Historical information

The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) plans were produced from the 1890s to the 1950s. They were crucial to the design and development of Melbourne's sewerage and drainage system. The plans, at a scale of 40 feet to 1 inch (1:480), provide a detailed historical record of Melbourne streetscapes and environmental features. Each plan covers one or two street blocks (roughly six streets), showing details of buildings, including garden layouts and ownership boundaries, and features such as laneways, drains, bridges, parks, municipal boundaries and other prominent landmarks as they existed at the time each plan was produced. (Source: State Library of Victoria)


This plan forms part of a large group of MMBW plans and maps that was donated to the Society by the Mr Poulter, City Engineer of the City of Kew in 1989. Within this collection, thirty-five hand-coloured plans, backed with linen, are of statewide significance as they include annotations that provide details of construction materials used in buildings in the first decade of the 20th century as well as additional information about land ownership and usage. The copies in the Public Record Office Victoria and the State Library of Victoria are monochrome versions which do not denote building materials so that the maps in this collection are invaluable and unique tools for researchers and heritage consultants. A number of the plans are not held in the collection of the State Library of Victoria so they have the additional attribute of rarity.

Physical description

Original survey plan, issued by the MMBW to a contractor with responsibility for constructing sewers in the area identified on the plan within the Borough of Kew. The plan was at some stage hand-coloured, possibly by the contractor, but more likely by officers working in the Engineering Department of the Borough and later Town, then City of Kew. The hand-coloured sections of buildings on the plan were used to denote masonry or brick constructions (pink), weatherboard constructions (yellow), and public buildings (grey).

This plan covers parts of Sackville Street, John Street, Thomas Street and Cotham Road, and includes several very large houses in Sackville Street. Job Smith built ‘Berrington’ in about 1888-90 for himself, and ‘Pomeroy’ (now ‘Merridale’) in 1885 for James Mickleburgh. ‘Heathfield’ was built in 1888 for Henry Eeles, and was one of many fine homes in Kew, Hawthorn and surrounding suburbs designed by prolific architect John Beswicke; it later became “La Verna” and was a Franciscan monastery. Similarly, in Cotham Road, we can see ‘Bella Vista’ (now demolished), and ‘Charleville’, with its double-storeyed arcade frontage, built in 1889 for Charles Donaldson whose family occupied it until 1939. This was renamed ‘Ross House’ by the second owner, Dr. Thomas King, and then substantially restored in the 1960s by the Stillwell family, well known as car drivers and dealers. Bella Vista (later ‘Malinda’) was originally designed by the architect Robert Haddon and built for Abel Hoadley, inventor of the Violet Crumble Bar and many other delicious delicacies. He began by manufacturing jams and pickles in South Melbourne using fruit from his own orchard in East Burwood.