Brisbane Arcade celebrated its 90th anniversary last year. We loved hearing of all the fond memories Brisbanites had of visits to the arcade and their favourite stores. If you have any old photos or stories you’d like to share, we always love hearing them. Email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brisbane Arcade – a snapshot history
1848 – Irish immigrant Patrick Mayne is at “The Bush Inn” with timber cutter Robert Cox. Cox is later discovered murdered and robbed.
1849 – Patrick Mayne sets up his family home and butcher shop in Queen Street where Brisbane Arcade is today.
1865 – Shortly before he dies Patrick Mayne allegedly confesses to the murder and robbery of Robert Cox. The Mayne family is shunned and none of Patrick’s six children ever marries or has children.
1923 – 1930s – Two of Patrick’s children, Dr James O’Neil Mayne and Miss Mary Emelia Mayne engage architect Richard Gailey Jnr to design Brisbane Arcade. One of the first shopping arcades in the city, it is a popular meeting place. The siblings establish the arcade in a Trust and proceeds benefit medical research, a tradition which continues today. Early tenants include S Knowles and Sons Jewellers, George E Adams Cake Shop, Searls Florists, Eastern Art Salons and Charles Sweida Hair and Beauty Salon.
1940s – 70s – Notable stores include the Johnstone Gallery, which opens in the former air raid shelter in the basement. Acclaimed designers and couturiers Gwen Gillam and Harvey Graham are here and Sweida’s wigs and Paul Wright’s Dance Studio are upstairs. The Vienna Coffee Inn and later Brisbane’s first bistro, Arcade Bistro, opens downstairs.
1980s – 90s – Sportsgirl, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Darrell Lea are arcade favourites. Designers Royce Facy, Tim Lindgren, Adam R Dixon, Irma J Smith, Debra Kolkka, Michael Klease, Tengdahl, Keri Craig and Anthony Leigh Dower are just some of the awarded designers that call the arcade home, many becoming familiar faces at the prestigious RAQ Fashion Awards. In 1992 Brisbane Arcade is heritage listed and later a major upgrade sees the building restored to its current historical charm.
2000 – today – Still home to long-term retailers that offer unique goods that you don’t find anywhere else. Many still design and make their goods here in Brisbane.
More on the Mayne Family
The history of the Mayne Family is so interesting, it is the subject of a book, The Mayne Inheritance, by Rosamond Siemon, published through the University of Queensland Press, in 1997. The Mayne siblings became great benefactors to the University of Queensland. He gave the university the land for their St Lucia campus. Brisbane Arcade was also established in a Trust and proceeds from the Trust still benefit the University of Queensland Medical School and medical research.
More on architecture
Brisbane Arcade was designed by Richard Gailey (Junior), who is regarded as one of Queensland’s most important earlier architects.
The building is located on a long narrow plot of land in the central city linking Queen Street to Adelaide Street. The design of the Arcade reflects the archetype of the traditional shopping arcade, which developed in Europe in the late 18th century.
The Arcade provides a pedestrian thoroughfare between two of the city’s busiest streets, with three levels of shops (basement, street, gallery levels) flanking a lofty central gallery under a solid roof with clerestory lighting.
Architectural details of interest include the Edwardian Baroque style street facades, original terrazzo stairs, balustrades and dado panelling. The Brisbane Arcade received Heritage Listing in 1992.
More on fashion
Writer, Caroline Gardam, has put together a fabulous account of Brisbane Arcade’s fashion history. Read it here - Brisbane Arcade fashion history