Our Story

Some traditions never get old.

As one of Sydney’s oldest and most historic business clubs, we’re proudly built on tradition.

Since our inception in 1851, and opening by the Governor General, Sir William Denison, on the 30th October 1857, we’ve been a meeting point for some of Australia’s most well-known and successful business figures.

The founder of one of Australia’s most iconic department stores, David Jones, was a member. So was newspaper proprietor John Fairfax, who made the Sydney Morning Herald the major publication it is today. Our story is part of Australia’s history.

The place to be

A four-storey high sandstone building designed in the Corinthian manner, The Exchange, as it was known then, was a symbol of Sydney’s prosperity. It was the gold rush era and The Exchange quickly became the place for business.

It was a groundbreaking building. The first telegraphic message in New South Wales was sent from the Exchange. Then, the first telephone system in New South Wales was here. As was the first public demonstration of electric lighting on the 6th December 1882, when the dining room was lit up by electric light.

The Sydney Wool Exchange, The Fire Underwriters Association, The Coal Association and The Royal Humane Society of New South Wales can all trace their beginnings to the grand old building at 56 Pitt Street. The Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1824, also took up residence in the Exchange Building.

The captains of the great Clipper ships like the Cutty Shark, Thermopylae, La Hogue and Brilliant traded on the floorboards of The Exchange, where it was affectionately known as the ‘‘Albatross Club’’.

In 1871, the share-brokers moved in and the Sydney Stock Exchange was born, only moving in 1896 to Martin Place because it had grown so big.

And of course, there was what we’re known for – the wool auctions. For 100 years, from 1864 to 1964, auction sales of wool were held at The Exchange, growing to be the world’s biggest wool selling centre.

During that time, in 1901, His Majesty King Edward VII bestowed on The Exchange the new title, The Royal Exchange of Sydney, cementing its place in history.

A new era,
a new building

Sadly, a change of ownership in the 60s saw the historic sandstone building demolished. But The Exchange lives on in a new building at the same location, still watched over by the Statue of Commerce, a remnant of the original building designed by Statue of Liberty creator James White.

The Royal Exchange continues to be a place to start the day, to end the day, and even just pass the time during the day. It’s where people come to connect, engage and exchange ideas.

It’s also home to an ever-growing list of members, dedicated to adding value to one another and their businesses. Because good things happen when people come together.