Anthony Hordern & Sons

Anthony Hordern & Sons was the largest department store in Sydney. With 52 acres (21 hectares) of retail space, Anthony Hordern's was also once the largest department store in the world. The business was originally established by a free immigrant from England, Anthony Hordern, in 1823, as a drapery shop. He was the founding member of the Hordern family in Australia. A further large menswear store was in upper George Street, and Hordern's also operated one of the largest mail order businesses in Australia. In 1844 Lebbeus Horden set up business as L. & A. Hordern at 689 George Street, Brickfield Hill, the site now occupied by the World Square complex. Anthony jun., his wife, and family lived above the store.

In 1856 a new three-storey Haymarket store was opened and Anthony jun. took his elder son Anthony III into partnership as Anthony Hordern and Son. On 10th July 1901 the Haymarket premises was destroyed by fire. Business was resumed almost immediately in the Exhibition Building, Prince Alfred Park, and a new building - The Palace Emporium or Senior Store - erected on the site of their original Brickfield Hill store in 1905. A further storey was added a few years later. The Palace Emporium's main entrance was completely fitted out in imported Italian marble. One of its advertising slogans was that it sold "anything from a needle to an anchor". The crest on their coat of arms was a budding tree, the motto: "While I live I'll grow". It appeared above all the store's window fittings and on all its stationery.

In April 1926 the mostly family owned business was sold to a public company set up for the purpose. By the early 1960s Anthony Hordern and Sons began to accumulate yearly losses instead of profits. By 1965-66, this had become noticeable and restructuring was underway. Most notable were the losses from the Brickfield Hill Flagship store and the Anthony Hordern store in Wollongong. A number of the upper levels of the Brickfield Hill store were closed. After the takeover of Anthony Hordern's by Walton's in January 1970, the Brickfield Hill site was then sold to Stocks and Holdings Ltd, for $8.5 million, ending 64 years of retail pioneering and ownership of the building by Anthony Hordern's Ltd.

The Anthony Hordern Brickfield Hill site, Palace Emporium, was subsequently used by the NSW Institute of Technology (now UTS) for some years. In the early 1980s the building's new owner, Singaporean based Ipoh Garden Development, planned to try to save the Anthony Hordern's building, but in the end it was found to be too costly after receiving independent advice from the CSIRO, on the state of the building's concrete and other fittings. It (and surrounding buildings) was controversially demolished in 1986 for the World Square development, which remained a hole in the ground for nearly twenty years, before finally being completed in 2004.

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