Yesterday I was briefly discussing the Anthony Hordern “While I Live, I’ll Grow” tree with some friends and I promised I would do a Bytes on it today. It occurs to me that, today, few people would know of it so it is worth recalling and recording . . .
- In 1823 free immigrant from England, Anthony Hordern, founding member of the Hordern family in Australia, established a drapery shop in Sydney. A large menswear store and one of the largest mail order businesses in Australia were additional ventures. The business, eventually known as Anthony Hordern & Sons, remained in family hands for a century, although not without legal tussles and court cases.
- A six-storey building, called The Palace Emporium, was opened in 1905. Located on the corner of George, Pitt and Goulburn Streets in the CBD (now occupied by World Square), it was once the largest department store in the world, covering 21 hectares in floor space.
- Downturns in trading saw Anthony Hordern & Sons taken over by Waltons in 1970.
- The Palace Emporium was used by the NSW Institute of Technology (now UTS) for some years but it was demolished in 1986 for the World Square development, which remained a hole in the ground for nearly twenty years (due to shutdown after union problems) before finally being completed in 2004. Saving the building was determined not to be feasible due to the state and condition. The owner, Singapore based Ipoh Garden Development, did however refurbish the Queen Victoria Building back to heritage standard.
- Anthony Hordern & Sons used a tree as a logo with the motto "While I live I'll grow". It appeared above all the store's window fittings and on all its stationery.
- Apparently there used to be a large Port Jackson fig tree on a ridge at Razorback (hi Steve and Diane) near Camden, that resembled the Hordern logo tree. AH arranged with the land owners at Razorback to erect a large, long sign alongside bearing the motto "While I live I'll grow".
- I have read that vandals poisoned the Razorback tree and that thereafter the Palace Emporium hit the hard times that eventually finished it off.
- The Razorback tree must have survived because there is a report that a 2014 gale destroyed the 109-year-old Port Jackson fig, splitting it in two and blowing it over.