Ever heard of the Barcade boys?

Block Arcade

Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of coloured glass, stone, or other materials. Small pieces, normally roughly quadratic, of stone or glass of different colors, known as tesserae, (diminutive tessellae), are used to create a pattern or picture.

Here we have a great example of Victorian-era floor mosaic. This photo shows the example of the intricate flooring of the L-shaped arcade which opens opposite the Royal Arcade in Melbourne.

In its heyday, it was well known as a hangout for young larrikin gangs called the “barcade boys,” who dealt drugs all day and hired prostitutes at night. The arcade was erected between 1891-93 and designed by architect David C. Askew whose brief was to produce something similar to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. The result was one of Melbourne’s most richly decorated interior spaces, replete with mosaic tiled flooring, glass canopy, wrought iron and carved stone finishings. The exterior facade is one of Australia’s best surviving examples of the Victorian Mannerist style.

If you want to know more about tiles and mosaics, check out my ceramics category.

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2 Responses to Ever heard of the Barcade boys?

  1. Hello Maryann

    Do you have any more information about the Barcade Boys. I’m Looking for a good reference about them.

    Any assistance greatly appreciated.


    • maryannadair says:

      Hi Jonathan
      Have a look in TROVE which is operated by the National Library of Australia. You can do article searches of some magazines and a lot of the early newspapers which were digitised. I did a ‘quick and dirty’ search on Barcade Boys which didn’t really produce anything, however if you search under ‘Block Arcade’ there is at least one reference to a case where ‘a lout’ or gang member said something offensive to a (I think) young French lady, which ended up in the Courts and the Press over a period of years ca 1903-1906. Hope this helps. Also State Library of Victoria might have some information, I didn’t look at their site. Good luck!

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