Historical information

Pru 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

The little-known Glenarbor Estate comprised 23 allotments bordering Wellington and Denmark Streets and Fenton Avenue. The auction of the allotments in the Estate was held in the Kew Recreation Hall. The purported advantages to Kew are identified on the plan, such as the close proximity of the entrance to the Kew Railway Station and access to shops in Denmark Street. Due to its location, the subdivision was pitched at commercial as well as residential purchasers. The Estate was to cause a crisis in the Kew Council as a majority of councillors voted on 29 May to acquire the entire Estate as the location of a new Town Hall. The Estate was said to be valued at £50,000. A later meeting was to rescind the vote, instead opting for the compulsory acquisition of South Esk on the corner of Charles Street and Cotham Road. That acquisition was to be overturned by the State Government. The debate about the purchase of the Glenarbor Estate by Council coincided with the decision to widen High Street on the South side between Cotham Road and the Junction.

Inscriptions & markings