The Queen Victoria Building in Sydney – magnificent survivor

The Queen Victoria Building (QVB) in Sydney was officially opened in July 1898. In 1986 after a history of on-again/off-again plans for demolition or restoration, the building was opened with a new lease on life as one of the city’s premier retail buildings.

In 1927, J J C Bradfield’s plans for the Sydney Harbour Bridge and its approaches apparently required the widening of York Street. (Note: a post on the Sydney Harbour Bridge will follow in coming weeks).

In 1972, demolition man Keith Whatman would have been happy for the Queen Victoria Building to have been brought down by his wrecking ball. Around the same time the Sydney City Council had decided she was worth saving and restoring to her former glory.

The Queen Victoria building for one – it’s a monstrosity – to make room for a civic square. That’s a project I’m really keen on. But not St. Andrew’s Cathedral and the Town Hall. I’d fight to the death anyone who suggested it,” he said. Keith Whatman – Australian Women’s Weekly 29 November 1972

Here’s what the QVB looks like now. A timeline of its history can be found on the same QVB site. Over here at, you’ll find some historic and contemporary photos of a building that hung on to be the national treasure that it is.

The QVB is now listed under the NSW Heritage Act. The Heritage Branch of the NSW Department of Planning has a comprehensive description of the building and its history here.