The land on which the arcade was built was prime land when Melbourne was first settled. It was the first land purchase, for 20 pounds in 1837 by Mr Joseph Moore. In 1855 in changed hands again, for 650 pounds to Mr Simon Staughton.

In 1868, a competition was held for the design of the arcade and was won by Mr Charles Webb; Charles Webb was an 19th Century
architect from Suffolk England whose works, along with the royal arcade share such marvels as: Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, Tasma Terrace, South Melbourne Town Hall, The Windsor Hotel, Church of Christ (Swanston St) and the Banks and Co. Warehouse

Construction on the arcade began in June of 1869 and was completed by May, 1870 and was officially opened by Lord Mayor Charles Amess.

One of the most drawing features of the arcade is Gaunt’s Clock which is flanked by two giant statues of the mythical figures of Gog and Magog. Since its implementation in 1892, the two mammoth statues have struck chimes at every hour, and can be heard resounding throughout the arcade.

In 1902, a decision was made to link the arcade to Elizabeth street, so an annex was added, allowing for the opening of further businesses and a throughway to Elizabeth street from the arcade.

The arcade remained in the familys of Spenseley and Staughton until 1955; where the arcade was auctioned and sold to its tenants who formed a company and purchased the arcade for 541,000 dollars.

Between the years 2002-2004, the aged Royal Arcade was refurbished and restored to its past glory. There was extensive skylight work allowing the inflow of natural light and storefronts were made more consistent.

After so many years the Royal Arcade still remains, largely unchanged and beautiful in its Renaissance Revival style. Much can be said in words, but you wont know until you experience it for yourself! The Royal Arcade is a significant Victorian era building and is a part of the Victorian Heritage Register.


royal arcade, melbourne, victorian era, gog and magog

As the scene settles in the viewfinder, time stands still and captures the wonder of the moment.

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