12th January 2023

Tailor’s Button

Beehive Clothing, Melbourne

A clothing  company was established by Lawrence Benjamin during the late 1850s, on the corner of Elizabeth and Bourke streets, opposite the General Post Office. (His brother, Samuel Benjamin, also had a store at this intersection.) In 1873 Lawrence erected a three storey building on the site, the Beehive Clothing Company building.

The Argus (Melbourne), 13th March 1873 page 4.

The building was taken over by F. S. Meyer in 1902 and re-christened the State Supply Stores, then merged with the London Tailoring Depot in 1906, although the beehive trademark remained on the building until the 1930s. However, the name “Beehive Clothing Company” seems to have been used until 1931.

Punch (Melbourne), 21st August 1902 page 26.

State Library Victoria photo 1716815. Ca. 1862-1879. Looking east along Bourke Street, with the Post Office on the left, and the Beehive Clothing Company building on the right hand corner of Elizabeth Street.

State Library Victoria photo H81.111. Ca.1888. View of Elizabeth Street, looking towards Collins Street showing the Beehive Clothing Company and the Beehive Chambers, corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets.

I was curious that the term ‘beehive’ had been used to name stores and buildings multiple time around Australia. Beehives are symbolic of attributes such as industry, diligence and wealth, amongst other things, so perhaps indicates the value of successful business through hard work, like that of the bees building the hive. Examples dating from 1840-1860  included (with the date first advertised):

  • Beehive stores, New Wharf, Hobart Town, 1841
  • Beehive Stores, Sydney, 1844
  • Bee-hive General Stores, Auburn St Goulburn, NSW 1845
  • Bee-hive stores, Mudgee, NSW 1847
  • Bee Hive Stores, Gawler Town, SA, 1848
  • Beehive Corner, King William & Rundle Sts, Adelaide, 1849
  • Beehive Grocery Store, 45 Elizabeth St Hobart Town, 1849
  • Beehive Store, Queen St, Nth Brisbane, 1849
  • French Bee-hive Stores, South Gundagai, NSW 1850
  • Bathurst Bee Hive General Store, NSW, 1850
  • Beehive Stores, Carcoar, NSW, 1853
  • Beehive Store, Great Brighton,Melbourne, 1854
  • Bee-hive Store, Tarrengower (Maldon), Vic, 1854
  • Beehive Store, Johnston St, Collingwood, Melbourne, 1854
  • Beehive Store, Blackwood St, North Melbourne, 1854
  • Bee-hive Store, Eastern Market, Melbourne, 1854
  • Beehive Store, Braidwood, NSW, 1854
  • Beehive Grocery Store, Charles St, Launceston, 1855
  • Beehive Store, Spring Creek, Victoria, 1855
  • Bee Hive Store, Morpeth, NSW, 1855
  • Beehive Stores, Pall Mall building, Bendigo, 1855
  • Beehive Store, Ballarat, 1855
  • Beehive Store, Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Melbourn, 1856
  • Bee-Hive Store, Bundendore, NSW, 1856
  • Beehive Store, Bathurst, NSW, 1856
  • Bee-hive Stores, Nine Mile, Vic, 1857

There would be plenty other examples, but I’ve had enough searching!

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