From Underwear to Hardware: Hordern Bros. in the Hawkesbury 1962-1999

2013 - 2015

Hunter and Ross Hordern were fifth generation descendants of Anthony Hordern, a famous name in the history of Australian retail. In 1962 the brothers came to Windsor, and bought the Pulsford family business, re-naming it H & R Hordern – Value Department Store. Asked in later years why they chose Windsor, they said ‘because we like the area, it’s slowly expanding, and dramatic things don’t happen there.’ (Hunter Hordern, June 1983).

The business thrived and new opportunities presented themselves, such as the water skiing crowd, for which power boating accessories and even boats were brought in. Older customers remained loyal, perhaps because they could still buy items that were fast going out of fashion, such as ‘foundation garments’.

There were attractive window displays and fashion parades, and participation in community events and promotions.  Buses were stocked up to deliver goods to outlying areas such as Wisemans Ferry.

By 1979 the fashion business had undergone something of a revolution, and a large men’s clothing department took shape next to the original building. Hordern Brothers now comprised three adjoining shops, a staff of nearly 20, and a retailing space of 1,300 square metres.

After almost 36 years, the Windsor business and a family retailing tradition of more than 173 years ended in 1998, when Ross and Hunter had reached their 70s and were looking forward to retirement. The business and buildings were sold in three separate lots: firstly the hardware section in 1996, then ladies wear in 1998, and finally menswear on Friday 9 April 1999. It was around this time that a large number of fixtures and fittings were donated to Hawkesbury Historical Society. These items formed the basis of the Museum’s 2013 exhibition.

Click on the PDF link below for more information on the exhibition.

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