Historical information

Prue Sanderson, in her groundbreaking ‘City of Kew Urban Conservation Study : Volume 2 - Development History’ (1988), summarised the periods of urban development and subdivisions of land in Kew. The periods that she identified included 1845-1880, 1880-1893, 1893-1921, 1921-1933, 1933-1943, and Post-War Development. These periods were selected as they represented periods of rapid growth or decline in urban development. An obvious starting point for Sanderson’s groupings involved population growth and the associated economic cycles. These cycles also highlighted urban expansion onto land that was predominantly rural, although in other cases it represented the decline and breakup of large estates. A number of the plans in the Kew Historical Society’s collection can also be found in other collections, such as those of the State Library of Victoria and the Boroondara Library Service. A number are however unique to the collection.


The Kew Historical Society collection includes almost 100 subdivision plans pertaining to suburbs of the City of Melbourne. Most of these are of Kew, Kew East or Studley Park, although a smaller number are plans of Camberwell, Deepdene, Balwyn and Hawthorn. It is believed that the majority of the plans were gifted to the Society by persons connected with the real estate firm - J. R. Mathers and McMillan, 136 Cotham Road, Kew. The Plans in the collection are rarely in pristine form, being working plans on which the agent would write notes and record lots sold and the prices of these. The subdivision plans are historically significant examples of the growth of urban Melbourne from the beginning of the 20th Century up until the 1980s. A number of the plans are double-sided and often include a photograph on the reverse. A number of the latter are by noted photographers such as J.E. Barnes.

Physical description

Coloured lithograph of a subdivision plan of the Studley Park Estate, bordered by Yarra, Willsmere Road and the Outer Circle Railway line. The estate was listed in 1910 and was the subject of a planning dispute between the developer and the Town of Kew in relation to flood levels and the suitability of the land for housing. In many cases the names of streets were subsequently changed. The layout was also affected by the creation of the Eastern Freeway. A newspaper report of the day described the subdivision as a: "GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY. We are pleased to submit for PRIVATE SALE that magnificent ESTATE, situated only 4 1/2 miles from the Melbourne General Post Office, STUDLEY PARK ESTATE. KF/NV. Doubtless the CHEAPEST LAND EVER OFFERED having extensive frontages to the prettiest spot on the River Yarra and the National Park, commanding lovely river and landscape views, and acknowledged to be the finest land available so close to the city. The PRICES ARE EXTREMELY MODERATE; The TERMS ARE SIMPLY MARVELLOUS. NO DEPOSIT. NO DEPOSIT. NO DEPOSIT. Allotments and prices to suit everyone."