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Federation Arches
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Old Treasury Building
Old Treasury Building,
Spring Street
Melbourne, VIC

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Federation Arches

Officially the Commonwealth of Australia came into being on January 1st, 1901 with celebrations in Sydney. Melbourne decided to hold off celebrations until May when the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York would come to visit to open the first parliament. To celebrate, Melbourne erected eight arches, while two arches were built in St Kilda and four in Ballarat. Small towns also joined in.

The carriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York travelled the streets of Melbourne passing under the King's arch the Queen Victoria arch then under the Citizen's arch, and the Duke of York's arch then under the Butter arch and German arch and finally under the Municipal arch.

The Butter Arch (Collins Street)

The Butter arch looks like a medieval battlement with two turrets and flags flying on each. Poised above the centre is a shield for each of the six states. It was composed of butter boxes which looked like bricks. The number of boxes used in the construction represented the amount of butter exported daily from Victoria at the time. This was the only arch erected in Melbourne for a particular industry.

The Municipal / Corporation / City of Melbourne Arch (Princes Bridge)

This grand arch was modelled off the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The arch was designed by noted architect Harold Desbrowe-Annear, and was the first, and grandest of the arches. One side of the arch reads (in Latin) ‘The city hails her monarch’s son’ and the other, ‘The wattle greets the rose of York’. In the centre a replica of the ship ‘Austral’ (the Ship-of-State) comes out of the arch with the Australian states written on the oars. Above this were three masts, giving the illusion of the ship actually sailing. A crown sits on the very top. The inside of the arch was painted deep crimson with electrical bulbs which when lit appeared to be stars.

The Chinese Arch (Swanston Street near Little Bourke Street)

This arch looked like a Chinese temple and was covered in the finest silks. Musicians sat at the apex and played Chinese music during the procession. It was designed by Public Works architect Mr G.H.B Austin and paid for by the Victorian Chinese community.

The Duke’s Arch (Bourke Street)

This naval themed arch featured photographs of the Duke (left) and Duchess (right) or Cornwall, the centre held a model warship titles ‘Melampus’ which moved as if tossed by waves. It was covered in velveteen of blue and red with orange lining and gold gilding. The arch was lit by over 400 electric lights at night. When the royal carriage approached, there were tiny guns which were rigged to fire and a welcome flag would be raised.

The German Arch (Collins Street)

Two columns hold a flag suspended over the main tramway. Two smaller arches on either side provide room for pedestrians. The flag represents the ‘Genius of Australia’, above that a motto is painted in German which translated reads: ‘One people we, united and fraternal’.

The King’s Arch / Edward VII Arch (Swanston Street, just north of Flinders Lane)

This arch was themed for the Royal Robes and was covered in cardinal and deep crimson velveteen with gold silk cords. It was topped with gilded masts and silk flags. Searchlights from neighbouring buildings lit the arch at night. Designed by Mr. George H B Austin of the Public Works Department.

The Queen’s Arch (Corner of Russell and Collins streets)

This arch used the four corners of the street to great effect. Each corner held the side of an arch, all meeting in the middle; it was the only arch to do so. The centre of this intersection held a gilded statue of the late Queen (sculpted by C Douglas Anderson), beneath this was suspended a bouquet of flowers. The arch was coloured violet, white, silver and gold and was illuminated by 1000 lights at night.

The Citizen’s Arch (Bourke Street, just east of Russell Street)

Measuring 18 by 11 metres this arch featured a portrait of King Edward VII, above that sat the original Melbourne coat of arms. This coat of arms is divided into quarters by the Saint George cross, the quarters containing a sheep, a bull, a whale and a ship, representing Victorian industry and trade. (This coat of arms can still be seen around the city, notably on Princes Bridge). On the columns of the arch were portraits of the Duke (left) and Duchess (right) both adorned with the Union Jack, below these portraits were the badges of the six states and below them were copies of the Kings shield with the initials ‘ERI’ (abbreviated Latin meaning ‘Edward King and Emperor). The six badges were: Victoria- a blue ensign with the southern cross surmounted by a crown, Queensland- a blue Maltese cross with the imperial crown in the centre, Western Australia- a black swan with a yellow circle, New South Wales- a golden lion on a red Saint George’s cross within a white circle, South Australia- a piping shrike in a yellow circle, Tasmania- a red lion in a white circle.

Did you know?
The Municipal arch was intended to stand for 12 months as a reminder of the celebrations, however one month after the visit a strong wind blew some of the columns down blocking the road and so it was dismantled.
See trails with this object:
These arches were erected for the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York in May, 1901.
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Where is it located?
Victorian Parliamentary History
Where it was made?
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