Destinations Magazine

ANZ Gothic Bank

By Melbournecurious

The ANZ Gothic Bank stands majestically onthe corner of Queen Street and Collins Street. It comprises two buildings:the former English, Scottish and Australian (ES&A) Bank on the corner andthe former Melbourne Stock Exchange, fronting Collins Street. In 1923 the two buildings were renovated and combined, becoming known simply as the 'Gothic Bank.' Both are superb examples of thegothic revival style, albeit in contrasting ways. The former ES&A Bankis an exercise in graceful restraint, whereas the former Stock Exchangereflects the exuberance of the 1880s’ banking boom. In recent times, they wererestored as part of the construction of the ANZ World Headquarters. 

ANZ Gothic Bank

Pic credit: Collector's Marvellous Melbourne

ANZ Gothic Bank

My own pic, 2011 

ES&A Bank Built in 1883-87, the former ES&A Bankwas designed by architect William Wardell in the gothic revival style. Thelancet windows, lofty ceilings and narrow spire emphasise the verticality ofthe building - a technique often used in the architecture of gothic cathedrals to give the impression of height. Today it may seem unusual to design a secular bank in a style suggestive of a religious building.However in the late nineteenth century, medieval architecture, and particularly the architecture of gothic cathedrals, was experiencing a widespread revival. For manyarchitects, the style's appeal had more to do with its beautiful aesthetics than any religious motive. And one can envisage how the romanticism of the gothic style would have been an attractive outlet in an era of industrialisation and increasing austerity in design. 

ANZ Gothic Bank

Wardell's design for the ES&A Bank, 1883 (David Syme & Co) Pic credit: State Library of Victoria

Today on the groundfloor, the majestic banking chamber is still resplendent with ironcolumns, gilded capitals and beautifully painted ceilings. I wasn’tallowed to take photos inside but the ground floor is accessible to the publicas it is a fully-functioning branch of the ANZ bank. If you are in the area, it is definitely worth having a look around this magical room. Meanwhile, the top two floors of the building are permanently closed off. These levels were originally the residence of the bank's general manager, SirGeorge Verdon. In addition to holding this highly respected position, Verdon was alsoan enlightened patron, responsible for commissioning the design of the ES&A Gothic Bank. It is a shame the former residence is not open to the public as a museumas it is virtually intact and the last remaining one of its kind in the city. It would provide far better insights into the history of the bank than the current tacky and tired-looking 'ANZ Banking Museum' in the basement (hardly worth a look). 

ANZ Gothic Bank

Photograph of Sir George Verdon, ca. 1860 - 1896. Pic credit: National Library of Australia

Former Melbourne Stock Exchange

The former StockExchange was built just after the ES&A Bank in 1888-91. It wasdesigned by famed architect, William Pitt, in the 'free gothic' style.Elaborately ornamented, each level of the facade differs from the others.Gargoyles and stained glass windows abound. A beautiful rose window sitsregally at the very top of the facade. Its flamboyant design reflects the exuberance of the 1880s’ banking boom.  However, its construction was hit hardby the depression of the 1890s, resulting in it being built beyond its means. It was sold to the neighbouring ES&A Bank in 1921 due to financial pressure. Two years later the twobuildings were renovated and combined into the one ‘Gothic Bank.’  

ANZ Gothic Bank

Former Melbourne Stock Exchange, 2011. Pic credit: my own

The CathedralRoom (below) is one of my very favourite spaces in Melbourne. Originally themain trading room of the Stock Exchange, it was once the most importantbusiness centre in Australia.  With six columns of Harcourt granite from Bendigo, carved capitals in white freestone and beautiful stained glass windows, itis clear to see how the room attracted its ecclesiastical name.   

ANZ Gothic Bank

Cathedral Room of the Former Melbourne Stock Exchange, 2011 (pic credit: my own)

ANZ Gothic Bank
ANZ Gothic Bank
ANZ World Headquarters & Restoration of the Gothic Bank

In 1990, the Gothic Bank was extensively restored by Lovell Chen Architects and Heritage Consultants and now forms part of the ANZ World Headquarters. Permission to build the ANZ skyscraper behind the Gothic Bank was granted on the condition that the heritage buildings be restored. The ANZ skyscraper is linked to the Gothic Bank via a series of glass atriums and colourful, internal chambers. ANZ enjoys the entire complex, including the heritage buildings, as a very unique premises for its world headquarters.  

ANZ Gothic Bank
ANZ Gothic Bank

The ANZ Skyscraper was designed by Peddle Thorp Architects to reflect the Gothic themes of the heritage buildings below. The curtain-walling and zig zag tracery give the impression of gothic-like arched structural supports. I like the fact that the skyscraper does not overwhelm the smaller heritage buildings. This is the intended result of the skyscraper being set back on a podium, so as to be sympathetic to the scale of the surrounding heritage buildings. The ANZ Gothic Bank - what a great example of the new complimenting the old in Melbourne. 

ANZ Gothic Bank

ANZ World Headquarters, 2011. Pic credit: Peddle Thorp Architects

ANZ, The Gothic Bank: ANZ's Commitment to Preservation (pamphlet) [199-?] 
Cash, Damien M, The Gothic Bank of Collins Street (1989)
e-Melbourne website: 
Lovell Chen Architects & Heritage Consultants website: 
Peddle Thorp Architects website:
Storey, Rohan, Buildings in Queen and Collins Street, Melbourne and the Hotel Australia site, from Yule House, 309-311 Little Collins Street, Melbourne (1990)
Victoria Heritage database:;733 
Victoria Heritage database:;791Walking Melbourne website: 

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog