1. Themes
  2. A to Z

Buckley & Nunn

Buckley's was a prominent department store. Irish-born Mars Buckley arrived in Victoria in 1851 with goods he sold on the goldfields. He then opened a store in Bourke Street, and with partner English-born Crumpton Nunn established Buckley & Nunn as one of Melbourne's biggest retailers. When Nunn died in England in 1891, Buckley sold the business to Robert Reid, and it later became a public company. In 1920-22 an emporium designed by Bates, Peebles & Smart was built in Baroque Revival style at 310 Bourke Street (later occupied by David Jones) and became a significant element in the retail streetscape. In 1934 a new Men's Store opened next door at 294-296 Bourke Street. Designed by architects Bates, Smart & McCutcheon in Jazz Modern style, the building won the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects' Street Architecture Medal as an exemplary modern design. The fa├žade featured terracotta panels showing men in sports, casual and evening wear, while the store's lifts and decorative lift surrounds were fine examples of Art Deco style. Buckley & Nunn later opened branches in several Melbourne suburban shopping centres, but in 1982, Sydney-based retailer David Jones Ltd acquired the company and rebranded the stores. Some linguists have offered the company name as a plausible eponym for the phrase 'Buckley's chance' ('Buckley's and none', i.e. next to no chance).

Brian Carroll