Balfour's Shop and Cafe

Balfour's Shop and Cafe

Balfour’s Cafe was built in 1924 as the new city premises of the baking company Balfour Wauchope Limited. It was designed by the prominent Adelaide architects Woods, Bagot and Laybourne Smith and is considered innovative because of the building envelope, which is independent of the internal structure. It has a large steel and glass curtain wall to the Rundle Mall frontage surrounded by abstracted classical details, in particular the monumental pilasters that frame the studio-like south light. The facade is largely original.

James Calder, a Scottish baker emigrated to South Australia in December 1852 and by 1855 had set up a bakery and confectionery business at 130 Rundle Street. By the mid-1860s he was successful enough to build the City Steam Biscuit Factory in Twin Street (demolished in 2013) as well as open another shop at what was then 43 Rundle Street. His nephew, John Balfour, had joined the business and in 1877 and the company name was changed from James Calder to Calder and Balfour.

In time the company became a household name throughout South Australia. The firm outgrew its Twin Street factory and moved to a larger newly built factory in Cardwell Street in the early 1890s. In the early 1900s, Balfour’s amalgamated with one of its competitors, Bricknall and Company Limited.

The company’s expansion in the 1890s coincided with an economic recession and some hard times followed. However, Elizabeth Balfour, James’ wife, salvaged the finances by opening a restaurant at 136 Rundle Street. Later, in 1900-1, her son JG and son- in-law Charles Wauchope became partners and the company name was changed to E. Balfour and Company. At this time its retail premises were moved to 74 Rundle Street (now known as 72). Several partnership changes occurred soon after or at the turn of the century and by 1924 the company was known as Balfour Wauchope Ltd.

By the 1920s, and until well into the 1950s, Balfour’s bakeries and its cakes were a South Australian institution. The Balfour’s Cafe in Rundle Street was described in 1929 as one of “the” lunch spots in Adelaide. According to historian Rob Linn, Balfour’s Cafes “breathed a gracious but relaxed atmosphere which suited the nature of Adelaide society at that time”, and until well after World War II. The Rundle Street shop was sold by Balfour’s in 1989, and the cafe function closed prior to that. The building is now used to operate a retail business.

The company continues to be one of the state’s largest and best-known bakery brands. It was purchased in 2008 by South Australian-based national company San Remo Macaroni Company. The Balfours bakery is now located in Dudley Park.


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The shop in Rundle Mall is significant as a largely unchanged building, however 'Balfours' in itself is more significant as a much loved South Australian brand.

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Images of Balfour's Shop and Cafe

  • Balfour's Shop, 2014
Edward Woods, Walter Bagot, Louis Laybourne Smith
Building materials
Brick, Render
Architectural styles
3.12 Inter-War Period (c. 1915–c. 1940)
1924 -
Architecture and design features
steel, glass
Engineering features
Rundle Mall
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Balfour Wauchope Limited
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Commercial, Shop
AS2482 classification
11500 - Business: Commercial/Retail
Public Access
Exterior only
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5976/785 F42223 A10
NTSA file exists
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
3.5 Commercial, Marketing & Retail
3.5.2 Retail and Wholesale Industry
Australian Curriculum references
Year 6: Australia as a Nation


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