1. Themes
  2. A to Z

Royal Arcade

618 The oldest surviving shopping arcade in Australia and one of the landmarks of Melbourne's central retailing area, Royal Arcade, located between Bourke and Little Collins streets, just east of Elizabeth Street, was constructed in 1869-71 to a design by Charles Webb. Backing the venture were pastoralist and parliamentarian Samuel T. Staughton, his sister Martha and her barrister husband, Howard Spensley. The design was based on similar arcades in England and Europe, and on its completion it was described as 'the colonial representative' of London's famous Burlington Arcade. Behind the handsome Italianate Bourke Street fa├žade, the arcade contained 28 shops, providing a range of goods and services for the fashionable and discerning shopper. Long-term tenants included the famous Royal Turkish Baths (1870-1927) and prominent clock-maker and jeweller Thomas Gaunt & Co. (1871-1970s). A large clock bearing Gaunt's name was installed at the southern end of the arcade in 1892; on either side are the mythical giants, Gog and Magog. The Royal Arcade Annexe, leading from Elizabeth Street, was added in 1902 and designed by Hyndman & Bates. In 1958 the Royal Arcade set a record for the highest price ever paid for real estate in the central city when it was sold at auction for £541 000.

Kate Gray

See also

Staughton Place