Between 1853 and 1893 approximately 12 glass-roofed shopping arcades were built in the the colony of Victoria. Influenced by the numerous examples built in Europe from the late eighteenth century onwards, these buildings were hailed as symbols of the colony’s modernity and progress.
The majority were built in the central business district of Melbourne, but some also appeared in suburban Melbourne and regional cities. For many years Victoria was the only state to boast these forms of architecture, followed by Brisbane in the 1870s, then Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and various regional cities in the 1880s. The building of arcades in Victoria ceased after 1893, possibly due to the economic depression that affected Australia so greatly in this decade.
In the first half of the twentieth century, arcades were built all over Australia, from capital cities to small country towns; arguably they were an influence on the suburban shopping arcade and the large shopping centres of the second half of the century.
I say there were approximately 12 arcades, but I have glimpsed hints of some through newspaper reports and such for which I have little further information – and there may even have been more. If you have any further examples or know any information about the arcades listed I would love to hear from you!
Today I will just leave you with a short list of the nineteenth-century arcades of Victoria and will return to discuss them in further detail at a later stage.
Nineteenth-century Arcades in Victoria
1853 Queens Arcade, Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
1854 Victoria Arcade, Bourke Street, Melbourne
c1869 Royal Arcade, Sturt Street, Ballarat
1870 Royal Arcade, Bourke Street, Melbourne
1874 Eastern Arcade, Bourke Street, Melbourne
1876 Victoria Arcade, Bourke Street, Melbourne
1889 Prahran Arcade, Chapel Street, Prahran, Melbourne
1889 Queens Walk Arcade, Collins & Swanston Streets, Melbourne
1890 Howey Place, Little Collins Street, Melbourne
1891 Metropole Arcade, Bourke Street, Melbourne
1892 Block Arcade, Collins Street, Melbourne
c1892 Bendigo Arcade, Hargreaves Street, Bendigo (on the site of an earlier arcade?)
1893 Kings Arcade, High Street, Armadale, Melbourne
EDIT: Sadly I’ve had to strike the Kings Arcade off the list! I’ve discovered that it was actually a single block of shops until the 1920s, when it was turned into an arcade. I was doubtful that it was all nineteenth century from visiting it but this was confirmed when I visited the National Trust (Victoria) and looked at some of their files. Such a shame that now I can only say that there was one nineteenth century suburban shopping arcade in Australia – the Prahran Arcade!
ANOTHER EDIT: Or was their only one … tantalising hints are surfacing!
- 1853 Queens Arcade Lonsdale Street Melbourne
- 1854 Victoria Arcade Bourke Street Melbourne
- 1870 Royal Arcade Bourke Street Melbourne
- 1874 Eastern Arcade Bourke Street Melbourne
- 1876 Victoria Arcade Bourke Street Melbourne
- 1889 Prahran Arcade Chapel Street Prahran Melbourne
- 1889 Queens Walk Arcade Collins & Swanston Streets Melbourne
- 1890 Howey Place Little Collins Street Melbourne
- 1891 Metropole Arcade Bourke Street Melbourne
- 1892 Block Arcade Bourke Street Melbourne
- 1893 Kings Arcade High Street Armadale Melbourne
- c1869 Royal Arcade Sturt Street Ballarat
- c1892 Bendigo Arcade Hargreaves Street Bendigo