18th December 2023

Department of Commerce of USA, Special Consular report


In 1916 this report was released for the benefit of American manufacturers, giving them information about potential markets around the world. It included a list of Australian dealers and importers, “dry goods” stores and clothing factories. One of these was Bussell Robson P/L, of 246 Bourke Street Melbourne.

Bussell Robson P/L

The Argus (Melbourne), 26th February 1885, page 10

This drapery firm started in 1877, and they soon developed their business so much that they had to expand into adjoining premises. Edward Bussell joined the firm as their London partner in 1878 and in 1885 they became Bussell, Robson & Bussell. Unfortunately Edward died soon after he returned from his only visit to Melbourne in 1885, and Thomas Bussell had to leave and take his place in London. Under William Robson’s guidance, the store traded so well that further expansion was necessary.

Leader (Melbourne), 15th June 1895, page 4.

Punch (Melbourne), 28th March 1907, page 12. Their new warehouse.

In 1928 Foy & Gibson acquired the property and other at the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets. Bussell’s final trading day was on 31st December 1926. The building itself was demolished in 1936 to make way for Foy & Gibson’s new store.

The Talk of Melbourne, 16th March 1911 page 15.  The Harem Skirt: this was “the fashion sensation of the moment”, according to the report, requiring the services of policemen to manage the crowds that kept blocking traffic.

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