Occasionally we'd walk back down George Street to Town Hall Station, visiting the stamp shops in the Royal Arcade. More often we'd board the tram for a quick trip to the recently opened Circular Quay high-level station and gaze out over the harbour if it was a nice day. Very rarely we'd treat ourselves to a longer tram trip to the southern end of George Street. This brought us to Railway Square and Central Station. Half way down George Street and opposite Hobbyco (before that hobby shop moved) was the mighty ANTHONY HORDERN EMPORIUM (as it was generally called back then). A vague memory lingers in my mind, of entering AH up a long escalator on George Street, just up from Goulburn Street. Even vaguer, I recall going there before Christmas with my mum one year and 'riding' a space ship, in the toy department. It was like something out of a 50s SF movie. We were escorted inside by a uniformed lady, sat down, the lights dimmed, and images of planets and stars whizzed by 'outside' as we looked out the portholes. It was all very magical for a young lad! Did I mention the wonderful fresh donuts from the Wynyard Ramp cake shop? bc



The wallpaper is taken from a scan of an AH design found on the 1912 Christmas book catalogue.

Photos were taken in 1983-5 by myself. The photo to the right shows the Pitt Street entrance stairs to the basement. It was a long way down!

Details wanted of the Anthony Hordern's Ex-Employees Re-unions.

LINKS, below as well.

DMR Sydney, details on the Department of Main Roads Head Office Block, bounded by Goulburn, Castlereagh, Campbell and Pitt Streets, Sydney. Details on the staff and times, with special attention to the period 1965 - 1989.
Sydney Toy and Hobby Shops  
Related links welcomed.

Hosted by CB&M, Blue Mountains, NSW.




QUERIES, COMMENTS and QUESTIONS (most recent at the end)
Note that / denotes a new paragraph.
Tell me if you want your email address hotlinked. Safest email address to use is Google,
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.
All 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 each other.
Thank you
, John Marsden [ 0416 150242 ]
Anyone who can help John should contact him via his web site.

11th March, 2008.
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.
Can anyone add anything as regards the Santa display?

20th March, 2008
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,
Can anyone shed light on Robyn's query?

15th April, 2008
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...
, Rachael Smith...
I would have loved to seen the emporium, is sounded wonderful, every child fantasy...
See message below, from Wen.

13th May, 2008
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 (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).
, Wen Dyson

15th May, 2008
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)

23rd May, 2008
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 our memories!
Keith Morris >>
Thanks 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.

20th June, 2008
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 there.
, Mark Jackson
Great 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.
Regards, Mark

12th September, 2008
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
Nice to hear from you, Robert. We'd be happy to hear more!

25th October, 2008
Hi; 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.
Anne Levonis

21st November, 2008
From Jillian
... 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 ...
Thanks for your letter Jillian. Hopefully someone will come up with an answer as regards the GLOBE.

30th January, 2009
From Kerry
Anthony Hordern's Palace Emporium page on "Sydney Architecture Images":
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".

1st February, 2009
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 (emporium). Google
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.
Here's a response.
In 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.

6th February, 2009
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 profit.
Sadly, 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.

4th June, 2009
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.
Thanks for your comments, Barbara.

17th July, 2009
From: (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.
Kindest regards
Gold Coast QLD

1st August, 2009
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
Any AH-related ephemera is now popular. Best place to sell is on eBay.

6th August, 2009
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 easy.
Paula Williams
Thanks for your memories, Paul. I always feel a warm glow when anyone mentions the donut shop. Sadly, I can no longer eat such goodies.

7th August, 2009
From: (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.
Mike Crofts

"I 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.

26th September, 2009
From (Marie de Graaf)
I enjoyed reading your visitor’s 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 1950’s (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.
- Marie

18th November, 2009
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 precinct.
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, specialties etc.
Kind Regards,
David Hunt
Maybe 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.

8th January, 2010
From Ian
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.
Ian Davies,
Logan, QLD.
Thanks for your memories, Ian.

22nd January, 2010
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 following years:
1894, 1900, 1907, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1923, 1928, 1930, 1932, 1935, 1948, 1950, 1955, 1962-63, 1963-64

In addition, we hold a number of Hordern's catalogues for specific groups of items eg 1911 furniture catalogue, 1913 builders ironmongery catalogue.

One 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.

Our library catalogue is on-line - go to ; 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 ( 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.

We 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.

Some reading?
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
The Mint 10 Macquarie Street | Sydney NSW 2000
Thanks, Michael. If I only had the time to visit your library. Hopefully the above will encourage other researchers.

May, 2010
Greg Ray
Further to Hordern's oak tree, here is a snippet from the July 1938 issue of the Hordern's staff journal, The Hordernian.
"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."
Thanks, mate.

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.
Kathy Pollard

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.
Garry Kerr
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.
Peter Phelan 

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, Glynnis.

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 for photos.

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 those days.
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 cafeteria.
Many thanks,
Julie Taylor

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 were remarkable.
Best wishes,
John Pokorny, Bunbury WA
Thanks for your informative and entertaining recollections, John. Should you have any more, I'd be happy to read them.

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.
Bruce O'Toole

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 mint condition.
Peter Hawkes

Thanks for the photo, Peter.


11th March, 2017

John Pokorny's Memories

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 smiled!

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 correctly?

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 items.

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 granddad’s handiwork.

Kind regards,
Barbara Schofield

Thanks for your memories, Barbara.

Definitive details from the 1938 celebration booklet (which I was given for Christmas; thanks, Greg).

According 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.

If you have any queries on the above, email John at

Acknowledgements: Maurice, for corrections.

ANYTHING (photos, 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 editor

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 available online.

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



  Page dedicated to my two late mates from the DMR, and ex-AH employees, 
Phil Hore and John from the front counter at 309 Castlereagh Street.