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T&G through history

31 October 2016

Melbourne’s T&G Building, located at 161 Collins Street, is one of the city’s most iconic structures, but where does the name come from and why is it so enduring?

The T&G Mutual Life Assurance Society was founded in Victoria in 1876, providing financial advice and services and wealth management products to Australians.

During the gold rush of the 1880s, T&G built prominent headquarters in both Melbourne and Sydney, but it was during the interwar period of the 20th century that their reach and visibility began to grow, as they embarked upon a building program that was the most extensive of any insurance company in Australasia.

Following construction of the company’s existing T&G Building in Melbourne in 1928, at 161 Collins Street, the T&G brand became synonymous with architectural prowess, as they were responsible for some of Australia and New Zealand’s finest buildings.


Each building usually incorporated a landmark tower displaying the company’s name, further reinforcing their iconic status.

Most, including the T&G Building at 161 Collins Street, were designed by the Melbourne firm A & K Henderson, and feature the same stripped, classical style. This distinctive form first launched in the Collins Street building due to the Melbourne’s strict height restrictions of the time, which limited the number of levels a building could have. This style evolved into an Art Deco aesthetic in the 1930s.


Many of the original T&G Buildings, designed by A & K Henderson and built in the interwar period, are still in existence today.

They include: Melbourne, corner of Collins and Russell Street (1928); Adelaide, King William Street (1925); Hobart, Collins Street (1938); Geelong, corner of Ryrie and Moorabool Street (1934); Palmerston North, 16-22 Broadway, (1938); and Wellington, corner of Lambton Quay and Grey Street (1928), now known as the Harcourt’s Building

T&G amalgamated with National Mutual Life Association in 1983, and was demutualised in 1996, before being purchased by AXA with 51% of the shares, and renaming the company AXA Asia Pacific in 1999. The new company remained on Collins Street until 2009.

Header Image
Interior views of the Temperance and General Building, Melbourne, Victoria
Date(s): circa. 1940-1949
Creator: Commercial Photographic Co., Photographers
Courtesy of State Library Victoria,

Body Image 1
The Temperance and General Building, Melbourne, Victoria, built 1928
Date(s): circa. 1940-1949
Creator: Commercial Photographic Co., Photographers
Courtesy of State Library Victoria,

Body Image 2
The Temperance and General Building, Geelong, Victoria, built 1934
By I, Wongm, CC BY-SA 3.0,