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 shows several very large houses, particularly along Glenferrie Road, and the area now occupied by Ruyton Girls’ School. ‘Tarring’ (incorrectly spelled here as ‘Karring’) was built for Henry Henty in 1872, on part of his original allotment of 20 acres, and ‘Mount View’, which retains its original building and the fountain in the front garden, is part of Ruyton’s Junior School. The most significant change to Tarring and its grounds since 1903, involve the removal of a number of the outbuildings, including a Burmese temple, bought by Henty from the Burmese Exhibit at the Great Exhibition of 1880. It is shown on the plan as a summerhouse. The two-storey mansion, on the corner of Glenferrie Road and Wellington Street, was built in 1891 by leading architect Alfred White as his own home. Having an initial N.A.V. of £160, the house was purchased by a warehouseman Henry Lister, by 1900, when the N.A.V. was recorded at £111. By the turn of the century the house was known as ‘Comaques’. By contrast, much smaller houses are shown in Scott and Byron Streets, including a tiny Mission Hall in Byron Street, which belonged to the Anglican Church from at least 1903 to 1917.